Theresa May has been under pressure throughout Summer, mainly because of her Chequers plan. There is no doubt that the government is facing an extremely difficult September, and the likelihood of the Prime Minister surviving and passing all of the legislation is practically zero. The 2017 General Election was a disaster for the Conservative Party, and ever since the result the government have struggled to make any sufficient progress. Having lost their majority, and now the Brexit deal looking like it will fail, there is a very real possibility of a leadership challenge.
The bookies’ have obviously setup various odds for the different possible candidates. We are going to look at the odds (based from Bet365) for the Top 5 candidates most likely to succeed Theresa May as Conservative party leader.
The former foreign secretary is obviously the favourite to replace Theresa May. Boris’s claim to fame was his 8 year stint as Mayor of London. He is known for his strong and passionate views, of which has recently caused controversy over, such as the Burka Ban debate. Boris has a huge advantage over the other candidates, because he is a leading Brexiteer and the majority of Conservative members would support him.
However, although Boris is undoubtedly popular, his problem would be receiving the support of MP’s who backed remain, and who are not quite as hard-line Conservative as he is. Furthermore, there could also be further hesitation towards him because he could be unlikely to attract the “swing-voters” at the next General Election. It would be very surprising if he didn’t run in the next leadership challenge, but it would be an even greater shock if he ran in the contest and lost.
2. Sajid Javid
The new Home Secretary has already proved to be very popular among Conservative Party members and the general public. When he was appointed to the Home Office, a vast array of tweets from celebrities and other major public figures praised the appointment due to his minority background. Javid has been an MP for 8 years, so is considered relatively new to politics. He has held various ministerial roles; including Business Secretary, Media Secretary, and Communities Secretary. If he were to replace Theresa May it would certainly demonstrate the progressiveness of the Conservative Party over the last 30 years.
However, his inexperience in high ministerial office could perhaps be a downfall to his chances. Furthermore, he was a keen remainer during the referendum which would almost certainly hinder his chances. Javid is definitely a key figure in the coming years for the Conservative Party, and it will be very interesting to see just how much he will progress in politics.
3. Jacob Rees-Mogg
“Moggmentum” has certainly caught on in the last few years. The MP for North East Somerset has gone viral due to his hilarious and sophisticated speeches in parliament. Rees-Mogg was always going to support Brexit, and the members adore him due to his old-fashioned and hard-line Conservatism. If Rees-Mogg were to run it wouldn’t be difficult to see why so many MP’s would support him.
Despite his popularity within the Conservative Party, he would be considered unelectable to the wider public as he is very traditional and has strict views on being pro-abortion and anti-gay marriage. Furthermore, if Boris Johnson were to run then Rees-Mogg would certainly withdraw from the race and support him. Rees-Mogg has clearly stated on a number of occasions that he has no leadership ambition.
4. Michael Gove
This is a very surprising name to find on the Top 5 list. Michael Gove has never fully recovered from the unpopularity he gained when he stabbed long-time friend Boris Johnson MP in the back during the 2016 Conservative leadership contest. However, he again is far more popular than most people believe; he is a Brexiteer and another hard-line Conservative. Among the members this would be beneficial and he knows he always has the support of the right-wing of the Conservative Party membership.
Gove would only stand a chance of winning if there were no other Brexiteers standing in the race, and there is a tiny chance of that happening. Furthermore, Gove’s dramatic reforms whilst he was Education Secretary under Prime Minister David Cameron left him very unpopular with the unions and the wider public. Nevertheless, Gove has returned to front-line politics as Environment Secretary, so who knows what the future could bring!
5. Jeremy Hunt
Hunt is yet another surprise to find on the Top 5 list. Everyone knows Jeremy Hunt for his deeply controversial years as Health Secretary. It does not need to be said that Mr Hunt is despised by NHS workers and the working-class. However, he is the new foreign secretary and is admired by Conservative Party members as having stamina and courage for dealing with the tough times in the health role.
However, he is a staunch remainer, and would be very unlikely to ever win a General Election against a radical Labour movement. Hunt is very diplomatic, which is a positive attribute, but not needed after 8 years of the same government. Nevertheless, Hunt could produce a significant shock if he ran in the leadership contest, as he would unite the Conservative remainers, and possibly be perceived to be the “rational candidate”.