Kemi Badenoch vs the world: Everyone the Tory rising star has beefed with

LONDON — Not besties with Kemi? You’re far from the only one.

The U.K.’s business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch, widely tipped as a future Tory leader, has been unafraid to skirmish with politicians, institutions and, whisper it, even this very publication.

POLITICO ran through all of those at the receiving end of Kemi Badenoch’s wrath in a list quite likely to need updating.

Henry Staunton

Grab your popcorn, it’s the big one. An explosive row with the former chair of the scandal-hit Post Office takes a fresh twist Tuesday as Henry Staunton is grilled by the House of Commons business committee.

Badenoch sacked Staunton in January as the government-owned Post Office was engulfed in a row about the treatment of post-masters wrongly accused of stealing.

But Staunton didn’t exactly go quietly, using an interview in the Sunday Times to accuse Badenoch’s department of stalling compensation to those swept up in the scandal until after an election — claims furiously denied by Badenoch in a punchy House of Commons statement.

Weeks of claims and counter-claims between the pair have followed — and there’s no signs of this row wrapping up anytime soon.

The Sunday Times

Badenoch hasn’t just trained her fire on Staunton, however.

She took direct aim at the Sunday Times, calling its interview with the ex-Post Office chairman “a disgraceful misrepresentation” and saying the journalist holding the pen “chose to ignore the facts and run with Staunton’s words.”

Nadine White

Badenoch’s no stranger to fighting with reporters.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, journalist Nadine White, then of HuffPost UK, emailed the then-equalities minister asking her to respond to claims she had “refused to participate” in a video promoting the vaccine in Black communities.

Badenoch didn’t hang around for the story. She instead took to X, accusing White of sowing “confusion and mistrust,” sharing screenshots of emails, and saying it was “creepy and bizarre to fixate on who didn’t participate in a video.” White said Badenoch’s intervention had left her publicly targeted on the social network, forcing her to “switch my public profile to private in order to preserve my mental health.”

Michael Gove

Leveling-Up Secretary Michael Gove — a Tory big-hitter — leant Badenoch’s 2022 Tory leadership bid some serious heft when he endorsed her, praising her “intellect and no-bulls**t drive.”

But, come 2023, things were looking decidedly less rosy for the Conservative pair. Speaking to the Times earlier this month, Badenoch said Gove “did something that was very, very annoying” and their friendship is “not what it used to be.”

Still, at least they can iron out their differences in the Conservative “Evil Plotters” WhatsApp group.

Nadine Dorries

In that same interview, Badenoch hit out at Nadine Dorries, the former culture secretary and ally of Boris Johnson who used a book to effectively claim Badenoch was being controlled by powerful Conservative men.

Pushing back, Badenoch accused Dorries of arguing she had “no thoughts and no opinions of my own,” and said death threats to her had intensified since the book’s publication.

Dorries pushed back — showing there’s no love lost between these two.

POLITICO

Badenoch got a tad irate with your good friends at POLITICO last year over a story revealing that she held talks with media mogul Rupert Murdoch within days of joining the U.K. Cabinet – then failed to declare them in transparency data.

Taking again to (you’ve guessed it) X, Badenoch called the story “a lie” and urged this title to “stop spreading fake news.”

Kate Osborne

Labour MP Kate Osborne got into a spat with Badenoch at the tail-end of last year during a grilling by the women and equalities committee. Osborne accused Badenoch — who has repeatedly waded into thorny debates about gender — of  “inflaming the situation” faced by transgender people with her public comments on the matter.

Badenoch wasn’t having that, accusing Osborne at the committee session of “lying” and saying she was fed up of being “maligned by people making false statements.” Not for the first time.

Anneliese Dodds

Amid a bitter dispute this week over anti-Muslim prejudice in the Tory party, Badenoch (on X again, natch) went toe-to-toe with Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds. Dodds accused the Conservatives of refusing to adopt the definition of Islamophobia “used by every other major political party in Britain.”

Badenoch blasted back, arguing that the definition favored by Dodds “creates a blasphemy law via the back door if adopted.”

And she added: “In this country, we have a proud tradition of religious freedom AND the freedom to criticize religion.”

Brexiteers

Kemi Badenoch was a proud Brexiteer in 2016, even revealing that the decision to back Britain’s EU exit split her family.

But that wasn’t enough for some of her fellow Brexit enthusiasts, who criticized her decision as business secretary to slow down government efforts to repeal EU laws last year. Tory MP David Jones accused her of lacking “courtesy” and being “disrespectful” towards the Commons over the so-called “Brexit bonfire.”

“I’m certainly not an arsonist,” Kemi hit back in a later committee session. “I’m a Conservative.”

The Museum of London

Even museums aren’t free from a bashing by Badenoch.

The Cabinet minister took aim at research late last year which suggested Black women were more likely to have died during London’s 14th century plague outbreak.

Badenoch said such “unreliable” research could “whip up tensions around history and racism.”

The story also contained some bonus BBC beef, with Badenoch declaring the broadcaster’s coverage of the study “inaccurate and alarmist.”

Let’s hope she doesn’t say that about this article.