The most likely candidates to replace Theresa May

Joe Sommerlad@JoeSommerlad
Friday 24 May 2019 09:15
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Theresa May has announced she will step down as leader of the Conservative Party on June 7th, in an emotional speech delivered outside Number 10 on Friday morning.

In an emotional statement outside of Downing Street the Prime Minister said:

“Our politics may be under strain but there is so much that is good about this country. So much to be proud of. So much to be optimistic about.”

Adding that it has been the honour of her life to be the “second female prime minister, but certainly not the last.” May's voice was heard to crack as she left the address to re-enter Downing Street saying that it had been an honour to serve the country that she loves.

The prime minister told a private meeting of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers on Wednesday that she would not be spearheading negotiations with the EU on a long-term trade deal, which could begin immediately if a withdrawal agreement is approved by the House of Commons.

At present, the ongoing state of turmoil means that the Conservative party will begin the process to select a new leader next week.

This will see MPs faced with having to slim down the list of challengers to two, who will then be voted on by the party's 120,000 members.

As many as 20 senior Tories have been tipped to throw their top hats into the ring.

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, health secretary Matt Hancock and David Lidington have all been mentioned among Westminster gossips but, according to the bookies, the top five most likely candidates are the following.

The favourite: Boris Johnson

The former foreign secretary, mayor of London and tussle-haired, off-brand PG Wodehouse character, 54, resigned from the Cabinet over May's Chequers plan last July but has made little secret of his ambitions.

A divisive figure at the best of times, the candidacy of this philandering chancer could spark a heated "Stop Boris" campaign among the naysayers should he reach the final two.

Odds: Ladbrokes 5/4

The Machiavellian: Michael Gove

The environment secretary, 51, who continues to resemble a ventriloquist's dummy from the 1950s, lead the victorious Vote Leave campaign in 2016 along with Boris Johnson.

He was sacked as education secretary by Theresa May but made a surprisingly successful comeback when he rejoined the Cabinet in 2017.

Odds: Ladbrokes 12/1

The dark horse: Dominic Raab

Raab, 44, was once the chief of staff to Brexit secretary David Davis, before succeeding his old boss and then succumbing to precisely the same fate.

He proved more effective as a campaigner for Leave in 2016 than did in his dealings with Brussels, complaining the PM did not keep him in the loop during negotiations.

Raab has recently been the subject of much satire after LBC radio host James O'Brien circulated a video of his contradictory statements about Brexit, prompting him to block O'Brien and the video to get even more traction.

Odds: Ladbrokes 4/1

The reborn Brexiteer: Jeremy Hunt

The long-serving health secretary, 52, briefly backed a second referendum to give the public a "final say" on Brexit but has now dropped the idea and is even in favour of a no-deal outcome.

He's apparently known as "Teflon Jeremy" because so little of the criticism he receives sticks. And there's plenty.

Odds: Ladbrokes 10/1

The falling star: Sajid Javid

The ambitious Javid, 48, was once considered a rising star of the party thanks to his impressive backstory: he is the son of a Pakistani bus conductor who arrived in Britain with just £1 in his pocket but rose to become a wealthy banker.

His quick ascent to home secretary has seen his reputation fall away somewhat, his handling of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel and decision to strip "Isis bride" Shamima Begum of her UK citizenship winning few admirers.

He voted to Remain in Europe at the 2016 referendum against his instincts as a Eurosceptic (under pressure from David Cameron and George Osborne) but has since become a zealous convert to Brexit.

Odds: Betfair 12/1, Ladbrokes 12/1, William Hill 9/1, Sky Bet 9/1.

More: Theresa May's possible replacements are in and people are not impressed

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