Six MPs who could succeed Theresa May
If Theresa May loses a vote of no confidence on Wednesday evening, the starting gun will be fired on who will be the next Prime Minister.
With no obvious candidate to succeed her, the race to Downing Street is set to be highly unpredictable.
City A.M. looks at six of the most likely candidates:
Boris Johnson CITY TALK
Boris Johnson quit cabinet over May’s Brexit deal and has pilloried it from the sidelines ever since (Source: Getty)
It feels like Boris Johnson has been running a continuous leadership campaign since about 2007, but the former London Mayor famously ducked the challenge in 2016 after being knifed by Michael Gove.
His tenure as foreign secretary did little to cover himself in glory (“F*** business” was one of his more enduring interventions) but he still has as loyal band of followers who believe he is the man to unite the country.
Johnson, complete with a slimmer waistline and neater haircut, was spotted walking through one of Parliament’s cafes with Owen Paterson on Wednesday morning – just hours after Paterson had put in a letter calling for Theresa May to go.
Weakness: Serious times need serious people…is that really BoJo?
Odds (to be next Prime Minister): 5/1
Dominic Raab quit as Brexit secretary last month (Source: Getty)
The second Brexit secretary to quit this year, Dominic Raab was being talked up as a future Conservative party leader long before he was promoted to Cabinet.
A lawyer by trade who worked in the Foreign Office, Raab could present himself as a level-headed operator ready to take over the negotiations in a heartbeat.
He has the advantage of being seen as a break with the old guard.
Strength: Has the right ratio of experience to baggage.
Weakness: Didn’t seem to realise just how much trade goes through Dover.
David Davis (left) shows EU negotiator Michel Barnier Number 10 (Source: Getty)
A lazy politician who doesn’t read his brief, or a wheeler-dealer who can get deals done: they seem to be the two main views of David Davis.
He was the future once in 2005, until a young man called David Cameron stole the leadership of the party away from him with a promise of modernising the Tories.
Davis’s tenure as Brexit secretary generated more heat than light, and since his resignation he’s not been shy in blaming government officials for undermining his negotiating position.
Hard to place in a political tribe, Davis is happy to work with anyone to get what he wants, including now-Labour peer Shami Chakrabarti, in a row with the government over civil liberties in 2008.
It may be that he strikes a deal with Dominic Raab – who used to work for him before becoming an MP – to secure the top job.
Strength: He knows Brussels.
Weakness: He’s already failed once.
Sajid Javid took over from Amber Rudd as home secretary in April (Source: Getty)
The home secretary is hard to pin down when it comes to Brexit, which could be a strength and a weakness.
Widely seen as a eurosceptic, he nonetheless backed Remain in the 2016 referendum, much to the anger of his Brexiter colleagues.
Since being promoted to the Home Office in April, he has been seen as rediscovering his eurosceptic edge, but is ultimately still endorsing Theresa May’s deal.
Its also worth noting many Tory MPs are unhappy with his inability to squeeze more money out of the Treasury to boost police funding – an issue repeatedly brought up on the doorsteps.
Strength: Not seen as a headbanger
Weakness: Not seen as anything
Penny Mordaunt says the PM has ‘her full support’ (Source: Getty)
The international development secretary has struggled to hide her disapproval for Theresa May’s Brexit deal, and repeatedly asked for a free vote when it comes before MPs.
A Brexiteer in instinct and practice, she played a low key role in the Vote Leave campaign in 2016, but since joining the Cabinet, Mordaunt has been active in taking on the sex scandal involving aid agencies.
Popular with the armed forces – which is always useful if you want to be Tory leader.
Strength: Has Cabinet experience without being seen as the old guard.
Weakness: Just a bit too low profile to beat more established figures.
Michael Gove was widely expected to quit after May unveiled her Brexit deal, but has backed it (Source: Getty)
It would be some turnaround for Michael Gove if he was to become Prime Minister.
Banished from government after betraying Boris Johnson in 2016, Gove was the very definition of a loyal backbencher during his time in the wilderness.
His tenure as Defra secretary since 2017 has been carried out with his usual gusto and enthusiasm, and he has often been the first out of the blocks to defend May’s Brexit plans when others have been walking away.
Gove certainly has the experience and intellectual ability to do the job, but with Remainers not liking him for pushing for Brexit, and Brexiters unhappy with him backing the deal, it’s hard to see how he would get through to the final ballot.
Strength: No one knows the detail better.
Weakness: Would you trust him?