Home Estate Planning Tory MPs plotting against Sunak are ‘not my friends’, Kemi Badenoch says

Tory MPs plotting against Sunak are ‘not my friends’, Kemi Badenoch says

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Conservative MPs who are plotting against Rishi Sunak are “not my friends”, Kemi Badenoch has insisted.

The business and trade secretary told the BBC she was “extremely frustrated” by the actions of those seeking to undermine the Prime Minister and the suggestions that she could replace him.

Badenoch – who ran for party leader against Liz Truss in the summer of 2022 and has been widely seen as a prospective party leader – did not rule out a future second leadership bid.

She recently topped a Conservative Home poll of most popular cabinet ministers, while Sunak’s personal popularity ratings are well into negative territory.

However, Badenoch stressed current speculation over her ambitions was “all a distraction”, following Sir Simon Clarke’s call for Sunak to go and warning the Tories risk “massacre” at the next general election.

Speaking on Sky’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, Badenoch distanced herself from the idea of becoming the fourth leader of the party since 2019, and said: “They need to stop messing around and get behind the leader… most people in the country are not interested in all of this Westminster tittle-tattle.”

She added: “Quite frankly, the people who keep putting my name in there are not my friends. They don’t care about me. They don’t care about my family or what this would entail. They are just stirring.”

But Badenoch did not deny her aspirations for running the country, and told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg: “If you’d asked me two years ago in January 2022, I would have laughed it off and said it was a completely crazy idea.”

She added: “What I would remind people is that after Liz Truss left I stood up and said I’m not running again, Rishi’s the person who should do the job. 

“I did so because I worked with him at the Treasury, I knew he had a handle on the economy.”

Since Clarke’s Telegraph op-ed, Will Dry, a former No10 pollster and aide, has said the UK is “on course for at least a decade of Labour rule” and revealed he had joined a rebel plot.

The latest round of Tory turmoil followed a significant opinion poll suggesting a 1997-style wipeout, which was commissioned by the Conservative Britain Alliance and linked to Lord David Frost.

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