April 24, 2024

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Kemi Badenoch denies speculation about Rishi Sunak's ouster

Kemi Badenoch denies speculation about Rishi Sunak's ouster
  • Written by Becky Morton
  • BBC political correspondent

Video explanation,

MPs linked to leadership speculation should 'stop it', Kemi Badenoch says

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch has said Conservative MPs speculating about Rishi Sunak being sacked as Prime Minister should “stop it”.

Reports have circulated in recent days that some Conservative MPs want Commons leader Penny Mordaunt to replace him.

But Ms Badenoch told the BBC this was only a “small minority of MPs”.

Asked about reports that support was gathering around Ms Mordaunt as a potential replacement for the Prime Minister, Ms Badenoch said: “I'm sure if Penny were here she would distance herself from those comments.”

“I have been saying for a long time that the small minority of MPs who think this is something worth talking about should stop it.”

She added: “I don't think there are many such rumours… We need to make sure that one or two MPs cannot control the news narrative, when more than 350 MPs have different views.”

Currently, only two Tory MPs have publicly called for Sunak's resignation, Sir Simon Clarke and Dame Andrea Jenkins.

In response to a question about some Conservatives' calls for him to resign, the Prime Minister insisted that his party was “united in the desire to achieve a brighter future for our country.”

“I'm not interested in Westminster politics, it doesn't matter. What matters is the future of our country,” he added.

Mordaunt is hugely popular with the party's grassroots, and previously held the party's leadership in both contests in 2022.

As Leader of the House of Commons, her public profile came to prominence when she played a key role in the king's coronation, carrying a ceremonial sword for more than an hour.

Former Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said it was too late to replace Sunak as Prime Minister.

The Conservative MP told Times Radio: “There comes a moment in the election cycle where you put on your best suit and stand up and march to the sound of the guns and keep at it.”

In an attempt to shift focus to the economy, Downing Street issued a statement from Sunak on Sunday evening pledging that 2024 “will be the year Britain recovers.”

The Prime Minister said he hopes to see “further progress” on inflation when the latest official figures are published on Wednesday.

He added: “There is now a real feeling that the economy is at a turning point, as all economic indicators point in the right direction.”

However, some Conservatives are concerned that the Budget's National Insurance cut has failed to boost the party's poll ratings.

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Penny Mordaunt played a key role in the King's coronation last year

From 1 April, the Government will pay the full cost of apprenticeships for people aged 21 or under in small businesses, backed by £60 million of new investment for next year.

Last week, the Prime Minister came under pressure over his response to comments allegedly made by Tory donor Frank Hester about Diane Abbott.

Mr Hester, who has donated at least £10 million to the party, reportedly said the MP had made him want to “hate all black women”.

The businessman apologized for making the “rude” comments, but said his words “had nothing to do with her gender or the color of her skin.”

Downing Street initially refused to describe these remarks as racist, but later did so.

It came after Badenoch, who is also Equalities Minister, said the comments were reportedly racist and “appalling”.

The Prime Minister rejected calls from opposition parties to return money donated by Mr Hester to the Conservative Party, arguing that he had apologized and his “remorse must be accepted”.

Asked if she was comfortable with her party keeping the donations, Badenoch said: “Yes… I thought the comments were racist but he apologised. I think when people apologise, we have to accept that and move on.”

She added that the controversy was a “distraction” and “nowhere near the priorities of any of my constituents.”

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