Who might succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister is in the spotlight as he prepares to step down as the leader of the Conservative Party.
Here are some of the people thought to be favorites to take over the party leadership. There will probably be a lot of candidates for the top position, many of whom will reflect the changing face of the Conservative Party, one that is more representative of the population of the country they serve.
Jeremy Hunt, the 55-year-old former foreign secretary who lost to Mr. Johnson in the most recent party leadership election, was once the betting favorite to win. He moved to the backbenches of Parliament after losing the 2019 leadership race and criticized the government’s response to the Covid pandemic while serving as the chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee. Although he claims he now supports Brexit, his past as a proponent of the EU’s continuation may hurt him with Conservative members.
A potential party leader for some time, Rishi Sunak, 42, the former chancellor of the Exchequer whose resignation on Tuesday dealt Mr. Johnson a serious blow, rose to prominence as a result of his work distributing aid to both businesses and individuals during the pandemic. However, he was politically hurt this year by debates over his wife’s tax status and revelations that he had kept his U.S. green card, which allowed him to live and work there for months after becoming Britain’s top finance official.
A rising political star, Liz Truss, 46, was chosen by Mr. Johnson to serve as foreign secretary last year. The public applauded her for pushing for sanctions against Russian oligarchs at the beginning of the war in Ukraine. It is unclear, though, whether her political future will suffer because of her loyalty to Mr. Johnson after two of his cabinet ministers resigned on Tuesday.
Another rising Conservative star, Nadhim Zahawi, was actively involved in the negotiations surrounding Boris Johnson’s departure. Hours after Mr. Sunak’s resignation, Mr. Johnson appointed him chancellor of the Exchequer; however, on Thursday morning, he disclosed that he had attempted to persuade Mr. Johnson to resign and publicly urged the prime minister to “go now.”
The 55-year-old Mr. Zahawi previously held the position of secretary of education and served as minister of immunizations at the height of the pandemic. He was born in Iraq in 1967, and when Saddam Hussein came to power in the 1970s, he and his family fled to Britain.
52-year-old Sajid Javid, the former health secretary who, along with Mr. Sunak, left on Tuesday and contributed to the wave of resignations from the government, has held a number of cabinet positions under Mr. Johnson as well as his predecessors Theresa May and David Cameron.
The parents of Mr. Javid are Pakistani immigrants who immigrated to Britain in the 1960s. When he was appointed home secretary in 2018, he made history as the first Black, Asian, or ethnic minority person to hold the position. Unlike many of his fellow Conservative lawmakers, he also came from a modest upbringing; his father was a bus driver.
Other prospective competitors
Ben Wallace, who served as the United Kingdom’s defense secretary during the Ukraine War, and Penny Mordaunt, a former defense secretary and vocal proponent of Brexit who is currently the minister for trade policy, were reportedly the Conservative Party members’ preferred candidates.
However, party members can only choose between a final pair of candidates chosen by the party’s lawmakers in a series of ballots. If Mr. Wallace and Ms. Mordaunt decided to run, it was uncertain whether they would make the final two.
Suella Braverman, the attorney general of Britain, declared on Wednesday that if Mr. Johnson were to step down, she would also “put my name into the ring.” She had previously urged him to do so, but she did not step down herself. After becoming a lawmaker five years prior, Ms. Braverman was appointed attorney general in February 2020. As an attorney, she represented the Home Office in immigration cases.