As Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced rapidly mounting pressure from members of his own party to resign on Wednesday, the spotlight turned to who could succeed him as Conservative leader and head of government.
Mr Johnson promised to fight on as a wave of ministers and their aides resigned, but if he is forced to resign, some lawmakers here are seen as favorites to take over the party’s top position.
Liz Truss, the Secretary of State appointed by Mr Johnson last year, is seen as a rising political star. She has held positions under former Prime Ministers David Cameron and Theresa May, drawing comparisons to Margaret Thatcher after posting photos from a trip to Russia last year.
Ms. Truss is the first female foreign minister for a conservative government, and her proponents of sanctions against Russian oligarchs at the start of the war in Ukraine were applauded by the public. But she also expressed her strong support for Mr Johnson following the departure of two of his ministers on Tuesday, so it remains to be seen whether that loyalty could hurt her politics.
Nadhim Zahawi, who was appointed finance minister hours after Rishi Sunak’s resignation, has moved up the ranks of the Conservative Party over the past decade and is seen as a strong candidate to lead the party. He sided with Mr Johnson but made it clear on Wednesday morning that his main focus was public service to the country.
Mr Zahawi, 55, was previously the education secretary and served as vaccine minister during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. He was born in Iraq in 1967 and emigrated with his family to Britain in the 1970s when Saddam Hussein came to power. He has often spoken of how Britain has given him and his family “everything” and he feels an obligation to serve the nation.
Jeremy Hunt, the former Secretary of State who defeated Mr Johnson in the latest party leadership contest, is also seen as a potential party leader and is the bookmakers’ favorite for the top job. After losing the 2019 leadership contest, he moved to the back seat of the party but remained an influential member.
Mr Hunt has been chairman of the Select Committee Health and Social Care since January 2020. During the pandemic, he has been an outspoken critic of the government’s approach to Covid-19. Mr Hunt initially opposed Brexit in a pivotal referendum in 2016, but has expressed support in subsequent years. His public blunders have hurt him in the past, including when he accidentally described his Chinese wife as Japanese.
Rishi Sunak, the former finance minister whose resignation on Tuesday dealt a serious blow to Mr Johnson, has long been seen as a potential party leader, even though his reputation has been tarnished by recent controversies.
He was politically injured earlier this year when it was revealed that his wealthy wife had evaded tax by claiming special status and that he himself held a U.S. green card for months, allowing him to live in the United States for months. and work. after he became Britain’s top financial officer. He was also fined for violating the corona measures after briefly attending a birthday party for Mr Johnson at 10 Downing Street in 2020.
Still, Mr Sunak’s competence and his role in delivering aid packages to businesses and individuals during the coronavirus pandemic have made him popular with the party and voters.