|MP||Odds To Become Next Prime Minister|
The early favourite to become the next Prime Minister is a man known for his unkempt blonde hair, bumbling persona and unfortunate zip-wire antics as much as his political endeavours. He has previously resisted the temptation to challenge for the leadership but confirmed last month that he would stand. As a former Foreign Secretary and Mayor of London, he has the public profile and experience to step up to the top job, but would the more cautious Tories really take a chance on ‘BoJo’ to sort out Brexit and bring the country together?
An MP since 2010, Raab’s chances must be enhanced by the fact that he is a staunch Brexiteer who had been calling for the UK to leave the European Union long before the 2016 referendum. He was made Brexit Secretary last July but resigned just a few months later after saying that he could not support May’s deal. Raab may be seen as more of a forward-thinking candidate but perhaps won’t go down so well with the Tory old guard.
Gove was quick to pay tribute to May when she announced her resignation but he may already be plotting another tilt at the boss’ job, having missed out in 2016. On that occasion, he stepped in at the last minute after appearing to use Boris Johnson as a stalking horse for his own ambitions. He finished behind May and Andrea Leadsom three years ago, but the intervening period has been so chaotic that Conservatives may feel they should not ignore his claims a second time.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is understood to have played a pivotal role in May’s exit, having told the outgoing PM that she no longer had the support of the Cabinet or her party. Hunt is seen as someone with integrity and principles, but he is also a former Remainer and may find it difficult to go all the way and win the contest for No.10.
Like Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid’s chances of becoming Prime Minister could be scuppered by the fact that he backed Remain in the 2016 referendum. He has been making all the right noises since then, saying that the Conservatives must now deliver Brexit and rebuild trust. Javid’s political career has been on a sharp upward curve since he became an MP in 2010, his strong record of speaking out against anti-Semitism has earned him widespread acclaim and he was appointed Home Secretary in April 2018.
Andrea Leadsom looked on course to replace David Cameron as PM three years ago, until some ill-advised comments about motherhood and then-leadership rival Theresa May forced her to withdraw from the race. She has always been firmly behind Brexit and quit the Cabinet when she decided that she could not back May’s withdrawal bill. It remains to be seen whether she still has the support she did in 2016 or whether her best opportunity has passed.
As leader of the Labour party, Corbyn is highly unlikely to be the next Prime Minister, as there will almost certainly not be a General Election before Theresa May’s successor is appointed. Corbyn responded to May’s resignation by saying that she had finally come to the same conclusion that everyone else had known for months, that she could not govern. Corbyn has undoubtedly won over a lot of new supporters over the past few years, but there are still rifts in his own camp to heal and his own stance over Brexit has hardly endeared him to a frustrated public.
What Happens Next?
With May set to stand down on 7th June, Conservative MPs now have a couple of weeks to consider whether they wish to stand. Anyone who is interested needs at least two other MPs to back them before they can be allowed to enter the race. Assuming there are at least three candidates, the contest will include several rounds of voting. MPs will nominate their favourite each time, and the one with the lowest number of votes will drop out until just two remain.
At this stage, the vote will go to a wider postal ballot of the Conservative party. This is not just the MPs but around 124,000 members from all over the country. The new leader is expected to be announced by the end of July, when Parliament’s summer recess begins. As Prime Minister, they can then decide whether to call a General Election before the next scheduled date in May 2022.