The Home Secretary, who has been hit with a furious backlash over the Government’s policy to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda, is behind among both the general public and Tory supporters, according to the Ipsos survey for The Standard.
Sixty-nine per cent of adults in Britain do not believe Ms Patel would be a good PM, with just ten per cent saying she would, giving her a net score of -59.
The poll also showed that on asylum and immigration, 28 per cent think Labour now has the best policies, compared to 22 per cent for the Tories, a turnaround from just before the General Election in December 2019 when the Conservatives led by 34 per cent to 23 per cent.
The findings came just weeks after Ms Patel announced some migrants who arrive in the UK by unauthorised means will be sent 4,000 miles to East Africa.
The scheme will initially focus mainly on single men crossing the Channel in small boats or lorries to reach Britain.
Deportees to Rwanda will be provided with accommodation while their asylum claims are considered and if approved they will be allowed to remain in the country.
The policy has sparked a storm of protests in Britain, including from some MPs and community leaders, partly because of Rwanda’s record on human rights.
Ms Patel has defended the deportations, insisting they are an act of a “humanitarian nation” and would stop people risking their lives in unseaworthy small boats as they try to cross the Channel.
Her net poll score is far behind Levelling-up Secretary Michael Gove who is on -46, another possible contender to succeed Boris Johnson if he is ousted.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has faced controversy over his wife’s non-dom status and his US Green Card, has seen his ratings fall, with only 22 per cent now saying he has what it takes to be a good Prime Minister, with 51 per cent disagreeing, compared to a 33/34 per cent split in January.
This gives him a net score now of -29.
Mr Johnson, who himself has been engulfed by the partygate scandal, is slightly ahead, with 31 per cent believing that he has what it takes to be a good PM, and 56 per cent taking the opposite view, a net score of -25.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who is seen to have performed well during the Ukraine crisis, has the least negative rating among potential Cabinet challengers for the top job, with 16 per cent backing him and 30 per cent with doubts and a net score of -14, though this may be partly down to the 27 per cent who say “don’t know”.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has a net score of -22, followed by Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, both on -27, ex-Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on -31, and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab on -37.
In comparison, Sir Keir Starmer is on -12.
Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos, said: “Labour maintain a slender lead on asylum and immigration, but in truth both parties’ ratings are fairly lacklustre on this issue among the public.
“Even Conservative supporters though think the government could do a better job of handling immigration, which will be contributing to the Home Secretary’s low favourability among the public.
“Meanwhile, Boris Johnson retains support from his own voters, while Rishi Sunak’s public ratings as a potential PM have fallen, but few other leading Conservatives have a strong positive profile among most Britons.”
Any future Tory leader would be chosen ultimately by the party faithful.
Among Conservative supporters, Ms Patel also has the lowest score, with 64 per cent saying she does not have what it takes to be a good PM, and 22 per cent thinking she does, giving a net score of -42.
In stark contrast, Mr Johnson has a net score of +52, up 14 points since January, with Mr Sunak falling from +28 to +5.
But this may still leave him in a reasonably strong position for a challenge as Mr Javid is on +3, Mr Wallace -1, Ms Truss -17, Mr Raab -18, Mr Hunt -26, Mr Zahawi -27 and Mr Gove -36.
Sir Keir is on +46 among Labour backers.
* Ipsos interviewed 1,006 adults across Britain between April 20 and 28. Data are weighted