Tory leadership race: The runners and riders and where they stand on Brexit

The race for the Conservative leadership is heating up as prominent Tories vie for the top job following Theresa May’s resignation announcement.

Several prominent Tories have thrown their hats into the ring, with Michael Gove becoming the latest to enter the race, confirming his plans on Sunday morning.

He joins an already-crowded field that includes Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and ex-Cabinet ministers Dominic Raab and Andrea Leadsom.

So who are the main runners and riders in the Tory leadership race and where do they stand on Brexit?

Boris Johnson

April 1, 2019 - UK Lawmakers Vote On Brexit Options - March 19, 2019 - Brexit Plans Remain in Disarray - January 21, 2019 - Brexit Stalemate Continues - File Photo by: zz/Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx 2017 3/23/17 Boris Johnson - Former Mayor of London and current Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of The United Kingdom - speaks at United Nations Headquarters during a meeting of The UN Security Council. (NYC)
Boris Johnson is seen by many as the favourite to take the reins of the party (Picture: AP)

The former foreign secretary and London mayor is considered by most as the favourite to win the leadership race, with bookies Ladbrokes putting his odds at 11/10.

The 54-year-old nearly beat Theresa May to the top job in 2016 but his chances were scuppered by fellow Leave campaigner Michael Gove.

In a speech in Switzerland on Friday, Mr Johnson - who quit the Cabinet alongside David Davis in July last year - was deemed to have vowed to take Britain out of the EU on October 31, "deal or no deal", if he is made PM.

Michael Gove

Britain's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove arrives in Downing Street, London, Monday April 8, 2019. Britain's government and opposition were clinging to hope Monday of finding a compromise Brexit deal, 48 hours before Prime Minister Theresa May must try to persuade European Union leaders to grant a delay to the U.K.'s departure from the bloc. (Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)
Michael Gove was set to announce he plans to stand as Tory leader on Sunday. (Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)

Environment Secretary Michael Gove confirmed on Sunday that he would join the Tory leadership race.

His announcement might bring a bit of deja vu to fellow Conservatives after he and Boris Johnson went head to head in the 2016 leadership contest.

Mr Gove has spoken out in defence of Theresa May’s Brexit deal in the Commons.

Dominic Raab

Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Dominic Raab arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has announced formally that he will stand as leader (Picture: AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

The former Brexit secretary formally entered the Tory leadership race over the weekend with a call for a "new direction".

The 44-year-old told the Mail on Sunday he would prefer to leave the EU with a deal, but said the UK must "calmly demonstrate unflinching resolve to leave in October - at the latest".

Mr Raab was a prominent Brexiteer in the referendum campaign and Mrs May appointed him as her second Brexit secretary in July but he quit in November, saying he could not support her eventual deal.

Jeremy Hunt

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday, March 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday, March 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Jeremy Hunt, who became Foreign Secretary after Boris Johnson quit, campaigned for Remain in the 2016 referendum and would be a moderate candidate on Brexit in the leadership election.

The former Health Secretary has claimed his business background would help resolve Brexit, telling the Sunday Times: "If I was prime minister, I'd be the first prime minister in living memory who has been an entrepreneur by background.

"Doing deals is my bread and butter as someone who has set up their own business."

Rory Stewart

Prisons minister Rory Stewart speak to the media on College Green in Westminster, London.
Rory Stewart has also launched a leadership bid (Picture: PA)

International Development Secretary Rory Stewart launched his leadership bid in an interview with The Spectator last month and has been scathing of Boris Johnson’s stance on Brexit.

He said a no-deal Brexit would be "a huge mistake, damaging, unnecessary, and I think also dishonest".

The 46-year-old MP for Penrith and The Border also appeared to make another dig at the former Foreign Secretary, tweeting: "The star name will not always be the best choice. There may be times when Jiminy Cricket would make a better leader than Pinocchio."

Esther McVey

Esther McVey headshot, as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, graphic element on gray
Esther McVey said the UK should be prepared to leave the EU without a deal (Picture: Getty)

Former work and pensions secretary Ester McVey announced her leadership bid as she hosted an LBC call-in on Friday.

The former television presenter-turned-MP for Tatton, who quit Mrs May's Cabinet in November in protest at her Brexit plan, told listeners that the UK should be prepared to leave the EU without a deal.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the 51-year-old said: "This country needs a genuinely bold, new approach. So we must now leave the EU on October 31 with a clean break.

"It's time to recapture that optimism which brought about the referendum result, provide the country with a clear direction and deliver the clean Brexit people voted for," she added.

Matt Hancock

Britain's Health Secretary Matt Hancock arrives for a cabinet meeting in 10 Downing Street, London, Tuesday, April 2, 2019. British Prime Minister Theresa May is set for a marathon session with her Cabinet as the government tries to find a way out of the Brexit crisis, after lawmakers again rejected all alternatives to her European Union withdrawal agreement. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also joined the race. (Picture: AP/Matt Dunham)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock threw hit hat into the ring on Saturday, saying the party needed to look to the future and attract younger voters.

He said he would take a different approach to try to get Commons support for a Brexit deal than the one Theresa May used.

He told the BBC that a no-deal Brexit "simply won't be allowed by Parliament".

Andrea Leadsom

FILE - In this Tuesday, March 19, 2019 file photo, Britain's Andrea Leadsom the Leader of the House of Commons leaves a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London. Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement that she will leave 10 Downing Street has set off a fierce competition to succeed her as Conservative Party leader _ and as the next prime minister.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
Andrea Leadsom said if she is elected PM, the UK would quit the EU in October with or without a deal (Picture: AP/Matt Dunham, File)

Former leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom formally entered the race over the weekend, telling the Sunday Times that if she is elected PM the UK would quit the EU in October with or without a deal.

The MP for South Northamptonshire, 56, said she would introduce a citizens' rights Bill to resolve uncertainty facing EU nationals, then seek agreement in other areas where consensus already exists, such as on reciprocal healthcare and Gibraltar.

Others considering bids

Other figures believed to be considering bids include:-

  • Sir Graham Brady, who quit as the leader of the 1922 Committee on Friday in order to consider a leadership bid.

  • Penny Mordaunt, the UK's first female Defence Secretary, has been named by Jacob Rees-Mogg as one of his favoured candidates.

  • Sajid Javid signalled his leadership ambitions by arguing that he wanted the Tories to be the party of social mobility in an interview with The Spectator.

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