A new leadership contest will be held in a week, Liz Truss said in her resignation speech.
This will be the fifth Conservative prime minister in just over six years, and the third within this parliamentary term.
But who could be the next leader? Here are the main riders and riders.
Sunak has proven to be something of a prophet of the government’s demise, as many of the predictions he made during this summer’s leadership about Truss’s economic plan came true.
The former Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) warned that Truss’s unfunded tax cuts would lead to a run on sterling, bond market panic and concern from the International Monetary Fund. Perhaps even he would have been surprised by the pace with which he agreed.
Sunak has experience fighting the economic crisis, having guided the UK through the Covid-19 pandemic. He is also popular with MPs, as he won more votes within Parliament than Truss before members chose between the final candidates, only narrowly losing in the final vote.
The trust he has among MPs, and the vindication his predictions have garnered, may make him the next most likely set of hands to steer the ship.
The leader of the House of Commons may have had a dress rehearsal for prime minister this week, after standing in for an absent Liz Truss in a debate.
“The prime minister is not under a desk,” Mordaunt confirmed on Tuesday, in a performance that seemed as much about showing up as helping the prime minister.
Mordaunt came third in the last leadership election, narrowly missing out on being introduced to the membership, among whom she was expected to do well, in part due to her military credentials. Mordaunt is a Royal Navy reservist.
Like Sunak, he belongs to the more moderate wing of the party. There was even talk among MPs that the two would form a “dream team”, although this has yet to materialize, and it is unclear if Sunak would settle for being chancellor again.
It is a sign of the disarray of the final days of the Truss government that Grant Shapps was elevated to Home Secretary, despite not offering him any ministerial post when he first took office.
Shapps served as transportation secretary under Boris Johnson. He stood to succeed him in the previous leadership election, only to drop out of the race three days later, after failing to secure the 20 MP votes needed to advance to the next round.
Badenoch was fourth in this summer’s leadership election, but pollsters consistently rated him a favorite among Conservative bases.
Badenoch, one of the youngest MPs in the race, quickly won the endorsement of Tory great Michael Gove, who hailed her as the “outstanding talent” in the party.
Badenoch is from the right of the Conservative party, and in his previous bid for leadership he suggested that the government’s climate targets could prove too costly.
Just a few months ago, Johnson won a comfortable majority in Parliament and even stated that he was considering a third term, to widespread derision. Despite being beset by a seemingly endless series of scandals, Labor continued to trail behind in the polls, and Johnson had no obvious competitor in the party.
In his last speech as prime minister outside 10 Downing Street, Johnson made one of his trademark allusions to ancient history. He said that he would “return to the plow of him” like the Roman statesman Cincinnatus, suggesting a quieter life in the back banks.
But that was not how Cincinnatus ended its days. They called him from his plow to return to Rome for a second term, this time as dictator.
Memories of “Partygate,” the protracted scandal that eventually resulted in his downfall, may be too fresh for MPs to call Johnson just yet.
But as the Tory party faces electoral oblivion, the man who won an 80-seat majority in 2019 may prove a tempting choice for many MPs.
Other names on the hat
her brave‘s resignation as Home Secretary on Wednesday night may have been a precursor to a possible leadership bid. The former attorney general hasn’t run before, but with her hard-line stance on immigration, it could look like she’ll drag the party further to the right.
tom tugendhat he emerged as a surprise favorite among Tory members and the general public, despite only coming in fifth in the last leadership election. Not having been a cabinet member before that contest, Tugendhat distanced himself from the moral chaos of the Johnson government and promised a “clean start” for Britain. After serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, Truss appointed Tugendhat as security minister.
ben wallace, defense secretary and another ex-military man, was chosen to succeed Johnson in the latest leadership contest, scoring highly among conservative members. However, he never ran in that election and it is unclear if his position has changed since then.