May’s reshuffle failed to rock the boat, but by “playing it safe”, the PM has probably secured her position at least until Brexit negotiations are complete. And even then, it’s just possible to see the PM holding on until the next general election. The longer she stays, the more this is likely to be the case. A reasonable Brexit deal would likely cement her position at the top of her party for years to come.
If that is the case, the next Tory leader is unlikely to be Philip Hammond, Boris Johnson, Amber Rudd or David Davis. By then, the shine will have worn off and the party will be looking for fresh, new talent.
Here are seven junior ministers who could replace May.
1. Rory Stewart
Stewart is an experienced junior minister who has long been tipped for bigger things, so his move from the foreign office to being moved to become the courts and justice minister rather than something more might have come as a surprise. First elected in 2010, he has plenty of military and diplomatic experience, so he is certainly one to watch.
Interestingly, according to the Guardian, Stewart walked 6,000 miles across Asia and has published several books.
2. Jo Johnson
Boris’ brother could be the dark horse in a future Tory leadership contest, rather like the Ed to Boris' David. Johnson served as universities minister, and gained a name for himself in recent months, but he has been moved to the transport office, replacing John Hayes. He may not be the Johnson everyone knows, but could he have that ambitious Johnson gene?
3. Oliver Dowden
Who? With little to no public nation-wide public recognition, Dowden would be a fresh-faced leader. He was first elected in 2015, and until this week’s reshuffle he was a backbencher. He is now a parliamentary secretary to the cabinet office, and according to the Borehamwood and Elstree Times worked as a deputy chief of staff for David Cameron. The Tory party is currently not ready for a Cameronite leader, but a few years down the line in a post-Brexit world, things could be very different.
4. Lucy Frazer
This QC is another new appointee as of this week. Frazer has represented the seat of South East Cambridgeshire since 2015, and now serves as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Justice Ministry.
One to watch? One to watch.
5. Caroline Dineage
Dineage has been in parliament since 2010, and has moved from being a Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the position of Minister for Health and Social Care. She is definitely on the rise and is one to keep an eye on in the coming years.
6. Dominic Raab
Like Stewart and Johnson, Raab has been a minister for some time, and has been moved from the justice department to housing. Nonetheless, he is building up experience and could one day be seen as the fresh face the party will need.
He was first elected in 2010, and has long been seen as a rising star.
7. Suella Fernandes
First elected in 2015, Fernandes is now in the newly created role of Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Brexit department. A barrister by profession and a former president of Cambridge University’s Conservative society, according to the Guardian, Fernandes is one to watch for the future.