London, (Parliament Politics Magazine) – With confirmation that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is resigning later today, the starting pistol has been fired on a leadership race, not only to be the next leader of the Conservative Party, but also the next Prime Minister.
Here we look at the potential runners and riders.
Ben Wallace – 9/4
Mr Wallace is the current Secretary of Defence, having served in this role since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in 2019.
He has kept a relatively low profile, but his handling of the response to the Ukraine invasion has been lauded by many of his colleagues and by Party members, indeed he has toppedseveral Conservative Home grassroots supporters’ pollsrecently.
While seen as enjoying support from across the Conservative Party, he has never expressed much interest towards the top job and is widely rumoured to be more interested in becoming the Secretary General of NATO.
Penny Mordaunt – 11/2
Ms Mordaunt was a supporter of Jeremy Hunt’s unsuccessful2019 leadership bid. A popular former Defence Secretary and the first woman to hold the post, she was demoted by Boris Johnson as punishment for not supporting his leadership campaign. She later became paymaster general in 2020 and then moved to the Department for International Trade, where she has impressed colleagues with her work ethic, innovative approach to deal making and leadership qualities.
A leading Brexiteer and Royal Naval reservist she has at times been critical of No 10 most notably over the Partygatescandal. It has been reported that rival leadership campaigns have compiled a dossier her criticisms which they plan to use against her.
Sajid Javid – 9/1
Sajid Javid, who unsuccessfully ran for the Conservative leadership in 2019, and has held two of the four great offices of state, was appointed Health Secretary last summer, as Covid restrictions were lifted. He, pleased the Covid Recovery Group of MPs by taking a more hawkish approach to lifting restriction.
Mr Javid is also given credit that alongside former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, he was the first Cabinet minister to resign amid the fallout of the Chris Pincher scandal on Tuesday night. He seem to sum up the mood of many Conservative Ministers when he said “can no longer continue in good conscience”.His resignation sparked around 60 other ministers to resign. However, some of his supporters worry about his lack of charisma and robotic delivery of speeches.
Rishi Sunak – 5/1
Mr Sunak, the former Chancellor was long considered the natural heir to Mr Johnson. His work furlough scheme and support for ordinary people during the COVID pandemic saw him frequently top polls of Conservative supporters. However, a series of revelations about his family’s wealth, wife’s non-dom status, hold a US green-card and policy missteps including massive tax rises during the cost of living crisis and a bungled budget which has seen his popularity wane.
Like Mr Javid he has however been given credit for resigning on Tuesday evening and being at the vanguard of the events that lead to the removal of Boris Johnson.
Liz Truss – 8/1
Ms Truss is popular with Conservative MPs and members. Having been Foreign Secretary since September 2021, she has been an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine, to the point she was one of the few international politicians singled out for criticism by Sergei Lavrov the Russian Foreign Minister.
At the end of last year anonymous allies of the Prime Minister briefed that she was on manoeuvres and had been trying to woo backbench MPs with a series of “Fizz with Liz” events. The suggestion was that she was looking at launching a leadership bid if Partygate brought down the PM. Her critics also suggest she is more “style than substance” pointing atpoor media performances and leaden delivery of speeches including the now infamous cheese speech.
Nadhim Zahawi –
Mr Zahawi first came to public prominence as the vaccines minister during the Covid pandemic. With the role out of vaccines across the country widely seen as one of the most successful global programmes, he was rewarded with promotion to Education Secretary and then Chancellor of the Exchequer after the resignation of Rishi Sunak. He is popular with backbench MPs.
A businessman who set up the YouGov polling company, he is likely to portray himself as someone with a strong hinterland and as the unity candidate.
However, detractors he lacks political judgement, pointing out that Mr Zahawi repeatedly defended Mr Johnson throughout the Partygate scandal and the latter Pincher scandal, before telling him go just 24 hours after being promoted to the role ofChancellor.
Tom Tugendhat – 14/1
Mr Tugendhat is billed as being from the “One Nation” wing of the party and a so-called moderate or “wet”. He has never held high ministerial office, although he is the current chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.
His supporters point out he has been strongly critical of Mr Johnson throughout his premiership and having not served as a Minister is “untainted” by the Partygate and Pincher scandals. They also point out to his impressive military record.
Jeremy Hunt – 14/1
Mr Hunt, the former health secretary, lost to out Mr Johnson in the final round of the 2019 Conservative leadership contestand returned to the backbenches. Since then, he has been a constant thorn in the side of the Prime Minister and Health Secretaries, using his role as Chairman of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, to frequently attack the Government.
He spoke out against Mr Johnson prior to last month’s confidence vote and even hinted he would run to replace Boris Johnson in May.
However, since returning to the backbenches his popularity with both his colleagues and Conservative party members has collapsed as he has cut a lonely figure, with some of his detractors describing him as “sulky” and this Parliament’s Ted Heath.
Dominic Raab – 16/1
The Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary, brings with him a wealth of experience including having served as Foreign Secretary under Mr Johnson. A Brexiteer, he has introduced a slew of measures aimed at clamping down on “wokery” in the courts and prisons and is seen a competent media performer and safe pair of hands.
However, the shambolic withdraw from Afghanistan, which saw him and his permanent secretary go on holiday as the crisis unfolded, damaged him.
Michael Gove – 33/1
Mr Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary is a serial leadership candidate have stood on two previous occasions. He famously quit as Mr Johnson’s campaign manager in 2016 to launch abid for the top job himself, claiming that Mr Johnson was “wasn’t capable” of building the team needed to run the country and again in 2019.
He has a wealth of Government experience, having been consistently in Cabinet since 2010 and serving under three different Prime Ministers.
Widely regarded as “highly capable” and one of the great thinkers in Parliament, he is seen as a divisive and Machiavellian figure, tainted by political wheeling and dealing.
Priti Patel – 40/1
Mr Johnson’s Home Secretary since he took office in 2019, Ms Patel has been an outspoken critic of the previous immigration regime, replacing it with a points-based system and negotiating the channel migrant deal with Rwanda, which sees illegal migrants deported to the African country. She is popular with grassroot supporters, however she is not popular with backbench Conservative MPs
Suella Braverman – 40/1
Mr Johnson’s Attorney General since 2020, Ms Braverman is probably the last serious candidate of note. The Fareham MP has never run a big Government department, however was a Chair of the highly influential European Research Group from 2017-2018 and will certainly brandish her Brexiteer credential during any leadership bid.
Also listed on the betting sites are:
David Frost 50/1
Tobias Ellwood 66/1
Jacob Rees-Mogg – 80/1
Johnny Mercer – 100/1
Esther McVey – 100/1
Grant Shapps – 100/1
Matt Hancock – 200/1