Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove among ‘at least ten’ Cabinet ministers weighing up bids to be next Prime Minister

Posted On: 
29th March 2019

At least ten Cabinet ministers are vying to succeed Theresa May and become the next Prime Minister, it has been reported.

Theresa May and members of her Cabinet at Prime Minister's Questions
PA Images

Mrs May has said she will quit Downing Street if the Commons backs her beleaguered Brexit deal at the third time of asking - allowing Britain to leave the EU on 22 May without the need for a longer extension.

The Guardian reports that Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Amber Rudd, Michael Gove and Matt Hancock are among those weighing up moves to replace her, having been urged to run by colleagues.

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Liz Truss, Gavin Williamson, Andrea Leadsom, Stephen Barclay and Penny Mordaunt are also understood to be considering bids for the top job.

An ally of Environment Secretary Mr Gove said that there are “definitely people urging him to run”, while a figure close to Health Secretary Mr Hancock said he was “being urged by loads of MPs to run as the ‘fresh-start’ candidate”.

Meanwhile friends of Mr Hunt said he was likely to run, while Home Secretary Mr Javid is also known to covet the post.

Other candidates from outside government include former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who dramatically threw his weight behind Mrs May's Brexit deal after she announced her departure plans.

Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has already tied down a political consultancy to help his push, while there is a Facebook page of “grassroots” activists with the slogan “Ready for Raab”.

Yesterday, he called on Mrs May to return to Brussels in an attempt to win fresh concessions on her Brexit deal, despite the EU insisting there would be no more negotiations.

Mr Raab said: "I think it’s a time for pragmatism and realism. One thing I would like to see is us going back to the EU again. There’s still the arm of friendship open, explain there’s still time for an exchange of letters providing for a legally binding exit from the backstop.

"At the same time if the EU still don’t move - that’s been treated as a fixture of these negotiations rather than being tested - but if they still don’t move we should have sensible conversations over the two weeks we’ve got left around the suite of no-deal arrangements that can be made to mitigate any of the potential damage on either side, to European jobs and livelihoods and to UK jobs and livelihoods."

A source close to a rival campaign told The Guardian that Mr Raab’s efforts to position himself as the most hardline Brexit candidate would leave him supported only by “15 or so hardcore Eurosceptics that it doesn’t look good to have backing you”.

Another source told the paper that in total “around 20 will run but most people will tuck in quite quickly behind the big players”, with Tory vice-chair James Cleverly and ex-Army officer Johnny Mercer also in the frame.