Brexit chaos: Who could replace Theresa May in a snap Tory leadership race?

Posted On: 
10th December 2018

The chaos over Brexit has left Theresa May's premiership hanging by a thread. With a possible Conservative leadership race just around the corner, PolHome brings you the runners and riders.

Boris Johnson, Sajid Javid and Penny Mordaunt are all thought to be lining themselves up for a crack at the Tory leadership
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SAJID JAVID

Said to have approached colleagues directly about launching a leadership bid the moment the Prime Minister stands down or is forced from office. Backed Remain at the last minute despite previous euroscepticism, but is said to be assuring pro-Brexit colleagues he could deliver a managed no-deal departure from the EU. Would be the first non-white Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative party. Famously, the Bromsgrove MP's dad was a bus driver, and recently revealed he was bullied at school because he is Muslim. Borrowed £500 from a bank at the age of 14 to buy shares, further burnishing his Tory credentials.

 

BORIS JOHNSON

Darling of the Tory grassroots who has coveted the leadership since the day he was born. The only truly household name in Tory ranks but a Marmite figure with the public - especially since the EU referendum. Johnson has courted controversy throughout his political career. Lowlights include discussing a plan to have a tabloid journalist beaten up, alleged sexual indiscretions and putting jailed mother Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe at risk by giving MPs false information about her trip to Iran. Virtually guaranteed to win if he makes it onto the ballot paper, but will his internal enemies succeed in preventing him making it to the final two?

 

AMBER RUDD 

Theresa May loyalist who will cover you in a TV debate if you ask nicely. Had to row back in the early days of her tenure as Home Secretary on plans to force companies to disclose the number of foreign workers they employ. Eventually lost her job over the Windrush scandal after telling MPs the Home Office did not have deportation targets - even though it did. Was later reappointed to Cabinet as Work and Pensions Secretary after a review found the mistake was down to civil service failings. One small downside: she has a majority of 346 in her Hastings constituency so could well lose her seat at the next election without a bit of CCHQ musical chairs. Also a strong Remainer - which Tory members might not be too happy about.

 

PENNY MORDAUNT

Royal Navy reservist who was handed a loaded Glock pistol to protect herself during an official trip to Somalia. Caught out after going on a Twitter following frenzy of local Tory associations earlier this month, increasing suspicions that she is paving the way for a leadership bid. Demanded a free vote for MPs on the Brexit deal about 100 times before failing and deciding to stay in Cabinet anyway. Staunch Brexiteer who faced a tough childhood when her mother died of cancer and her father was diagnosed with the same illness the following year. Mordaunt worked as a magician's assistant in Portsmouth to pay her way through sixth form college. Worked briefly as head of foreign press for George W Bush's presidential campaign. Best known for: That belly flop in ITV diving competition Splash.

 

JEREMY HUNT

Distant relation of the Queen and Oswald Mosley who speaks fluent Japanese and earned a cool £14m when he sold his share of an education company in 2017. Was head boy at Charterhouse School and an Oxford contemporary of David Cameron and Boris Johnson. Hunt was a strong Remain voice during the 2016 EU referendum but has since been reborn as a Brexiteer (nothing to do with the anti-EU Tory membership, of course). Best known for: A marathon scrap with junior doctors during his six years as Health Secretary - a point Labour would no doubt ram home if he leads the Tories into an election.

 

DOMINIC RAAB 

Karate black belt Brexiteer who was said to eat the same lunch every day from Pret A Manger (chicken caesar and bacon baguette with a superfruit pot and a vitamin volcano smoothie). Former lawyer who worked to bring war criminals to justice before becoming chief of staff to then-Shadow Home Secretary David Davis. He also served in the same role for arch-Remainer Dominic Grieve when he was Shadow Justice Secretary. Very well known for: Admitting he “hadn’t quite understood” how vital the Dover-Calais border crossing was for UK trade. Middle name: Rennie.

 

MICHAEL GOVE

Leading Brexiteer who stabbed Boris Johnson in the back during the previous Tory leadership race after saying he had no desire to be PM. Refused to rule out running again on the Today programme earlier this week. Almost resigned from Cabinet over the Brexit deal, and also turned down the chance to replace Raab as Brexit Secretary. Willingness to back the PM may work against him.

 

JOHNNY MERCER 

Ex-Army man who told our sister title the House Magazine he would not vote Tory if he weren’t an MP. Best quote: "I’ll give you one chance at honesty. Did you insinuate my wife was a prostitute on the Plymouth Herald comments section?"

 

DAVID DAVIS 

Worryingly relaxed and paperless ex-Brexit Secretary who thinks the UK could leave the EU without a deal then negotiate a deal during the transition period... which would not exist without a deal.

 

GAVIN WILLIAMSON 

Ambitious Defence Secretary who appears to have eased off after some months going all-out for the PM’s job. Best line: “I made her and I can break her.”

 

ESTHER MCVEY

Work and Pensions Secretary and professional hate figure for the left. Denies having a meltdown in Cabinet over Brexit but ready to become PM if the call came.

 

TOM TUGENDHAT

Another ex-Army man who loves giving wide-ranging speeches about the state of the UK and its place in the world which are definitely, absolutely, honestly not leadership pitches.

 

PRITI PATEL

Sacked from the Cabinet after holding secret meetings with Israeli government figures during a holiday. Enjoyed one of the most closely-tracked flights of 2017.

 

JUSTINE GREENING 

Told Theresa May to shove it when the PM tried to move her out of Education and into Work and Pensions after rows over grammar schools. Announced she was in a same-sex relationship during the EU referendum by saying: "I campaigned for Stronger In but sometimes you're better off out!"

 

JAMES CLEVERLY

Straight-talking Tory deputy chairman who told our sister title the House Magazine outright last year: "I’d love to be Prime Minister."