Who’s in and who’s out in the race to become the next occupant of 10 Downing Street – and is there a frontrunner now that Ben Wallace has pulled out?

The jockeying began even before Boris Johnson announced his resignation and since then his former employees have been busy announcing their intentions to stand on social media and in broadsheet newspapers.

Who has said they are running?

Former chancellor Rishi Sunak was the first big name to enter the race and will be seen as one of the favourites though the race is wide open with a crowded and growing field of candidates.

Until the past few months, Mr Sunak was seen by many Tory MPs as the frontrunner to succeed Mr Johnson.

But after introducing a number of policies – such as a national insurance rise – which went down badly with Tory MPs, his popularity has taken a knock.

He was also fined for attending the PM’s birthday party during lockdown, compromising his ability to separate himself from partygate.

The revelation that his wife, the multimillionaire Akshata Murty, held non-dom status and therefore did not have to pay UK tax on her sizeable international income also damaged his standing.

After the uproar that a minister’s wife was not paying UK taxes on that income, she confirmed she would do so as it had “become clear that many do not feel it is compatible with my husband’s role as chancellor”.

Mr Sunak had been in Number 11 since early 2020, being elevated straight from a junior ministerial post to one of the most powerful cabinet positions after Sajid Javid’s surprise resignation.

Within a matter of weeks, COVID struck and the former chancellor assumed a prominent role in the government’s pandemic response, announcing a raft of measures to support workers and businesses.

Mr Sunak was elected in 2015, succeeding former Tory leader Lord Hague in the seat of Richmond in North Yorkshire.

He backed Brexit in 2016, telling his constituents at the time that it was the “toughest decision” of his political career.

What are his policies?

Declaring he was throwing his hat into the ring a day after Mr Johnson’s resignation, Mr Sunak launched his bid in a glossy video on social media with a pledge to rebuild voters’ trust after the previous tumultuous premiership.

In sharp contrast to other candidates, he is sticking to his guns in resisting tax cuts, arguing it would fuel rising prices and warning against telling voters “comforting fairy tales”.

On social issues, Mr Sunak told the Mail On Sunday he would reverse “recent trends to erase women via the use of clumsy, gender-neutral language” and said that “we must be able to call a mother a mother and talk about breastfeeding”.

Tom Tugendhat

Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, was the first to enter the fray after Mr Johnson left office.

A former soldier who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr Tugendhat grew up in London and Sellindge, near Ashford, Kent.

He studied Theology at Bristol University and then went on to get a Masters’ in Islamics at Cambridge before travelling to Beirut to work as a journalist.

What are his policies?

Although lacking in ministerial experience, he has pointed to his service on the military frontline and stressed he was the “clean start” candidate.

He pointed out he did not back the controversial increase in national insurance and had “always been a low tax Conservative”.

While signalling his support for a reduction in corporation tax – a levy on business profits – Mr Tugendhat has insisted any measures would have to be part of a 10-year economic plan.

He and his fellow contender Jeremy Hunt come from the so-called One Nation wing of the party, so there will be pressure on him to get behind Mr Hunt to avoid splitting the vote.

Mr Tugendhat supported the campaign to remain in the EU but voted loyally on Brexit matters under both Theresa May and Mr Johnson.

As part of his campaign, he has also stated his intention to deliver the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which Brussels argues breaks international law.

Grant Shapps

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps used his leadership pitch to take a swipe at his rivals, saying he had not spent the last few years “plotting or briefing against the prime minister” or mobilising a leadership campaign but had his “head was down” in his department.

The MP for Welwyn Hatfield since 2005 went to a grammar school and then Manchester Polytechnic. In 1989, at the age of 21, he had a car crash in Kansas, which resulted in him being in a coma.

He was a photocopier sales rep before founding a publishing business with his wife while he recovered from cancer.

Mr Shapps has ended up in hot water over the years for allegedly using pseudonyms and having a second job while he was an MP, which he denied and then eventually admitted in 2015.

He was a favourite of David Cameron, who made him housing secretary and Conservative Party chairman.

But he stepped down from his post in 2015 over allegations of bullying within the party – which he was not involved in – and had a few years on the backbenches under Mrs May.

Mr Johnson rewarded him for supporting his leadership bid, despite being a Remainer, by making him transport secretary.

He is one of the most recognisable senior Tories, appearing for the government in many morning media rounds and starring in official videos promoting various transport initiatives.

What are his policies?

In his appeal to the party, Mr Shapps has been advocating for lower taxes and cutting “red tape”.

He said he would introduce an immediate 1p cut to the basic income tax rate of 20p and “freeze” the proposed increase in corporation tax.

Tackling the cost-of-living crisis and strengthening the economy to become the biggest in Europe are also top of his agenda.

Penny Mordaunt

Penny Mordaunt, who was sacked as defence secretary when Mr Johnson came to power, was the ninth candidate to enter the fray.

Having kept a relatively low profile since returning to government as an international trade minister, she is nonetheless seen as ambitious and is popular with Tory MPs.

She played a prominent role in the Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum and has previously reportedly enjoyed the backing of Dame Andrea Leadsom among others

Conservative MP Michael Fabricant has described her as “socially liberal”.

What are her policies?

Stressing the need for change in the wake of the recent chaos, the MP for Portsmouth North and Royal Navy reservist argued the party needed “to become a little less about the leader and a lot more about the ship”.

She cited “freedom, fairness, courage and compassion” as the values of the UK.

Ms Mordaunt, who is seen by some as a possible dark horse in the leadership contest, has said she was “shocked at the stupidity of what has taken place” in Downing Street over partygate.

Nadhim Zahawi

Nadhim Zahawi, the newly appointed chancellor, owes his profile to his role as vaccines minister, where he oversaw the nationwide rollout of COVID jabs.

Born in Iraq to a Kurdish family, Mr Zahawi came to the UK as a nine-year-old when his parents fled from Saddam Hussein.

Believed to be one of the richest politicians in the House of Commons, he helped found the polling company YouGov after studying chemical engineering at university.

Seen as a “safe pair of hands”, he was subsequently promoted to education secretary following the sacking of Gavin Williamson.

He replaced Mr Sunak as chancellor after the ministerial exodus that ended Mr Johnson’s leadership.

Mr Zahawi is seen as a strong communicator and as someone relatively untarnished compared to some other cabinet ministers.

What are his policies?

He has pledged lower taxes, arguing the burden is “too high”, as well as a “great education” for all.

He spoke of being aware that security, safety and freedom are “things that we can never take for granted”, and argued defence spending “needs to rise”.

On the Northern Ireland Protocol, Mr Zahawi has spoken in the past of keeping all the options “on the table”, pledging to work with Sinn Fein and the European Commission.

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt, the chair of the health and social care select committee, has also announced he intends to run.

He has argued his long cabinet experience has taught him the importance of trust in politics and only promising things that can be delivered.

It is his second leadership contest having unsuccessfully challenged Mr Johnson in the head-to-head runoff in 2019.

His backers believe his strength as a candidate would come from not being tainted by being part of Mr Johnson’s cabinet.

What are his policies?

The former health secretary has committed to reducing corporation tax from 15% to create a “pro-enterprise environment” and get the economy “moving”.

He told of his intention to slash the 19p rate to 15p in his first autumn Budget.

Mr Hunt also intends to remove business rates for five years for the communities most in need, he told The Sunday Telegraph.

But he has rejected reversing the hike in national insurance arguing the NHS needed the £12bn a year the increase would generate.

Mr Hunt has also spoken of embracing “Brexit freedoms”, promising to back the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.

On the Rwanda migration policy, he told of his intention to expand the scheme by finding additional countries to deport people to.

On HS2, he said he would “keep that going”.

Sajid Javid

Sajid Javid is also among the candidates vying to be the next Tory leader.

His resignation as health secretary kicked off the avalanche of departures that forced Mr Johnson out.

He previously served as chancellor, home secretary, housing secretary, business secretary and culture secretary.

State school-educated, he is the son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver who came to England in the 1960s.

Brought up above a shop in Bristol, he went on to become an investment banker before entering politics.

Mr Javid made it to the final four in the contest to replace Mrs May as Tory leader in 2019, but dropped out and subsequently endorsed Mr Johnson.

What are his policies?

Setting out his leadership stall, Mr Javid promised to cut corporation tax and said the UK should consider ripping up old EU laws “to make us a more pro-business, wealth-creating, entrepreneurial economy”.

He also plans to scrap the government’s national insurance hike, bringing forward the planned 1p income tax cut to next year, and introduce a further “significant” temporary reduction on fuel duty.

He said his tax-cutting plans would cost around £39bn a year, but this did not include slashing fuel duty further in the short term.

Warning against unfunded reductions, he said he would produce a “scorecard” to show how they would be paid for in “a sustainable way”.

He added that he plans to introduce a new package of support worth up to £5bn to help with energy bills as well.

Mr Javid believed in the current financial situation the country could afford to scrap the national insurance hike and still fund the promised boost for the NHS and social care.

He has also said that as Tory leader he would keep to the commitment to get to net-zero by 2050 and would not scrap the BBC licence fee.

On the Rwanda migrant policy, Mr Javid has said he agrees with it.

And he said he would not rule out another Scottish independence referendum “forever”, but would not have one for “at least for a decade”.

Kemi Badenoch - Conservative MP

Former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch is also among the Tory MPs to declare their intention to run for prime minister.

What are her policies?

She has promised to cut the size of the state and lead a “limited government focused on essentials”.

The MP for Saffron Walden said she supported lower taxes “to boost growth and productivity, and accompanied by tight spending discipline”.

She has also hit out at “identity politics” and said Mr Johnson was “a symptom of the problems we face, not the cause of them”.

Suella Braverman

Attorney General Suella Braverman confirmed she would be running after she announced her decision to do so even before the prime minister resigned.

The Brexiteer, who was first elected as an MP in 2015, has said she owes a “debt of gratitude” to the country and would be honoured to serve as prime minister.

She has the backing of Brexit die-hard and former minister Steve Baker, who had previously been considering his own bid.

What are her policies?

She has promised “rapid and large tax cuts” to ease inflation and “move heaven and earth to get this country back on track”.

Ms Braverman also argued the energy crisis meant the target of reaching net zero by 2050 should be shelved.

On the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, she said there must be “no backsliding” as it goes through parliament.

On a campaign video, she spoke of delivering “all of the great opportunities” of Brexit, as well as taking a “firm line” on migration.

In a post on Twitter, Ms Braverman said the UK “must leave” the jurisdiction of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Liz Truss

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has long been touted as a potential successor to Boris Johnson and has been shown to be popular among Conservative Party members in surveys.

She appears to have been laying the groundwork for a tilt at the top job through her social media output.

Ms Truss has been an MP since 2010 and began rising up the ministerial ladder soon after entering parliament.

She is the longest continuously serving member of the cabinet, having held positions under David Cameron, Theresa May and Mr Johnson.

What are her policies?

She has told The Daily Telegraph she would “start cutting taxes from day one” if she was to become prime minister.

She added: “It isn’t right to be putting up taxes now.

“I would reverse the National Insurance increase that came in during April, make sure we keep corporation tax competitive so we can attract business and investment into Britain, and put the COVID debt on a longer-term footing.

“I will get the private sector growing faster than the public sector, with a long-term plan to bring down the size of the state and the tax burden.”

Talking about the economy, Ms Truss said she aims to ensure “spades are going into the ground, people are in jobs and more money is going to local areas”.

Ms Truss has also pledged to “take the vital steps necessary” to protect the Good Friday Agreement, “solve the serious problems the protocol is causing” and has vowed to “deliver on the vast opportunities” that Brexit presents.

Rehman Chishti

Rehman Chishti is a minister at the Foreign Office and the MP for Gillingham and Rainham.

Prior to becoming an MP in 2010, a position he has continuously held ever since, he worked as a lawyer after studying at the University of Wales Aberystwyth.

He has also completed 12 half marathons, according to his website.

What are his policies?

In a tweet, he said: “For me, it’s about aspirational conservatism, fresh ideas, fresh team for a fresh start taking our great country forward.”

He has also spoken of the importance of lower taxes and having a small state with a big society and told of his desire to protect the mental wellbeing of people in the nation.

The bookies’ favourite pulls out

Ben Wallace is the current defence secretary

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace initially had the best odds to succeed as Tory leader and prime minister, having risen up the party’s popularity rankings in recent months.

However, in an announcement two days after Mr Johnson’s resignation, he ruled himself out.

In a statement posted on social media, Mr Wallace wrote: “It has not been an easy choice to make, but my focus is on my current job and keeping this great country safe.

“I wish the very best of luck to all candidates and hope we swiftly return to focusing on the issues that we are all elected to address.”

Who is yet to declare?

Priti Patel

For some time, Priti Patel was seen as the darling of the Conservative grassroots, with a proud right-wing stance on immigration and public spending.

She was a major backer of Mr Johnson’s leadership bid in 2019 and was rewarded by being appointed home secretary.

But since taking on that role her star appears to have faded, with her handling of the small boat crossings in the Channel a source of significant criticism.

Her popularity among the right wing of the parliamentary party means her candidacy should not be written off, but questions over her handling of the Channel migrant crisis are likely to have dented her chances.

However, a report published in November 2020 by the prime minister’s adviser on ministerial standards at the time, Sir Alex Allan, had found the home secretary had breached the ministerial code with behaviour that amounted to bullying.

Mr Johnson overruled, saying the code hadn’t been broken and she could keep her job.

Ms Patel issued an “unreserved apology to anybody who has been upset by anything that has taken place”.


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