Find Us

Who is favourite to replace Theresa May as UK prime minister?

Who is favourite to replace Theresa May as UK prime minister?
Copyright REUTERS
Copyright REUTERS
By Alastair JamiesonMichael-Ross Fiorentino
Published on Updated
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

With May's looming departure, a leadership void might not only appear in the Conservative Party but also in the prime minister's office as well. But who do the oddsmakers think to have the best chance to take the helm of Britain's oldest political party and perhaps the UK as a whole?


UK prime minister Theresa May has announced her departure on June 7 — and fired the starting gun for those jostling to replace her.

She will continue as Prime Minister until a successor can be found. But who will it be?

Her former foreign minister, Boris Johnson, has indicated he will be in the race to enter 10 Downing Street. But who else is favourite to head up the Conservative Party and the UK government? And what will each change of leadership have on Brexit?

Boris Johnson: 5/4

According to Oddschecker, the favourite to take control of Tory leadership is Brexit campaigner and former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

In Johnson's resignation letter from July 2018, he wrote that the Brexit "dream is dying, suffocated by needless self-doubt."

The 54-year-old, who also served as Mayor of London from 2008-2016, has been one of the most vocal Brexiteers from the outset.

Boris Johnson at the 2019 British Insurance Brokers' Association conferenceBIBA 2019 CONFERENCE/Handout via REUTERS

He became the first Tory to publicly throw his hat in the ring to replace May earlier this month.

With the Tories sinking in the polls, the Conservatives could be attracted to Johnson's bullish Brexit policies and popularity among party activists.

However, many in the party have spoken out about his suitability, raising concerns over his gaffes and personal integrity.

Dominic Raab: 7/1

Bookmakers have dubbed Esher and Walton MP, Dominic Raab, the second most likely Tory to command leadership of the party.

Raab followed David Davis as the UK's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union before resigning from May's cabinet in November 2018, due to his disapproval over the Cabinet position on the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement.

REUTERS / Henry Nicholls
Dominic Raab, leaves 10 Downing Street.REUTERS / Henry Nicholls

At the time of his resignation, Raab said he could not support the PM's deal because the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland presented a “very real threat” to the integrity of the UK and was also opposed to the indefinite backstop arrangement.

Raab, who studied law at Oxford and then Cambridge, played a prominent role in the Leave campaign of 2016 and has potentially candidacy has already inspired a 'Ready for Raab' social media campaign promoting the MP's claim to conservative leadership.

In leading up to the original March 29 Brexit deadline, Raab said that a no-deal Brexit scenario was not his "preferred outcome" but would rather leave the EU without a deal than filing a Brexit extension.

David Lidington: 12/1

The Cabinet Office minister has been talked about as a possible 'caretaker' Prime Minister who could oversee the final stages of Brexit before making way for another Conservative leader while avoiding a general election.

With a lower profile than most other contenders, he is seen as a less divisive figure in a cabinet split apart over Brexit.

Jeremy Hunt: 12/1

Coming in third right behind Raab with 12-to-1 odds is current British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

REUTERS/ Francois Lenoir
US Secretary of State Pompeo (L) poses with Hunt (R) in BrusselsREUTERS/ Francois Lenoir

The 52-year-old MP representing South West Surrey gained national recognition for his leadership in overseeing the 2012 London Olympics, which led to his appointment as Health Secretary.


During the 2016 referendum to leave the EU, Hunt supported Britain's remain campaign.

In 2017 however, he stated that he had changed his mind and now supported Brexit, citing the "arrogance of the EU Commission" in responding to the UK government in the Brexit negotiations.

Hunt has acknowledged his party may be heading for “disastrous” European elections results due to the Conservatives inability to deliver Brexit on time. He has also said alternative options of a general election and a second referendum were "difficult."

Michael Gove: 14/1

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove is next on the list with 14-to-1 odds to seize command of the Conservatives.

REUTERS/Toby Melville
Michael Gove arrives at Cabinet Office in LondonREUTERS/Toby Melville

The 51-year-old MP for Surrey Heath was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and came in third place behind Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom in the 2016 Conservative Party leadership election following the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron.


Gove was one of the first politicians to publically back Brexiteers and described his decision to campaign for Britain to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum as "the most difficult decision of my political life".

Gove, who is also an author and columnist for The Times, has recently warned hardline Tory eurosceptics that leaving the EU without a deal "wasn’t the message of the campaign I helped lead".

Gove told ITV News reporter Robert Preston on Sunday that it is in the national interest to "get Brexit over the line," and it is what the Prime Minister Theresa May needs to focus on.

Penny Mordaunt: 25/1

REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

The first woman the bookmakers are taking seriously to bid for Tory chief is current Secretary of State for Defence Penny Mordaunt.

The enthusiastic Brexiteer is being considered one of the main dark horse candidates to ascend to the top of the conservative ticket as she is one of the last remaining pro-Brexit members of May's cabinet.


Matthew Hancock: 25/1

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock is ex aequo with Mordaunt, according to oddsmaker with a 25-to-1 chance to become Tory captain.

REUTERS / Toby Melville
Hancock leaves 10 Downing Street, in LondonREUTERS / Toby Melville

The 40-year-old MP for West Suffolk has recently defended Theresa May over her decision to hold talks with Jeremy Corbyn to end the Brexit deadlock and said Corbyn’s support for delivering Brexit trumped other concerns about him.

Sajid Javid: 25/1

Another 25-to-1 longshot is current Home Secretary Sajid Javid. The MP for Bromsgrove in Worcestershire since the general election of 2010, Javid is also a former managing director at Deutsche Bank who was an early advocate for an EU referendum but remained a backer for the Remain campaign to the disappointment of pro-Brexit Tories.

REUTERS / Russell Cheyne
Sajid Javid speaks at Conservative conference in AberdeenREUTERS / Russell Cheyne

Javid, 49, who is known to have held Eurosceptic views in the past, has made it clear since the referendum that he is sceptical of softer Brexit options such as remaining in the customs union, saying the free trade area was an “intrinsic” part of the European Union and that voters had given “clear instructions” when they voted to Leave.

Rory Stewart: 28/1

Another longshot is recently appointed Secretary of State for International Development, Rory Stewart, has served as MP for Penrith and The Border since 2010.


Stewart, 46, gained notoriety as senior collation official in Iraq from 2003-04 and for his book Occupational Hazards or The Prince of the Marshes, about his time governing in Iraq.

REUTERS / Henry Nicholls

The Hong Kong-born, Harvard graduate said following Brexit that Britain must "make the best out of Brexit," and that the UK should be "energetic and optimistic" about their position. Stewart stressed the need to invest now more than ever in "rebuilding Britain's international position."

Andrea Leadsom: 12/1

REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

Andrea Leadsom, who ran unsuccessfully against Theresa May in the last leadership contest, has already indicated she will stand again.

She resigned from the cabinet on Wednesday — hours before British voters went to the polls in the European elections — saying that May's Brexit deal was unworkable.

A formidable House of Commons performer, she is a Brexiteer and represents the right wing of the party. Her previous bid for power faltered when she suggested in an interview that her status as a mother made her suitable for the top job — a veiled reference to May, who has no children.


Next PM from a different party?

If whoever succeeds Theresa May is forced into a general election, Britain's next prime minister could be from a different party. The leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, has odds of 20/1 — although that might lengthen if Labour performs badly, as expected, in the European elections.

Share this articleComments

You might also like

Theresa May resigns: How will the Conservative leadership race work?

Labour-Conservative talks to break the Brexit stalemate in the UK collapse

Four arrested for trespassing in grounds of British prime minister's country home