Who is the most likely person to beat Theresa May in a leadership election?

The candidates tipped to take over from Theresa May (Getty Images)

The prospect of a Conservative Leadership election are continuing to swirl following a bruising week for Theresa May, which saw the draft Brexit deal she agreed with the EU almost universally panned.

25 Tory MPs have now publicly said they have written letters demanding a vote of no confidence in the PM, who today defended her deal to a conference of business leaders.

There is wide speculation a considerable number of letters have been submitted anonymously.

A no-confidence vote is triggered when 48 letters are submitted to Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee. Many are predicting the threshold will be reached this week.

However there is no clear frontrunner to take over from Mrs May, leaving a strong possibility she could win a confidence vote. If this happens another leadership election cannot take place within the next 12 months.

Theresa May could face a leadership challenge this week (PA Images)

If she loses and an election is triggered, any MP who wishes to run as candidate needs the support of two fellow MPs in order to get onto the ballot paper.

Tory MPs then vote using the first past the post system. If more than three candidates have been nominated, the one with the lowest proportion of votes is eliminated and another ballot is held. This process continues until two candidates remain.

Conservative Party members then vote for the two nominees, and the winner becomes the new leader.

These are the candidates tipped to take over – and their realistic chances of doing so.

Dominic Raab

The former Brexit Secretary, who resigned last week in protest against Theresa May’s Brexit deal, is currently the bookies’ favourite to beat the PM in a leadership election, with odds hovering around 7/1 from the major betting companies.

His decision to quit over the deal, which is hated by hard Brexiteers, could win him support from the  faction who wish to install a Eurosceptic to renegotiate a Brexit deal with the EU.

However he is also viewed by many as shrugging off responsibility for a Brexit deal he himself was tasked with negotiating. This failure as a minister is seen to suggest unsuitability for high office.

These are the odds on the next Tory leader offered by the major UK betting sites (Oddschecker)

Sajid Javid

The Home Secretary is second in line with bookmakers to take the Tory party top job, with odds offered ranging from 11/2 – 8/1.

He has won support across the board for his performance in his current role, condemning the hostile environment policy and helping to force a U-turn from the Government over visas for highly-skilled migrants.

Javid may have damaged his standing with Brexiteers by campaigning for Remain during the EU referendum campaign, but has since about-turned to become an ardent Brexit supporter.

Boris Johnson

The former foreign secretary quit the government in July over Theresa May’s handling of Brexit, and has been a regular and vocal critic of her approach ever since, leading the Brexiteer calls to ‘chuck Chequers’.

The bookies have him snapping at the heels of Javid and Raab, with odds as short as 6/1 to take over.

According to a poll by grassroots organisation ConservativeHome, Mr Johnson is the favourite among party members to take the helm.

However he is an unpopular figure among Tory MPs, and his stint in the Foreign Office was seen as unsuccessful, and even disastrous, by his colleagues. It’s unlikely he could secure enough support from Tory MPs – though not impossible.

Michael Gove

Michael Gove is clearly keen for the top job, running against Mrs May in the last leadership race.

The odds for him as the next leader range between 6/1 and 9/1.

He is popular among Eurosceptics and has voiced cautious criticism of the Prime Minister’s Brexit stance.

His stint as Environment Secretary has won him public favour, and his war on plastics has proved popular with voters.

However Mr Gove is considered to have stabbed Boris Johnson in the back during the last leadership election, pulling support for his colleague in order to launch his own bid. The memory of this means a number of MPs still consider him untrustworthy.

Jeremy Hunt

A former Remainer turned Brexit cheerleader, Jeremy Hunt is seen as a safe pair of hands among an assortment of loose cannon colleagues.

However he irked Remainers – and the EU – recently by comparing the European Union to to the Soviet Union in a move that damaged his reliable reputation.

He has publicly backed Theresa May a number of times, pledging her his ‘full support’, but could still throw his hat into the ring in the event of an election.

Betting companies put him between 7/1 and 12/1 to take over.

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees-Mogg has insisted numerous times that he is not interested in leading his party. But the committed Brexiteer has a solid base of EU-loathing fans who would like him to do so.

The backbencher has never held a ministerial post, and is realistically too divisive to stand much chance of making it onto the ballot paper.

However bookies are offering odds as short as 11/2 for hi to win a leadership race.

What about the PM herself?

There is no single candidate who enjoys support across the unite the warring Tory party, meaning that the likely winner of a no confidence vote will be Mrs May herself.

If more than half her party backs her she can stay in position, and cannot be challenged again for another year.

Anyone else?

Another former Brexit Secretary David Davis is understood to still have his eyes on the hot seat after a failed leadership bid in 2005.

Penny Mourdant, another Brexiteer, could be in with a chance. However she wavered over whether or not to resign over Theresa May’s Brexit deal, and her decision not to do so could mar her popularity with hard Brexit supporters.

Andrea Leadsom, who stood against Mrs May last time around, also has a shot. She is thought to be the ringleader of the cabinet ministers attempting to alter the PM’s Brexit strategy from the inside.

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