Boris Johnson’s replacement: runners and riders

As the crisis surrounding Boris Johnson’s prime minister deepens, a discreet audition of potential candidates to replace him as Britain’s prime minister has taken place behind closed doors.

Since the partygate scandal over lockdown-breaking gatherings in Downing Street came to light late last year, several senior members of Johnson’s cabinet have been preparing for a future competition and courting MPs over drinks, dinners and coffee meetings.

While the prime minister is tipping to the brink of being forced out of Downing Street, six key candidates are expected to bid to succeed him as Tory leader. Many others are also expected to run, potentially to secure a senior job in the next government.

Liz Truss

Liz Truss

Bookmakers’ odds: 15/2

Conservative Home Approval Ratings +49.

The Secretary of State has been open about her leadership ambitions since becoming International Trade Secretary in 2019. The moment Johnson was at maximum risk, she was on a practical trip to Indonesia.

The 46-year-old South West Norfolk MP arrived at Parliament in 2010 and quickly climbed the ladder of ministers under David Cameron’s leadership. She has held a wide range of cabinet roles, including as Environment and Justice Secretary.

Although she supported Remain in the 2016 referendum, Truss has become one of the most staunch defenders of Brexit, having undergone a conversion that many pro-leave MPs attribute to her leadership ambitions. She is one of the favorites on the influential leadership list run by ConservativeHome, the party’s popular grassroots website.

Truss, who called one of his daughters Liberty, has tried to repeat former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s style. Her leadership will focus on libertarian ideals or “Thatcherism on steroids,” as one Tory official described it.

Nadhim Zahawi

Nadhim Zahawi

Bookmakers’ odds: 23/2

ConservativeHome approval rating: +56

Until his promotion to chancellor, Zahawi was seen as an outside bet to become the next prime minister. A Member of Parliament who joined the Cabinet less than a year ago has had limited political experience on the front lines. That changed when he replaced Sunak on Tuesday night.

The 55-year-old MP for Stratford-on-Avon has made rapid progress during Johnson’s presidency, first as vaccine minister during the coronavirus pandemic, then as education secretary.

His decision to support Johnson’s government at the time of maximum danger may have been based on loyalty to the Prime Minister, but was also out of ambition.

But many in the party believe he has hurt his chances by joining “a sinking ship” in the words of a Member of Parliament.

If Johnson resigns, Zahawi will likely be one of the first candidates to declare his intention to succeed him, with one of the most prepared leadership teams of other likely candidates.

An ally said: “Nadhim has been working hard on the parliamentary party for some time. No one doubts he will run and I think there is a good chance he will win.

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak

Bookmakers’ odds: 7/1

ConservativeHome approval rating: 14.9

Until revelations earlier this year that Sunak’s wife had tax status and that he had a U.S. green card while he was minister, the former chancellor was the favorite to succeed Johnson – in part thanks to his steady performance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sunak’s shock resignation on Tuesday night confirmed the 42-year-old as one of the most prominent candidates to replace Johnson.

But the MP for Richmond, Yorkshire, is likely to be challenged on his economic record, which has been unpopular among Tory MPs and party members.

Some senior tories have questioned whether Sunak will be in charge of the leadership, suggesting he may choose to leave politics instead. In his farewell letter to Johnson, he wrote: “I recognize that this may be my last ministerial job”.

If Sunak stays put, his pitch is likely to be focused on fiscal accountability, tax cuts and state austerity.

Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid

Bookmakers’ odds: 8/1.

Conservative Home Approval Ratings +43

“Enough is enough,” the former health secretary told the House of Commons on Wednesday. It was Javid who launched the final push that is likely to end Johnson’s prime ministerial career with a condemnatory farewell letter.

The 52-year-old MP for Bromsgrove has run for party leadership twice before: in 2016 after the Brexit vote and again in 2019, where he was knocked out of the competition after finishing fourth in the vote among MPs.

Javid’s role as Johnson’s primary political assassin will help his position among the Tory grassroots, but Johnson’s loyalists will hardly forget the betrayal.

Allies of Javid said he has not decided whether he will run again. One said that in his farewell speech “it was obvious that he has a bid to reshape the party for the future and bring it back in line. Saj can still eventually roll in behind another.”

Penny Mordaunt

Penny Mordaunt

Bookmakers’ odds: 9/2

Conservative home approval ratings: N / A

The bookmakers’ favorite to succeed Johnson, the trade minister, has long been a coded critic of the prime minister. In last month’s vote of confidence, Mordaunt declined to say whether she supported Johnson, but stated “I did not elect this prime minister”.

As a junior minister outside the cabinet, Mordaunt does not appear on ConservativeHome’s leadership rankings. But her campaign team has been pregnant since the release of her book, BiggerMay last year.

The 49-year-old former Royal Naval reservist first entered parliament in 2010 as MP for Portsmouth North. She later joined the Cabinet under Theresa May’s leadership and served as International Development and Defense Secretary.

Mordaunt was a key supporter of Brexit in the 2016 referendum, but she is also a member of the One Nation caucus, which represents liberal conservative MPs.

An ally of Mordaunt said her leadership would try to unite different wings of the Tory party. “She wants to talk about being pro-Brexit, and in favor of Global Britain and social liberalism,” the MP said.

Tom Tugendhat

Tom Tugendhat

Bookmakers’ odds: 12/1

Conservative home approval ratings: N / A

The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee has made no secret of the fact that he does not like Johnson and his desire to become the next prime minister. Since Johnson’s turbulent tenure as foreign minister, Tugendhat has been one of the prime minister’s most ardent critics.

The 49-year-old MP for Tonbridge and Malling served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars before entering parliament in 2010. He chaired the Committee on Foreign Affairs in 2017 and has used it as a platform to become the Conservative Party. most prominent party. Members of Parliament.

Tugendhat is not on the ConservativeHomes rankings, but has 12/1 odds to follow Johnson according to the bookmakers. His leadership is expected to focus on ideological and moral renewal of the party.

A Member of Parliament who is in line with Tugendhat said: “Tom wants a good race with it, but … his best hope is to stand and get a good cabinet job out of it. Otherwise he will be the next leader of the opposition . ”

Other candidates

Several other prominent tories are considering leadership bids, but their chances are more limited.

Jeremy Hunt The former health secretary will be in charge, but many MPs to the right of the party are skeptical of Hunt’s record and delivery style. A lawmaker described Hunt as “Theresa [May] in trousers ”, a reference to the former prime minister.

Ben Wallace The Minister of Defense has won praise for his handling of the Ukraine war, but is still untested in other policy areas. Seen as a solid pair of hands in the party, Wallace has not built up such an extensive campaign team as other candidates. “I’m still not sure Ben will run,” an ally said.

Michael Gove The equalization secretary told Johnson early Wednesday that he should step down and possibly launch a third bid on management that potentially focuses on delivering an equalization agenda to tackle regional inequality. But his allies insist he will not run again.

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