As crisis after crisis has engulfed Boris Johnson in recent months, rivals of Britain’s beleaguered Prime Minister have plotted behind closed doors to replace him.
After a dramatic cascade of nearly 60 resignations by lawmakers and government officials, Johnson was reluctantly forced to announce on Thursday that he would resign.
These are the potential contenders to succeed him as the new leader of the Conservative Party:
The former chancellor was Johnson’s heir presumptive for several months after he received credit for overseeing Britain’s first financial response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But Sunak’s shares fell earlier this year after revelations that his wife had non-resident tax status in the UK and that he had a US green card while he was a minister. However, he is still one of the bookmakers’ favorites to take over Johnson’s job.
Like Sunak, Health Minister Sajid Javid resigned this week over the botched handling of the resignation of Johnson’s former deputy head whip in a sexual misconduct scandal. While Javid’s resignation speech sounded very much like a pitch to Prime Minister, outlining how the party can reshape for future generations, it’s not yet clear whether he will participate.
The foreign minister, who has expressed her leadership ambitions in recent years, could now be in pole position. Truss is popular among conservative members, who would choose the eventual winner of a competition. Last month, a source at the State Department told DailyExpertNews that Truss had had “endless meetings with MPs” and that “it was suggested that she see what her constituency is, should the time come”. Truss’s office denied that there would be a covert leadership offer.
The Commerce Secretary is one of the bookmakers’ favorites to replace Johnson. After last month’s confidence vote, Penny Mordaunt declined to comment on whether she supported Johnson, with eyebrows raised among Westminster observers when she said, “I did not elect this prime minister.”
Tom Tugendhat, a former British military officer who chairs the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, is one of Johnson’s strongest critics and has made no secret of his desire to become prime minister.
Less than two days after he was appointed chancellor to replace Sunak, Nadhim Zahawi publicly called for Johnson to resign. Until his promotion, Zahawi, who joined the cabinet less than a year ago, was considered an unlikely choice as the next prime minister. But his rise under Johnson has been swift, making his mark with early success as vaccine minister amid the coronavirus pandemic and then education secretary.
Jeremy Hunt, former Secretary of Health and Foreign Affairs, lost the 2019 leadership vote to Johnson. He has since styled himself as an antidote to Johnson and is without a doubt the most prominent contender on the moderate, ex-Remain side of the party.
Read about the other contenders here.