Who could replace Boris Johnson as Britain’s prime minister? Below is a summary of those who have announced they want the job and others who could be in the frame. The race follows Johnson’s announcement on Thursday he was resigning, bowing to calls from ministerial colleagues and lawmakers in his Conservative Party. There is no clear favourite and the candidates are not listed in order of likely prospects. The rules of the contest will be announced next week.
Confirmed in the contest for Britian’s next PM
1. Kemi Badenoch: Elected to parliament for the first time in 2017, Badenoch has held junior ministerial jobs, including most recently minister for equalities, but has never served in cabinet. A former Conservative member of the London Assembly, she has also served as vice-chair of the Conservative Party. She supported Brexit in 2016.
2. Suella Braverman: As attorney general, Braverman was heavily criticised by lawyers after the government sought to break international law over post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland. She campaigned to leave the EU and served as a junior minister in the Brexit department under Theresa May, but resigned in protest at the then prime minister`s proposed Brexit deal, saying it did not go far enough in breaking ties with the bloc.
3. Jeremy Hunt: The former foreign secretary, 55, finished second to Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest. He would offer a more serious and less controversial style of leadership after the turmoil of Johnson`s premiership. Over the last two years, Hunt has used his experience as a former health secretary to chair parliament`s health select committee and has not been tarnished by having served in the current government.
Hunt said he voted to oust Johnson in a confidence vote last month that the prime minister narrowly won. Hunt supported remaining in the EU ahead of the 2016 vote. It is unclear whether he would feel the need to maintain a tough line against Brussels, to win the support of Conservative voters, or whether he could pursue a more pragmatic relationship to improve post-Brexit trade.
4. Sajid David: Javid was the first cabinet minister to resign in protest over accusations that Johnson misled the public over what he knew about sexual harassment allegations against a Conservative lawmaker. A former banker and a champion of free markets, Javid has served in a number of cabinet roles, most recently as health minister. He resigned as Johnson`s finance minister in 2020.
The son of Pakistani Muslim immigrant parents, he is a Thatcher admirer and finished fourth in the 2019 leadership contest to replace former Prime Minister Theresa May.
Javid supported remaining in the EU “with a heavy heart and no enthusiasm”, saying he feared the fallout from a leave vote would add to economic turbulence.
5. Grant Shapps: First elected to parliament in 2005, Shapps has served as Secretary of State for Transport since Johnson took office in 2019. He previously held junior ministerial roles and was co-chair of the Conservative Party. He has been a loyal defender of Johnson, often sent out to appear in the media on behalf of the government.
Launching his candidacy in the Sunday Times newspaper, he said his goal was to address the cost-of-living crisis and he would plan to hold an emergency budget in his first 100 days of office to cut taxes for the most vulnerable and give state support to firms with high levels of energy consumption.
Shapps supported remaining in the EU ahead of the 2016 referendum.
6. Rishi Sunak: Sunak announced his leadership bid on Friday with a campaign video in which he promised to confront the difficult economic backdrop with “honesty, seriousness and determination”, rather than piling the burden on future generations.
“Someone has to grip this moment and make the right decisions,” he said. Sunak was made finance minister in early 2020 and was praised for a COVID-19 economic rescue package, including a costly jobs retention programme that averted mass unemployment.
But he later faced criticism for not giving enough cost-of-living support to households. Revelations this year about his wealthy wife`s non-domiciled tax status, and a fine he received for breaking COVID lockdown rules, have damaged his standing.
His tax-and-spend budget last year put Britain on course for its biggest tax burden since the 1950s, undermining his claims to favour lower taxes.
Sunak voted to leave the EU in 2016.
7. Tom Tugendhat: The chair of parliament`s foreign affairs committee, and a former soldier who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He has been a regular critic of Johnson and would offer his party a clean break with previous governments. However, he is relatively untested because he has never served in cabinet. He voted to remain in the EU.
8. Nadhim Zahawi: The newly appointed finance minister impressed as vaccines minister when Britain had one of the world`s fastest rollouts of COVID shots. Zahawi`s personal story as a former refugee from Iraq who came to Britain as a child sets him apart from other contenders.
He co-founded polling company YouGov before entering parliament in 2010. His last job was as education secretary. He supported leaving the EU.
Other Possible Candidates
Penny Mordaunt: The former defence secretary was sacked by Johnson when he became prime minister after she endorsed his rival, Hunt, during the last leadership contest. Mordaunt was a passionate supporter of leaving the European Union and made national headlines by taking part in a now-defunct reality TV diving show. Currently a junior trade minister, Mordaunt called the COVID lockdown-breaking parties in government “shameful”. She had previously expressed loyalty to Johnson.
Liz Truss: The foreign secretary has been the darling of the Conservative Party`s grassroots and has regularly topped polls of party members carried out by the website Conservative Home. Truss has a carefully cultivated public image and was photographed in a tank last year, echoing a famous 1986 photo of Britain`s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.
Truss, 46, initially campaigned against Brexit but after the 2016 referendum said she had changed her mind. She spent the first two years of Johnson`s premiership as international trade secretary and was last year appointed as Britain`s lead negotiator with the European Union. Truss is now in charge of dealing with the EU over post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, where she has taken an increasingly tough line in negotiations. On Tuesday she said Johnson had her “100% backing” and urged colleagues to support him. On Thursday after the prime minister bowed to growing pressure, she said Johnson had made the right decision to step down.