Sunday 15 September 2019

Waiting in the wings: May's potential successors

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson
Penny Mordaunt
Dominic Raab
British Environment Secretary Michael Gove arrives at 10 Downing Street, London, Britain, November 12, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
John Downing

John Downing

The only question now is: how and when will Theresa May exit the UK prime minister's office? Here are some would-be successors.

BORIS JOHNSON: The former foreign minister has been a bookies' favourite. A substantial figure physically, he is more about style politically. A favourite among Conservative Party members who will choose from two final candidates chosen by the party's MPs. Big doubt is whether he would make it through the MPs' selection process and on to the ballot paper.

JACOB REES-MOGG: Dubbed "the Honourable Member for the 18th century" he is a determined "young fogey" with huge ignorance about Ireland. A darling with some party members. But like Boris Johnson, there are big doubts about him making the last two.

PENNY MORDAUNT: The overseas development minister and ardent Brexiteer Penny Mordaunt is judged by some observers to have "insufficient authority and profile in the near-term". But as a female candidate she could prove more formidable than that.

SAJID JAVID: The home secretary or justice minister is seen as the favourite among younger Tories, representing the new face of a multicultural party. In June 2016, Mr Javid voted Remain but later tried to present himself as a pragmatic Leaver. His face on a ballot paper would test members' attitudes to change.

PHILIP HAMMOND: The finance minister and former foreign minister is a determined Remainer who has done all he could to deliver the softest Brexit possible and has credibility with the business community. But colleagues often say he is "charismatically challenged" and he is derided as "spreadsheet Phil" for his love of that format of presentation.

MICHAEL GOVE: Famed for stabbing colleague Boris Johnson last time in summer 2016. Colleagues turned on him after that and he lost his cabinet job for a time. Now environment minister, he is a high-profile Leave campaigner and could position himself well this time out. Will be considered a real contender.

DOMINIC RAAB and DAVID DAVIS: Two former Brexit ministers who crashed out of Mrs May's cabinet because she disregarded their views. Both names will be mentioned but must be seen as marginal contenders. David Davis was seen as a low-energy and non-committal in his job. Dominic Raab did himself huge damage by admitting he did not know how important the Dover-Calais link was to British commercial life.

Irish Independent

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