Who do Conservative members want in the next leader’s cabinet?

Jemma ConnerResearch Manager
Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
July 29, 2022, 8:46 AM GMT+0

Members backing Sunak and Truss are divided over whether to include Boris Johnson in the next cabinet

While the contest to decide the next prime minister heats up, questions remain over the future role, if any, of Boris Johnson. Some party members have called for him to remain in post, while elsewhere a role in NATO is seemingly on the cards, and some say he should be appointed to the next cabinet.

No matter who the next tenant of Number 10 is, the first job will be building a new team of cabinet members – but who do Conservatives want to see at the top table?

Kemi Badenoch, who made it to the final four of the leadership race, is the most popular choice for a cabinet position, with 84% of Conservative members wanting a role for her. A mere 8% think she should not be appointed to a ministerial role. Badenoch is also the most popular choice for a cabinet role among both supporters of Rishi Sunak (81%) and Liz Truss (88%).

In second place is current defence secretary Ben Wallace, with a similar proportion (84%) wanting him in cabinet. He is likewise popular with both camps in the leadership debate (81% of Sunak supporters and 82% of Truss supporters).

Two-thirds of Conservative members want to see former leadership hopeful and current attorney general Suella Braverman given a role in the forthcoming cabinet – including 75% of those supporting Truss for party leader but far fewer Sunak supporters (53%).

Other previous leadership contenders Tom Tugendhat and Penny Mordaunt are also popular choices for cabinet roles (both 63%).

A similar proportion of members want to see Jacob Rees-Mogg continue as a cabinet minister (62%). However, the minister of Brexit opportunities and government efficiency divides the two competing leadership factions. While 80% of those backing Truss for party leader say they want him in cabinet, only 36% of Sunak supporters say the same – a 44-point difference.

Six in ten party members say the current deputy prime minister Dominic Raab (61%), and the home secretary Priti Patel (60%) should be included in the new cabinet. While Sunak and Truss's supporters feel similarly about Raab, they disagree over Patel’s future. Seven in ten Truss backers (71%) want her in the future cabinet, versus fewer than half of Sunak’s backers (46%).

Around half of party members think that the current, as well as the former chancellor of the exchequer Nadhim Zahawi (55%) and Sajid Javid (53%), should be given cabinet positions. Javid is another figure who splits the membership, although in this case he proves more popular among backers of Sunak, with 75% of this group wanting him in the cabinet, versus 38% of Truss supporters.

Nadine Doris divides the entire membership, with the 42% wanting to see her included in the next cabinet counterbalanced by the 42% who do not. Truss supporters are twice as likely as those backing Sunak to say Dorries should be in the next cabinet (57% versus 24%).

When it comes to Boris Johnson, only 40% of members overall want to see him in the next prime minister's cabinet team, while 50% do not. Liz Truss has said she thinks it was wrong to oust Johnson from Number 10, but despite this she has also suggested he would not have a role in her cabinet. However, half (55%) of party members supporting her run for leader say he should be in the next cabinet. Only 18% of those backing Sunak say the same.

Finally, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt proves to be the least popular choice for a cabinet position, as only 31% of Conservatives say he should be in the next cabinet. However, this does rise to half (53%) among Sunak’s support base, while only 18% of Truss’s supporters agree.

See full results here

Header image: Getty Images