He’s finally gone and done it.
After 59 resignation letters from Conservative party members were posted, and with probably double that amount in scandals to his name, Boris Johnson has resigned as the prime minister.
He will leave Downing Street in the autumn, with a leadership contest to be set up in the interim to appoint his successor.
Many want Boris to leave with immediate effect, but he will hang around until the leadership battle has been completed – that can usually take around two to three months.
There is little room for sentiment in politics – an ‘industry’ riddled with careerists and opportunities, and already a number of suitors have thrown their hat into the ring to take over as Tory leader and thus the position of Prime Minister.
We have detailed the main runners and riders below, although punters that enjoy long odds and outsiders might be interested in the claims of former PM Theresa May (100/1), Dickensian villain Jacob Rees-Mogg (100/1) or real-life Alan Partridge, Matt Hancock (150/1).
Ben Wallace (3/1)
The surprising favourite in the Next Prime Minister betting odds is Ben Wallace, the defence secretary and MP for Wyre and Preston North.
A former Scots Guard captain, Wallace has been a supporter of Boris throughout his tenure in Downing Street, and has served as the Secretary of State since 2019.
One of the reasons that the 52-year-old stands out is that he hasn’t been involved in any major scandals – unlike many others who are vying for the top job.
However, a YouGov poll found that he would be voted for as leader by around 13% of the Conservative party members quizzed, which doesn’t suggest he has overwhelming support in-house.
Rishi Sunak (9/2)
When Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid revealed their resignation letters just minutes apart earlier this week, it almost felt like a coordinated display of dissension.
There’s every chance that the pair will have a joint ticket in the leadership battle – probably with Sunak as potential PM and Javid restored to his former role of chancellor.
Known as ‘Dishy Rishi’ during the height of the health crisis, in which he thrust millions of pounds into the hands of the British electorate, Sunak’s star has somewhat fallen since.
His Spring Statement, given in the wake of the cost of living crisis, was panned, a staged photoshoot in a borrowed Kia Rio was outed and the non-domicile status of his wife were all hints that Rishi may not be the ‘everyman’ many thought he was.
Penny Mordaunt (5/1)
The concern for Penny Mordaunt is that she is perhaps best known for her time in Splash!, ITV’s diving competition, than she is for her politics.
That might actually be to her advantage, in some respects, in that she hasn’t become embroiled in the sleaze that has enveloped many of her colleagues.
The minister for trade policy has a varied voting record, which includes support for the privatisation of the Royal Mail and a reduction in welfare benefits but opposition to greater regulation of the gambling industry.
Tom Tugendhat (6/1)
Here’s an interesting anomaly, with Tom Tugendhat generally considered a more centrist Conservative.
He campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Union, and suggested that any Russian people with links to Vladimir Putin’s regime should be deported immediately in the wake of the conflict with Ukraine.
A slightly a-typical Tory, Tugendhat might not get the support he needs from a political party that has become increasingly right wing in recent years.
Liz Truss (10/1)
It wasn’t that long ago that Liz Truss was considered a main candidate to replace Boris in the top job.
She was the Remainer who promised to make the best of the referendum vote in her roles as minister for international trade, and as a former president of the Oxford University Liberal Democrats you get an idea for her politics straight off the bat.
And Truss became a viral video sensation when she gave an impassioned defence of British cheese back in December.