Theresa May says she could remain prime minister for far longer than many expect. Which outside candidates could replace her?
On a visit to Japan, prime minister Theresa May said that she could lead her party into the next election, according to the BBC. The site reports that when asked if she planned on leading the Conservatives into the next election – due to take place in 2022 - she said:
“Yes, I’m here for the long-term, and it’s crucial, what me and my government are about is not just delivering on Brexit. We are delivering a brighter future for the United Kingdom."
A Sky News correspondent has said on Twitter that a senior Conservative MP thinks that if May believes what she has said then she must be delusional.
But when May does finally step down – or gets pushed – who could replace her? The current seven favourites, according to Oddschecker, are David Davis, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Philip Hammond, Boris Johnson, Amber Rudd, Ruth Davidson and Damian Green. But in the age of outsiders, it is entirely possible to imagine a dark horse striding past the favourites and making it to the top.
Which outsiders could replace Theresa May?
1. Priti Patel
Patel ticks all the right boxes when it comes to Conservative leadership material. She has ministerial experience, she is a new generation of Tory MP and she backed the vote to leave the EU in last year’s referendum. On top of that, in an interview she did with Total Politics back in 2012, she said she was a strong admirer of Margaret Thatcher. The interviewer, Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski, even called her the saviour of the Tory right.
Her odds range from 25/1 to 40/1 with Oddschecker.
2. Gavin Williamson
Williamson has been Tory chief whip since May came to power in July 2016. A New Statesman article has even said earlier this year that Williamson could be a future leader. It also states that he has a pet tarantula on his parliamentary office desk.
Betfair offers odds of 33/1 for a Williamson leadership while Ladbrokes offer odds of 66/1.
Williamson is definitely one to watch for the future.
3. Ken Clarke
In an age where Brexit is a key component of Conservative policy, it is difficult to imagine this Europhile becoming leader. Now Father of the House, Kenneth Clark has served as Britain’s chancellor and has gone for the leadership on numerous occasions.
The odds for Clarke becoming the next Tory leader are 125/1 with BetFred and 100/1 PaddyPower.
4. Michael Fallon
Fallon has served as Britain's defence secretary since July 2014, first under Cameron’s leadership then May’s. He also served as a Business Minister, as well as an Energy Minister during the coalition years. The odds of him becoming Tory leader are 50/1 with William Hill and 40/1 with PaddyPower.
On the issue of taking over from Theresa May, the Guardian reported back in July that one MP said Fallon could be a potential caretaker leader.
5. Adam Alfriyie
Once called a possible “Tory Obama”, according to the Independent, this former businessman turned MP for Windsor is a possible outside candidate. His odds with Ladbrokes and Coral stand at 100/1, but are currently 50/1 with William Hill. His lack of ministerial experience could, however, hamper his chances if he were to go for the top job. But in the age of outsiders, anything is possible.
6. Jo Johnson
Brother of foreign secretary Boris, this MP has served as Minister for Universities and Science since Cameron won a majority at the 2015 general election. The MP's odds of becoming the next Tory leader stand at 100/1 with PaddyPower. He recently made it on to our list of MPs to watch this parliament.
7. George Osborne
Before the Brexit vote, Osborne looked set to become a candidate in an impending leadership contest once Cameron stepped aside. The former chancellor left the cabinet after May came to power and left parliament at this year’s general election. If May really does lead the Conservatives into the next election, then a comeback for Osborne in 2022 and a swift leadership election following a Tory defeat could make an Osborne leadership a reality.
Coral offer long odds of 100/1 while William Hill offer odds of just 40/1 for Osborne becoming Conservative leader.
The full list of odds on Oddschecker can be accessed here. All odds are accurate as of 1st September.