1. Jeremy Corbyn
Whether Corbyn becomes prime minister or crashes and burns at the next election, 2017 will be remembered as the year of Corbyn. The 2017 election allowed Corbynmania to cross over from the Labour sphere to the public sphere, and while the Conservatives won the most seats and votes, Corbyn’s Labour – for it is no longer the Labour of Blair and Brown – achieved a 10% swing and reduced Theresa May’s government to a minority. Against all the odds, Jeremy Corbyn took a giant leap forward towards Number 10.
The question is, can he go all the way to the top?
2. Vince Cable
The 2017 general election, at which the Liberal Democrats gained four seats but lost votes, resulted in the resignation of Tim Farron. After two years out of his seat, Vince Cable returned to parliament and announced his intentions to replace Farron. After no one else declared their candicacy, Cable was declared the leader of the party.
The new Lib Dem leader has failed to make significant progress since his election, but 2018’s local elections could provide that opportunity as Brexit goes nearer.
3. Michael Gove
Gove started the year off as backbencher far from any sort of real power, but May’s loss of her majority led to the return of the heavy-weight Brexiteer, this time as environment secretary. Since then he has gone from strength to strength, in an attempt to make the Tories seem greener and is now favourite to replace Philip Hammond as chancellor, according to Ladbrokes’ odds (4/1) and has been for well over a month.
4. Gavin Williamson
Until November, Williamson was not a household name, but all that changed following Michael Fallon’s resignation as defence secretary. In a move that shocked the Westminster bubble, Theresa May appointed Williamson to Fallon’s old job. This relatively new MP is climbing the cabinet ladder, but how far can he go in 2018?
5. Penny Mordaunt
One week after Fallon’s resignation, Priti Patel also stepped down from the cabinet. Unlike Theresa May’s decision from the week before, Penny Mordaunt’s appointment to the Department for International Development was widely expected. Mordaunt has certainly ended 2017 on a high.
6. Owen Smith
In the summer of 2016, Smith challenged Corbyn for the leadership of the Labour party as he did not believe that Corbyn had what it takes to win an election. Ultimately, he lost the contest, but after June’s election, he joined the front-bench, in a clear sign that Corbyn is now seen as a leader who could win the next election. Fair play to Smith for admitting his mistake.