Even before Liz Truss resigned, five names were floated as potential successors. Economic policies that had to be reversed, a series of resignations by ministers and aides, and then the Conservative Party’s loss of faith in her all contributed to the announcement.
What may surprise some is that Boris Johnson, her scandal-plagued predecessor, is among the candidates.
According to prominent UK news outlets such as the Times, Daily Telegraph, and the BBC, he is in the running. According to the Times report, Boris Johnson believes his return to 10 Downing Street is in the “national interest.”
But he’s far from the frontrunner. That, predictably, is Rishi Sunak.
Former finance minister Sunak, the bookies’ favourite, had recently lost the race to Liz Truss.
Following him are Penny Mordaunt, defence minister Ben Wallace, and Jeremy Hunt, the current finance minister. Mr. Hunt has stated that he will not run, putting former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in fourth place on the list of favourites.
The Conservatives still have power until December 2024, assuming they can find a Prime Minister who can last that long. Liz Truss will remain in the chair until the party elects a new leader next week.
Who are the likely contenders?
Rishi Sunak was appointed Chancellor of the UK Exchequer (finance minister) just before the Covid pandemic began in early 2020.
But his wealth made people, even within the party, question whether he understood the common people’s economic situation of heating or eating.
The millionaire is married to Akshaya Murty, the daughter of Indian-origin parents who immigrated to the UK from Africa decades ago. Her father, NR Narayana Murthy, founded Infosys.
His alleged tax evasion via loopholes has also been called into question. After serving as an MP since 2015, the 42-year-old resigned in July, just before Boris Johnson, whose tenure was marred by scandals.
In his resignation letter, Rishi Sunak stated that government should be “conducted properly, competently, and seriously.”
“I recognise that this may be my final ministerial position,” he wrote, “but I believe these standards are worth fighting for, which is why I am resigning.” He then competed for and lost the top job to Liz Truss.
Penny Mordaunt, the current Leader of the House of Commons, finished third in the Tory party leadership election, trailing Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.
She had backed Liz Truss after dropping out of the race. As Liz Truss’s star faded, Penny Mordaunt wrote in a newspaper column, “Britain needs stability, not a soap opera.”
The 49-year-old former reality TV star is now the only woman in the race.
According to the BBC, she is “the Brexiteer who is popular with the grassroots.” She was a vocal supporter of Britain’s exit from the European Union in a 2016 referendum.
Boris Johnson, the ever-colourful and often-scandalous former Mayor of London, served as Prime Minister for more than three years but was forced to resign after reports of parties at his official residence during the Covid lockdown surfaced.
He has been a senior Tory for over two decades, and his support for Brexit is seen as his big moment of political propulsion.