The runners and riders for next PM to replace Liz Truss after her resignation

·6-min read
Rishi Sunak is the favourite to take over if Liz Truss is forced out - Reuters/Jamie Lorriman for The Telegraph
Rishi Sunak is the favourite to take over if Liz Truss is forced out - Reuters/Jamie Lorriman for The Telegraph

Liz Truss has announced that she is resigning as Prime Minister, saying that a leadership election will be held within the next week.

Ms Truss' decision came after Tory MP's called publicly for her to quit as discontent brewed in the party in the wake of her mini-Budget last month.

William Wragg, the vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee, said on Wednesday that he was "personally ashamed" by the mini-Budget, while Steve Double, a former environment minister, told Times Radio that Ms Truss's position is becoming "increasingly untenable".

A senior ally of Ms Truss has admitted that Tory MPs had been "circulating a smorgasbord" of names for who could replace her prior to her resignation.

Following Ms Truss' announcement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said he will not stand in the race to be Tory leader, despite him being tipped for the role in the run up to her resignation.

Here we look at the runners and riders for the next Tory leader and the latest SkyBet odds.

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak - Reuters/Phil Noble
Rishi Sunak - Reuters/Phil Noble

The former chancellor is the favourite to take over Ms Truss, after coming runner-up to her in this summer’s leadership contest.

Mr Sunak attracted more support from the parliamentary party than the Prime Minister at the start and won every voting round amongst MPs.

He warned against unfunded tax cuts and has emerged from the chaos that has followed the mini-Budget with an enhanced reputation as a result.

But his economic policies were rejected by members, and replacing Ms Truss with him may be seen as too big a snub to the party faithful.

There would also be question marks over whether the ex-chancellor could reunite the party given the brutal nature of the leadership contest.

Allies of Mr Sunak believe their man could be in No 10 within months if a sufficient mass of Tory MPs can persuade the 1922 Committee to tell Ms Truss that her time is up.

Odds: 8/13

Penny Mordaunt

Penny Mordaunt - Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images
Penny Mordaunt - Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images

The Leader of the Commons was pipped to the last two by Ms Truss during the final round of leadership voting among MPs this summer.

She was the surprise package of the early part of the contest and ran a campaign that was praised by many colleagues.

After being knocked out she threw her weight behind Ms Truss but has since taken on the Prime Minister over uprating benefits in line with inflation.

Ms Mordaunt on Sunday backed Ms Truss, saying Britain needs stability not a “soap opera”. She said the party needs to work with the Prime Minister and likened her current struggles to those faced and overcome by Winston Churchill.

Ms Mordaunt, a former defence secretary, also caused a stir at Tory conference earlier this month when she said the party’s “comms is s---”.

She is said to be “restarting her campaign” for leader, according to The Times, but some Tory MPs have said there are doubts over what she stands for.

Odds: 2/1

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson - Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Boris Johnson - Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Some Tory MPs are openly suggesting that the parliamentary party asks the former prime minister to return to Downing Street.

Mr Johnson was ousted by his own backbenchers just three months ago in a wave of anger over the partygate and Chris Pincher scandals.

But now there are those who believe, with the party 30 points behind Labour in the polls, that only he can win them the next election.

The former prime minister has remained silent since leaving No 10 and it is unclear whether he would be interested in going back.

He is hugely popular among members but remains deeply divisive with MPs and as such may not fit the bill for a unity candidate.

Odds: 18/1

Kemi Badenoch

Kemi Badenoch - Leon Neal/Getty Images
Kemi Badenoch - Leon Neal/Getty Images

The International Trade Secretary was widely seen to have significantly enhanced her burgeoning reputation with her leadership bid this summer.

She rose from relative obscurity to come fourth in the rounds of MPs voting and won plenty of admirers within the party along the way.

Ms Badenoch, known as a warrior against “woke” culture, is popular with the grassroots and topped several members’ polls during the race.

After being knocked out she remained neutral, although expressed her admiration for Ms Truss as a “maverick” who gets things done.

But she is very inexperienced, having become an MP for the first time in 2017 and only taking on her first Cabinet role this summer.

Odds: 16/1

James Cleverly

James Cleverly - Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
James Cleverly - Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Foreign Secretary was a loyal supporter of Mr Johnson and came out strongly in support of Ms Truss from the very beginning.

He briefly ran for leader in 2019 but pulled out ahead of the MPs voting stage and threw his weight behind the former prime minister instead.

A former chairman of the party, he is seen as a moderate and a safe pair of hands having held numerous ministerial posts over the years.

He has held four top jobs, including a brief stint as education secretary, but has spent a combined total of less than 18 months in Cabinet.

Mr Cleverly expressed dissatisfaction with the drawn-out nature of this summer’s leadership contest, suggesting they should be shortened in future.

Odds: 80/1

Who has ruled themselves out?

Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, ran for No 10 in 2019 and again in summer, finishing second and eighth respectively.

But allies of the Chancellor have told Sky News and the PA news agency he will not launch a third attempt.

Instead, Mr Hunt is expected to focus on the Medium-Term Fiscal Plan scheduled for October 31, which will see him unveil a range of "difficult decisions" after the majority of last month's mini-Budget was reversed.

Ben Wallace, often touted as a future prime minister, has insisted he wanted to keep his job as Defence Secretary and on Monday rebuked colleagues for "political parlour games".

"The public wants stability and security and if the government fails to deliver that then they will send us into opposition," he told the Times.

"I want to be the Secretary of State for Defence until I finish. I love the job I do and we have more to do. I want the prime minister to be the prime minister and I want to do this job."