Who’s next in line to replace Rishi Sunak? 

Speculation continues over who could be the next leader of the Tory Party

Tory Party leadership

Speculation over who will succeed Rishi Sunak as leader of the Tory Party is only set to grow, despite the wind being taken out of the sail for rebels mulling a coup against the Prime Minister. But a heavy Conservative defeat at the next election will likely see a new leader come in. New ideas on who will be next have continued to circulate this week, here are the current front runners. 

Penny Mordaunt 

It was reported that Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt saw her campaign website re-registered on the day of the local elections, suggesting her interest in party leadership remains strong. A poll by More in Common this week found she was the only Tory leadership contender to be viewed favourably by the public.

Another poll at the beginning of March saw Mordaunt overtake Kemi Badenoch as the most popular cabinet minister according to Tory party members, seeing her edge closer to the fore-front as the most favoured future leadership. However she had to pull out of the Tory leadership race in 2022 after she failed to get enough votes and critics believe her performance was eclipsed by other candidates who were stronger debaters. 

Priti Patel

The former Home Secretary, whose tenure was mired by being found to have broken the ministerial code over bullying claims, has been pitched as the ‘quiet front-runner’ for future Tory leadership. 

Journalist Tom Scotson from Politics Home wrote this week that Patel was emerging as a new favourite candidate as he said she could ‘appeal to a deeply factional parliamentary party as well as to the membership’. 

A Boris Johnson loyalist, he decided to keep Patel on as Home Secretary despite the findings by the PM’s ethics adviser that she had failed to treat her civil servants with respect. It led the head of bargaining at the PCS union to call her “the worst home secretary I can recall in living memory”. 

However, former editor of ConservativeHome Lord Goodman said that, although not from the Left of the party, Patel was “widely seen as a responsible figure”. 

“She could plausibly present herself as the candidate who could best unify a divided right,” Goodman told Scotson.

Kemi Badenoch 

Badenoch impressed Tory members as a successful contender in the 2022 leadership race. Her ‘anti-woke’ stance has won her admirers to the Right of the party and she emerged last year as the Tory grassroots’ favourite minister of 2023. 

The Business Secretary is still the bookies favourite to replace Sunak and has had support from a broad range of Tories. 

Suella Braverman

Braverman thinks of herself as the next Conservative leader but most moderates in the Tory Party would be turned away from her hard-right stance, although her appeal on the right of the party remains strong. However her bid for leadership on a divisive, anti-woke, strong law and order stance does not seem to be landing well.

Her hardline towards immigration and homelessness are not proving popular, as a recent poll by More in Common found she was the least popular potential candidate with both party voters and the general public. 

Her approval rating was minus 31, which made her the only senior Tory even less popular than Rishi Sunak. 

James Cleverly is also seen as a leadership contender, while Robert Jenrick has recently attempted to bolster his chances of running one day as leader. Boris Johnson and David Cameron have also been included on potential candidate lists..

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward

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