Who could replace Liz Truss as next UK prime minister?
The humiliating end Thursday of Liz Truss’ historically short UK leadership sparked frenzied speculation over who will replace her — with some even predicting a return of her doomed predecessor Boris Johnson.
Truss only entered 10 Downing Street as the Conservative Party’s pick on Sept. 5 — with her resignation after just 44 days in office Thursday making her the shortest-serving leader in British political history.
She leaves with her ruling Conservative Party more divided than ever — leaving no obvious replacement in her wake.
That makes the leadership battle rife for gamblers eager to make back some of the hard-earned cash they lost due to Truss’ disastrous economic policies.
Here are the top five favorites according to political pundits and bookies alike.
Britain’s former finance minister was the runner-up to Truss in the previous leadership battle, and the current favorite according to online bookmakers Betfair.
He has long been one of the most popular candidates among Conservative lawmakers at Westminster, with many praising him for forewarning of previous economic crises that befell the UK.
Others, however, blame him for some of the financial policies that ultimately led to Truss’ downfall.
Many Members of Parliament (MPs) also blame Sunak for bringing down once-popular PM Johnson by sparking the rebellion with his resignation as finance minister in July. Those party members still loyal to Johnson are likely to put up fierce resistance to Sunak’s aspirations.
The former defense secretary came third in the previous race, with Betfair suggesting she maintains the same position in the running behind Sunak.
Mordaunt won plaudits for her performance in parliament on Monday, when she defended the government even as it reversed most of its policies.
One lawmaker has described Mordaunt as having “broad appeal,” referring to her ability to find friends in the various tribes of the party.
However, others are thought to be wary of taking a chance on an inexperienced candidate at a time of unprecedented troubles.
Truss had turned to Hunt to try to save her doomed economic policies — and now many believe his party will likewise look to him to take the helm.
While he has been Treasury chief of just three days, Hunt is seen as a safe bet given his vast experience, including spells as both health and foreign minister.
Some lawmakers, in fact, had already started referring to Hunt as the “real prime minister” at the end of Truss’ time.
“As long as he doesn’t annoy the right too much, he’s in the obvious position” as frontrunner, one former minister told The Times of London.
“He’s highly experienced and he has served at the highest level for a long time, which is not something that can be said for some of the other names being bandied around.”
However, Betfair only puts him in seventh place, likely because of his previous bids ending in disaster. In the last campaign, Hunt finished last of eight candidates on the first ballot — with only 18 MPs supporting him.
He pointed to those failures just days ago, suggesting they had ended his leadership ambitions.
“I think having run two leadership campaigns, and by the way failed in both of them, the desire to be leader has been clinically excised from me,” he told the BBC on Sunday.
The quirky, Big Apple-born journalist only begrudgingly quit after a show of no confidence in July — and has made no secret of his ongoing political ambitions.
His supporters have been even more vocal, including former culture secretary Nadine Dorries who on Wednesday said that MPs “must demand” BoJo’s return.
Bookmakers Betfair also has Johnson as the third-favorite.
However, political insiders believe he is far too great a risk to be voted back into office, especially as his scandals — including parties defying his own COVID lockdown policies — sparked the current leadership crisis.
Some closest to him also say that he is more interested in making money on the speech circuit than returning to frontline politics.
Britain’s current defense secretary is one of the few ministers to have emerged from recent political turmoil with his credibility enhanced.
The former soldier was defense minister for both Johnson and Truss, and has been praised for leading Britain’s response to Russia’s war on Ukraine.
He is thought to be a popular choice among pother party members, and at least one cabinet minister is said to be lobbying hard on Wallace’s behalf, according t the UK Times.
However, others are wary of his lack of experience with the economy, the biggest issue that forced Truss from power.
Wallace also surprised many earlier this year when he said he wouldn’t run for the leadership, telling the UK Times he wanted to keep his current defense job “until I finish.”
“I love the job I do and we have more to do. I want the prime minister to be the prime minister and I want to do this job,” he told the UK paper.
With Post wires