The top 10 candidates to become next PM – everything you need to know

Boris Johnson 'is not the Tory I voted for' says caller

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Wednesday’s apology for attending a party at the height of lockdown he claimed to have “implicitly” believed a work meeting has fallen on deaf ears, with political heavyweights now calling for his resignation. Prominent Conservative figures such as Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross and ERG member Andrew Bridgen are among them. At the same time, some of his closest cabinet members have seemingly faded into the background as analysts tip them as his replacement.

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak is currently a Conservative superstar, despite his relatively short time on the frontline of British politics.

Over the last week, people have noted his relative silence while other cabinet members have declared their undying support.

His only public statement declared Mr Johnson was “right to apologise”, adding he supported his “request for patience” ahead of the Sue Gray report.

As the face of the UK’s economic recovery programme, bookmakers have dubbed him Mr Johnson’s most likely successor.

Ladbrokes has assigned him odds of 7/4 to take the reins from his current boss.

Conservative members, according to a December poll of 786 from Conservative Home, have him the second favourite on 20.48 percent.

Liz Truss

Ms Truss is another cabinet member constantly in the spotlight, as she spent the last year forging trade agreements.

She has been hailed as a highly effective negotiator, with deals now active with Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Unlike Mr Sunak, she has thrown her weight behind the PM, pleading with the public to “move on” just two days after his public apology.

But like the chancellor, she is reportedly holding meetings with senior Tory MPs, although the pair deny plans to undercut his authority.

Her status has persuaded Ladbrokes she is a close second in the competition for next PM, giving her 4/1 odds.

When it comes to Conservative Home readers, however, she is a firm first, with 23.03 percent keen to see her in the drivers’ seat.

Jeremy Hunt

Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt were bitter rivals during the Tory leadership contest of 2019.

Ultimately, he lost by a significant margin, attracting fewer than half the votes of the eventual PM.

Mr Hunt has since maintained his position as a high profile backbench Conservative.

He has criticised the Government’s Covid response as chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee.

His continued activity has earned him odds of 8/1 from Ladbrokes.

Conservative Home has him in fifth place, with just 7.76 percent of Tory voters backing him.

Michael Gove

Michael Gove has held senior roles on successive Government cabinets; several under Mr Johnson.

As secretary of state for levelling up, he is responsible for implementing the Prime Minister’s centrepiece policy.

He has remained tight-lipped on the recent controversy, sticking to the Government line that the public must wait for the “ongoing enquiry” to end.

His cautious approach may have helped him, with Ladbrokes convinced he is another favourite for leader.

The bookmakers have given him odds of 11/1, a shade behind Mr Hunt.

He is nearly half as popular among Conservative members, with only 4.20 percent offering their support.

Sajid Javid

Mr Javid took over from former health secretary Matt Hancock after he resigned in 2021.

Since then, he has primarily continued his predecessor’s work without the added controversy.

He has received resistance in the House of Commons, however, with his lockdown policies receiving backlash from Tory members.

If Labour MPs had not voted for them, they would not have passed.

Nevertheless, he remains a favourite for future PM, with odds of 16/1.

He is also more popular than Michael Gove among Conservative members, 5.22 percent of whom support him.

Tom Tugendhat

Mr Johnson does not currently count Mr Tugendhat, the MP for Tonbridge and Malling, among his cabinet members.

But he is a popular Conservative and serves as chair of the foreign affairs select committee.

He is famous for his stance on China and founded the China Research Group alongside Neil O’Brien in 2020.

Despite being outside Mr Johnson’s inner circle, Ladbrokes has him on equal footing with Mr Javid.

He has assigned odds of 16/1 to become the next Conservative Party leader.

Mr Tugendhat is more popular amongst Conservative Home readers, 5.47 percent of whom voted for him in its poll.

Penny Mordaunt

Ms Mordaunt was promoted by Mr Johnson to trade policy minister during the September 2021 cabinet reshuffle.

The Portsmouth MP has shared similar popularity to Ms Truss, with her colleagues hailing her as an effective trade tsar.

They have also credited her with laying the groundwork for a post-Brexit trade deal with the US, one of the most coveted prizes for Leave campaigners.

As such, Ladbrokes has her among potential replacements for Mr Johnson should he step back.

Ms Mordaunt is seventh behind Mr Tugendhat on odds of 20/1.

But she is the third most popular option for Conservative Home readers, with her 8.91 percent of support putting her second only to Mr Sunak.

Nadhim Zahawi

Mr Zahawi has held several positions in Mr Johnson’s cabinet since 2020, most notably as vaccines minister.

He became the first-ever MP to serve in the role and has since received credit for the UK’s leading vaccine coverage.

The Prime Minister promoted him in the September 2021 reshuffle to education secretary.

He is currently fighting against Covid to keep schools open amid Covid absences.

He is a more distant favourite for future Conservative leader with odds of 25/1 from Ladbrokes.

Unfortunately, he is absent from the Conservative Home poll.

Priti Patel

Mr Johnson’s only Home Secretary so far has had a controversial few years in the role.

In 2020, a Cabinet Office inquiry found she had broken the ministerial code following allegations of bullying across her department.

Although she retains a near-constant presence in the public eye, she is not a popular potential replacement.

She shares odds with Mr Zahawi, according to Ladbrokes, on 25/1.

The MP, who is on the right of the Tory party, is similarly unpopular with Conservative Home readers.

Only 1.91 percent of the 786 people the publication polled said she was their preferred successor.

Mark Harper

Mr Harper is a longtime Tory MP, having served the Forest of Dean constituency since 2005.

He has held several senior positions during his time in office, notably as chief Tory whip after 2015.

Ultimately demoted by Theresa May, he ran unsuccessfully as her potential successor in 2019.

But he failed to persuade the 15 votes he required from his colleagues to enter the second round.

Ladbrokes has him as the 10th favourite to success Mr Johnson, assigning him odds of 28/1.

He was second to last on the Conservative Home poll, where 0.89 percent of readers voted in his favour.

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