Who are the runners and riders to replace Boris Johnson as PM?

Rishi Sunak became the latest MP to throw his hat in the ring for the top job

Published

Following the resignation of Boris Johnson as the leader of the Conservative Party yesterday morning, speculation has been bubbling as to who would replace the Prime Minister.

Rishi Sunak became the latest MP to declare his campaign for leadership, publicly announcing his mission in a video, highlighting the history of his family.

He says: “Let me tell you a story. About a young woman, almost a lifetime ago, who boarded a plane armed with hope for a better life and the love of her family. This young woman came to Britain, where she managed to find a job, but it took her nearly a year to save enough money for her husband and children to follow her.

“One of those children was my mother, aged 15. My mum studied hard and got the qualifications to become a pharmacist. She met my dad, an NHS GP, and they settled in Southampton.

“Their story didn’t end there, but that is where my story began.”

Various members of the Tory party have hinted towards a campaign to be the next leader, with Suella Braverman and Steve Baker jumping the gun, announcing their hopes before Boris Johnson had resigned.

Some early contenders for the post include:

Tom Tugendhat

Tom Tugendhat
Tom Tugendhat

Named as one of the early contenders, the multi-lingual chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee became the first to announce his intention to stand for leader in January, should Mr Johnson be turfed out.

He repeated in Friday’s Daily Telegraph, saying he was putting together a “broad coalition” offering a “clean start”, with his odds shortening almost immediately as a result.

The former soldier wrote in the paper: “I have served before, in the military, and now in Parliament. Now I hope to answer the call once again as prime minister.”

A Remainer in the 2016 Brexit campaign, the former soldier has been a trenchant critic of Mr Johnson, a stance that would appear to have cost him any chance of ministerial preferment under the current leadership.

Steve Baker

Steve Baker
Steve Baker

Staunch Brexiteer and former minister Steve baker, a senior Tory backbencher, confirmed yesterday that he is seriously considering putting himself forward for the top job.

He said that the Tory blog ConservativeHome “consistently put me in their top ten for next Prime Minister, they sometimes put me in their top five”, but added it would be “very difficult” to persuade colleagues to back him for the party-wide ballot without Cabinet experience.

Mr Baker successfully plotted to oust Theresa May as prime minister but, despite his credentials as a Brexit die-hard, he is not a household name.

Suella Braverman

Suella Braverman
Suella Braverman

The Attorney General launched a surprising bid for leadership, as criticism for Boris Johnson took a fiery turn on Wednesday evening.

Ms Braverman, who was first elected as an MP in 2015, is deemed as something of an outsider for the leadership given the party grandees already tipped to be in the running.

A Suella Braverman for PM Twitter account has sprung up, with Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne becoming the first to tweet his support for her bid.

Rishi Sunak

The Former Chancellor of the Exchequer announced his leadership this afternoon, alongside the message: "Let’s restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country.”

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak

One of the main front-runners, acquiring odds of 4/1 with several bookmakers, the former chancellor’s rise from relative obscurity to household name came as he turned on the spending taps to protect jobs through the furlough scheme when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

His calm and collected delivery during televised Covid briefings, and his viral declaration of love for a popular soft drink, will have endeared him to those perhaps not always plugged in to the political goings-on, as well as his resignation on matters of principle on Tuesday.

MPs who haven't declared their campaign, but are believed to be Running:

Ben Wallace

The early frontrunner, according to many bookies, is the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who allegedly will reap support from Westminster colleagues who favour his straight-talking approach.

Ben Wallace
Ben Wallace

Bookmakers are offering odds as low as 9/4 on him securing the leadership, with the latest YouGov poll regarding him as the favourite.

The Defence Secretary is a Johnson loyalist, who served in the Scots Guards, and remains a prominent voice in the UK's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and this increased exposure could aid any leadership bid.

Penny Mordaunt

Penny Mordaunt rose to the public eye in 2019, after she was appointed as the UK's first female Defence Secretary before being dismissed by Mr Johnson shortly after becoming PM.

Penny Mordaunt
Penny Mordaunt

She took a position in Government in a 2020 Cabinet reshuffle, joining the Cabinet Office as Paymaster General.

In 2021, Ms Mordaunt was appointment as Minister of State for Trade Policy in 2021, and is currently the only female MP who is a Royal Navy Reservist.

She played a prominent role in the Leave campaign in the 2016 Brexit referendum, and has previously reportedly enjoyed the backing of Dame Andrea Leadsom among others.

She remains among the early favourites, and second only to Mr Wallace in the YouGov poll.

Liz Truss

Liz Truss
Liz Truss

Former Boris Johnson loyalist and Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, has kept quiet since her backstabbing campaign to remove the Prime Minister from power.

Returning from her trip to Indonesia to head back to Westminster as the Prime Minister announced his resignation, Ms Truss failed to hide her prospects to be the next leader, arguably channelling late PM Margaret Thatcher.

Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid
Sajid Javid

Said to be seriously considering a leadership campaign, the former Health Secretary has hinted towards a bid for leadership, after resigning on Thursday morning.

State school-educated Mr Javid, known as “The Saj” in some circles, is the son of a bus driver who arrived in England from Pakistan in the 1960s, and held ministerial roles in housing, business and culture before becoming chancellor, and then health secretary in the middle of the pandemic.

Mr Javid made it to the final four in the contest to replace Theresa May as Tory leader in 2019, but dropped out and subsequently endorsed Mr Johnson.

Nadhim Zahawi

Nadhim Zahawi
Nadhim Zahawi

An outside bet among the bookies, the former Education Secretary is labelled as a "safe pair of hands" if other candidates prove too controversial.

Iraqi-born Mr Zahawi was a successful businessman and came to wider prominence as vaccines minister during the pandemic where he was credited with playing a key part in the successful rollout of the jab.

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt

The former Foreign Secretary and ex-Health Secretary has been a persistent backbench critic of Mr Johnson and has called on the Prime Minister to quit.

Mr Hunt is anticipated to make a new bid for the leadership, having been runner-up to Mr Johnson in 2019, though is seen as a bit of a Thatcher reboot.

As chairman of the Commons Health Committee, he has used his position to make a number of critical interventions on the Government’s handling of the pandemic, although his strong support for lockdown measures will not have pleased all Tory MPs.