It was the worst kept secret in UK politics, a ‘will she, won’t she’ saga akin to a footballer being rumoured to join a new club in the summer.
Theresa May has resigned. The former Prime Minister of the UK has called time on her reign at 10 Downing Street after an insurmountable couple of years in which she has overseen Brexit bungling and dismal results for the Conservative in the local and European elections. She will officially resign on June 7, and has agreed to stay on as PM until the Tory leadership battle is over.
Like a football club seeking a new manager, the hunt for a successor begins in earnest.
Boris Johnson, Esther McVey and Rory Stewart have all said they intend to run for PM, and no doubt countless others will also throw their hat into the ring. Perhaps Andrea Leadsom, who resigned on Wednesday, will be one of them?
The new Prime Minister will not enjoy a steady start to their new job; this won’t your classic shadowing of your predecessor! They will have to come up with a revised version of the Brexit Withdrawal Bill, unless Theresa May’s version is miraculously voted up, and tackle the growing calls from opposition parties for an instant general election.
Good luck, folks!
In the meantime, here’s a look at the main runners and riders to be the Next British Prime Minister according to the bookmakers.
Boris Johnson (10/11)
You’re probably aware of this bungling buffoon already – a man with the moral fibre and substance of a jelly left out in the sun.
The former foreign secretary has had his eyes on the top prize for quite some time, and his resignation – citing May’s inability to deliver Brexit – was seen as pompous careerism manifest. Pompous, Boris?
Boris is well liked by the voting public, that’s a start, and he enjoys the support of Tory hardliners too, although more level-headed Conservatives may take some persuading.
The anti-EU stance of Johnson ensures he remains popular in the polls too, and if the Tories are simply looking for a leader to get them safely through the next election with a straightforward victory, Boris is surely the man for the job.
Dominic Raab (6/1)
From the ridiculous to the even more ridiculous.
Dominic Raab quit as Brexit Secretary because he has the negotiating skills of a child in a sweet shop, so the idea of him being the most powerful individual in the country is laughable, really.
But he did slate May’s much-derided Withdrawal Bill, and is quoted as saying that he would have rather left with no deal than the PM’s effort.
With support from influential figures such as David Davis inside the party, Raab could be a strong rival to Johnson. But without any real positivity from the electorate, he would be a risky appointment in this fragile juncture of Conservative history.
Michael Gove (12/1)
He might resembled retro children’s TV character Pob, but Michael Gove is respected in politics for his clear thinking approach.
But how likely he is to be appointed PM, and he’s not even confirmed he will run for the position yet, remains to be seen given that he has been a vocal supporter of May’s current Withdrawal Bill.
It could also set up a fascinating battle with Johnson; a man he at first supported in the 2016 leadership race, before turning his back on BoJo and denouncing his chances.
Jeremy Hunt (16/1)
The foreign secretary could be the perfect poster boy for the Tories: he admitted voting Remain in the referendum, but subsequently changed his mind after witnessing the ‘arrogance’ of EU negotiators.
That’s a different, more human angle for a Conservative leader, and as somebody who is considered popular inside the Tories on both sides of Brexit he could enjoy grassroots support.
But then he is a hated figure amongst NHS workers after his time as health secretary, and there was also that embarrassing moment when he called his Chinese wife ‘Japanese’.