Next Tory leader odds: who will be PM after Liz Truss?

Sunak the overwhelming favourite after Boris Johnson ‘bottles it’

Liz Truss delivers her resignation speech
Liz Truss delivers her resignation speech
(Image credit: Rob Pinney/Getty Images)

Rishi Sunak is now the clear favourite to replace Liz Truss as prime minister after his nearest rival Boris Johnson pulled out of the race on Sunday evening.

In a statement last night, Johnson claimed he had the support needed to stand and there was a “very good chance” he would have been successful and “back in Downing Street on Friday”, but that it would not be “the right thing to do”.

Johnson’s statement was “equal parts bullish” optimism and “pretend modesty”, said The Guardian, while the former PM “bottles it” was the view of John Rentoul in The Independent. However, the Daily Mail thought Johnson had “set his dream aside” in a gesture of “wisdom, honour and statesmanship”.

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In “as clear a repudiation of Johnson as you could expect to see”, according to the Financial Times’ Stephen Bush, Sunak announced his second leadership bid highlighting the importance of “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level” of the government he leads.

Attention has now turned to Penny Mordaunt, “who may still fancy her chances with the grassroots if she can hoover up enough disgruntled Johnson supporters to get her over the line”, said Politico’s London Playbook. But Mordaunt “only had around two dozen nominations for the leadership last night”, said The Times, and “will need to win the vast majority of former Johnson supporters to make the ballot paper” before nominations close at 2pm.

One of Mordaunt’s most senior backers, Damian Green, said that she should hit the 100 mark sometime today.

“We’re confident Penny will get above the 100 mark,” Green told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “There were a lot of people who weren’t declaring publicly what they were doing. Penny’s numbers are well above the published figures already, even without any of Boris supporters.”

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Rishi Sunak

(Image credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Relatively new to the world of politics, Sunak was first elected as the Conservative MP for Richmond in North Yorkshire in 2015 after a career in investment banking. He entered the cabinet in 2019 as chief secretary to the Treasury before being appointed as chancellor a year later.

He “rose to prominence” during the pandemic, “with bold interventions to try and avert economic havoc”, said Politico. Friends of Sunak’s told The Sun that the former chancellor now wants to become prime minister to “get on with the task of rebuilding the battered economy”.

After his resignation in July helped spark Boris Johnson’s downfall, Sunak became the favourite among MPs to become the next Tory leader. Ultimately, he lost to Liz Truss in the membership vote – but “Sunak can only have sat back and watched in glee and horror at what has unfolded since”, said The Independent, as he waited “quietly in the wings”.

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Penny Mordaunt

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mordaunt was described by PoliticsHome as the “dark horse” candidate in the Summer race to replace Johnson. The MP for Portsmouth North has held the post of defence secretary, among other cabinet positions, and was made leader of the House of Commons under Truss.

Mordaunt encouraged MPs to “keep calm and carry on” following Truss’s resignation yesterday. It had earlier been reported that Sunak supporters had encouraged him to run with Mordaunt on a joint ticket, but The Telegraph reported yesterday that sources said the Commons leader “does not want to ‘play second fiddle’”.

Despite trailing Johnson and Sunak in the bookies’ odds, Mordaunt “believes she can win the contest on her own terms”, the newspaper said yesterday.

*Odds from bet365 via Oddschecker

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