Theresa May’s time as Tory leader could be about to end. Is 2018 a case of “new year, new leader”?
The British prime minister could be faced with a plot to oust her if “sufficient progress” is not made in the ongoing Brexit talks, according to a report in the Mirror. On top of that, the odds of Theresa May departing the country’s top job in 2018 now stand at 11/10 (Ladbrokes).
Here are the seven favourite Conservative to replace May if Brexit calls her swan song, according to Oddschecker (as of 7th December). One inexperienced back-bench MP tops the list.
7th – Michael Gove
After being banished to the Tory back-benches, Gove returned to cabinet as Environment Secretary this June. Since then his political stock has risen and he is even the Ladbrokes favourite to be the UK’s next chancellor, as reported by HITC last month (4/6).
6th – Ruth Davidson
If recent polls in Scotland are anything to go by, Davidson’s chances at becoming Scotland’s next first minister are slimming. Scottish Labour, boosted by Jeremy Corbyn’s June successes, and now led by left-wing Richard Leonard, appear to have shifted support upwards for Labour in Scotland. If this carries on, Ruth Davidson could fail to make an impact come 2021.
With that in mind, could a switch to Westminster be in order? Davidson is certainly a popular figure within the Conservatives – she managed to make gains in Scotland in June when the rest of the Tory party went backwards – so there could be an opening. If it were not for logistical issues, Ruth Davidson would probably be ahead of the pack.
5th – Amber Rudd
Next up is Britain’s home secretary Amber Rudd. If it were not for Brexit, Amber Rudd would probably be a clear choice, she’s approachable and charismatic, but according to a recent YouGov poll, just 22% of Conservative party members believe she wants to take the UK out of the EU. If a future contest came down to Amber Rudd and someone like Boris Johnson, David Davis or Michael Gove, Rudd would probably fare poorly in a members’ ballot for this very reason.
4th – Andrea Leadsom
Leadsom’s political stock has risen significantly in recent weeks. Perhaps we should not be too surprised.
Firstly, Leadsom made it into the final two last time round. Secondly, she is a staunch Brexiteer. Thirdly, as Leader of the House of Commons she has managed to keep a low profile as the Brexit chaos happens all around her. If one of the key questions in a new contest is how to manage negotiations, Leadsom can deny any association with the shambles of the past nine months.
Leadsom is certainly one to watch.
3rd – David Davis
The Brexit secretary, who shocked much of Britain’s news outlets earlier this week by declaring that no sector Brexit impact assessments had been conducted during an Exiting the EU Committee hearing. According to the Metro, newly elected Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse suggested that Davis had been “misleading parliament from the start”.
Recent events such as this – and the struggling Brexit process – have surely damaged Davis’ chances. Nonetheless, he is the third favourite to replace Theresa May as Conservative leader.
2nd – Boris Johnson
Despite controversies over the last year, Johnson has remained in the top three or four to become the next Conservative leader. He recently wrote in the Telegraph, calling on Britain to play a leading role in stopping Islamist terror.
He has the Brexiteer credentials to win over Tory grassroots, but can he gain enough support to make it into the final two? Only once May steps down, we will see if his gaffes and controversies of the last year have helped or hindered his chances.
1st – Jacob Rees-Mogg
Over the summer, Rees-Mogg was propelled into the spotlight and became one of the favourites to replace Theresa May as Conservative leader. According to Oddschecker, the eccentric back-bencher is currently the favourite to take the party’s top spot.
However, it’s often said that front-runners in Conservative leadership contests rarely succeed – just look at Boris Johnson’s 2016 bid – and the chances of this inexperienced politician becoming Conservative leader, and prime minister, look very unlikely indeed.
Then, again (I’m looking at you, Trump, Corbyn, Brexit) we live in the age of the improbable.
The order of this list is based off Oddscheckers' list of odds, which can be accessed here.