Boris Johnson has come under increasing pressure in recent days amid the mounting allegations of parties in Downing Street.
Sue Gray’s report is set to be released imminently, and the Metropolitan Police confirmed on Tuesday that it would investigate a “number of gatherings” at No10 during the pandemic for evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Sir Keir Starmer described the police investigation into allegations of parties at Downing Street as a “shameful spectacle” – and called Mr Johnson’s record “utterly damning” amid the soaring costs of inflation and petrol.
Mr Johnson repeatedly refused to step down and instead insisted that the Government had “delivered” on a range of other issues including Brexit and the vaccine rollout.
But a number of MPs and MSPs across the nation are still calling on Mr Johnson to resign and, should his tenure as Prime Minister come to an end, several senior Conservative figures are being tipped as potential successors.
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, and Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, are seen as the favourites to take the top job.
The Chancellor sparked intrigue after he waited more than eight hours to tweet about Boris Johnson’s intervention in the commons over “Partygate” and was far far from full-throated in his support for the PM, leading to raised eyebrows among colleagues.
Speculation about Mr Sunak’s leadership ambitions is far from new. Some think he is too closely tied to the PM as Chancellor, while others say his high tax, high spend policies could damage his chances. However the complete contrast he offers to Boris Johnson as a much more sober and technocratic politician is said to work in his favour among those who want a fresh leadership style.
The Foreign Secretary also took time to come out in support of the Prime Minister, but when she did she declared her “100 per cent” backing for Mr Johnson.
She is said to be in the midst of a charm offensive, holding “fizz with Lizz” nights for backbenchers in efforts to corral support in the early stages of any future leadership contest
Ms Truss is known to be very ambitious and is a firm favourite among the wider Tory Party membership.
Jeremy Hunt is considered a big political beast with plenty of experience for the job. However, some say he is unlikely to succeed after his failure in the 2019 Tory leadership race. There are also concerns that as a former health secretary he could be vulnerable to criticism over planning ahead of the Covid pandemic.
Other runners and riders:
Priti Patel, Michael Gove, Steve Baker, Mark Harper, and Tom Tugendhat are also among the names being linked with a run at the top job.
Watch the video above for Lucy Fisher’s verdict on the runners and riders.
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