Kemi Badenoch seen to have 'X factor' as plotters see her as frontrunner that could replace Sunak

Kemi Badenoch seen to have 'X factor' as plotters see her as frontrunner that could replace Sunak

WATCH NOW: Kemi Badenoch stands by Rishi Sunak amid calls to replace him

Jack Walters

By Jack Walters

Published: 01/02/2024

- 13:10

Updated: 01/02/2024

- 14:33

The Brexit-backing Business Secretary was forced to confirm her support for Rishi Sunak over the weekend

Kemi Badenoch has been earmarked by Tory plotters as the frontrunner to replace Rishi Sunak as Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister.

The Business Secretary is considered the only potential candidate who stands a change of uniting the Tory Party while advocating a policy platform closer to right-wing rebels.

Ex-Home Secretary Suella Braverman, once tipped as the natural successor to Sunak, is seen as too divisive.

A Tory MP urged Braverman not to run in a potential leadership race.

Kemi Badenoch is tipped as the frontrunner to replace Rishi Sunak

Kemi Badenoch is tipped as the frontrunner to replace Rishi Sunak


However, the MP claimed: “Kemi has the X factor, she has the capacity to cut through and communicate.

“She can carry off the policy platform that’s being drawn up.”

Badenoch is not well-liked by the influential Brexit-backing European Research Group.

The Saffron Walden MP riled up ERG members after she was accused of watering down plans to repeal Brussels-derived legislation.

However, the MP suggested the ERG’s dislike for the Business Secretary could prove beneficial, adding: “The ERG hate her, which means she’s inoculated by the left. She can bring people together.”

Rishi Sunak is under pressure to turn around the Tory Party's fortunes

Rishi Sunak is under pressure to turn around the Tory Party's fortunes


Badenoch has rejected any claims she is plotting to replace Sunak and continues to demonstrate her loyalty to the Prime Minister.

She said: "This is a nonsense story and this is the media trying to fuel lots of gossip about Westminster.

"We have serious issues that we need to deal with.

"Just now you ask me about an MP who is standing down because of death threats.

"We are facing some very serious challenges as a country in terms of our global security and the fact that you are asking me about WhatsApp groups is a sign that the media are not serious about focusing on the issues that are at hand.

"For the record, not I am not [a member of the WhatsApp group] and I would like you people to stop asking me."

Speaking to GB News' Camilla Tominey on Sunday, Badenoch added: “I do support the Prime Minister.

Suella Braverman

Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman looks set to court support from the European Research Group


“If people want to know whether or not I supported Rishi they should look at my actions.

“When Liz Truss resigned from the premiership, the first thing I did was come out and say Rishi should be the Prime Minister and I gave the reasons.

“I have backed him consistently every time because I know how difficult his job is.

“I see him working so hard. No one works harder than that man.”

Badenoch was also forced to address her own inclusion in a Tory WhatsApp group called “The Plotters”.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove, who knifed Boris Johnson in the back in the 2016 Tory Party leadership race, was also in the chat.

However, it is understood that the name of the group chat was ironic given the book written by Johnson loyalist Nadine Dorries.

The former Culture Secretary, who released The Plot last year, accused Gove of attempting to install Badenoch as leader.

Penny Mordaunt

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt ran in the first leadership contest of 2022


Badenoch contested the first Conservative leadership race of 2022 after Johnson resigned following a Cabinet cabal.

She was eliminated in the fourth ballot, receiving the support of 59 fellow Tory MPs.

The Business Secretary outperformed Braverman who dropped out in the second ballot with just 27 supporters.

However, Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt could pose a problem if Badenoch threw her hat into the ring for a second time.

The Portsmouth North MP pushed Liz Truss close to reaching the membership ballot after receiving 105 MPs' votes, just eight short of the former Foreign Secretary’s tally.

Kemi BadenochKemi Badenoch is a member of a Conservative WhatsApp group called "Evil Plotters"PA

Mourdant also performed better than Badenoch in a recent opinion poll conducted by PeoplePolling for GB News.

The survey showed there was no clear frontrunner in the race to replace Sunak.

It indicated Braverman and Badenoch’s support stood at just two per cent.

Moudant, who only trailed Johnson and ex-Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, was slightly ahead on seven per cent.

A staggering 51 per cent said “none of the above” with an additional 20 per cent claiming they do not know.

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