Who are the runners and riders to replace the Prime Minister?

Speculation that Theresa May will be moving out of Downing Street sooner than expected has reached fever pitch after another turbulent week in Westminster.

The Prime Minister told colleagues at the end of last year that she would step down before the next scheduled general election in 2022 but the pace of politics means she could be gone before then.

Here’s a look at key names currently being floated to take the helm if Mrs May steps down.

Michael Gove

The Environment Secretary said it was “not the time to change the captain of the ship’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

The Environment Secretary had a bruising experience in the last Tory leadership race but he is now seen as the favourite at 3-1 – according to Ladbrokes – to replace Mrs May, largely due to his Brexiteer credentials.

In June 2016, Mr Gove, who was campaign manager for Boris Johnson’s drive to succeed David Cameron, withdrew his support on the morning Mr Johnson was due to declare and threw his own hat in the ring instead.

He came third in the first round of voting, trailing behind ultimate winner Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom.

Mr Gove, 51, was born in Edinburgh, studied English at Oxford and was a journalist before becoming an MP. He is married to Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine.

Despite speculation he could take the job, he told reporters on Sunday it was “not the time to change the captain of the ship”.

David Lidington

David Lidington said ‘I don’t think that I’ve any wish to take over from the PM’ (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mrs May’s de facto deputy is seen by some as the natural caretaker prime minister but he has been clear he does not want the job.

“One thing that working closely with the Prime Minister does is cure you completely of any lingering shred of ambition to want to do that task,” he said on Sunday.

Ladbrokes are offering odds of 4-1 for him to become Number 10’s next occupant.

The 62-year-old has been the MP for Aylesbury since 1992 and was Minister of State for Europe from 2010 to 2016. He is married with four children.

Boris Johnson

EU referendum
Boris Johnson was a key player in the 2017 Leave campaign (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Prominent Brexiteer and former foreign secretary Mr Johnson has been a leading voice of opposition to Mrs May’s Brexit plan.

The colourful Old Etonian was one of the key players in the 2017 Leave campaign and resigned from the Cabinet following the Chequers summit in July.

He was heavily tipped as a successor to David Cameron but ruled himself out of the 2016 leadership contest after Michael Gove made a last-minute bid for the top job.

Odds of him taking the helm have slipped in recent months to 8-1, according to Ladbrokes, but he is likely to have the backing of many pro-Leave members of the party.

Jeremy Hunt

Cabinet meeting
Jeremy Hunt chose not to run in the 2016 leadership contest (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt (odds of 8-1 with Ladbrokes) was a prominent Remainer in the 2016 referendum.

As Health Secretary, Mr Hunt fought a long battle with doctors over a new contract.

The 52-year-old, who was first elected as MP for South West Surrey in 2005, was appointed Foreign Secretary in July following the resignation of Boris Johnson.

He chose not to run in the 2016 leadership contest and instead gave his full support to Mrs May, saying it was “not the right time” to put his hat in the ring.

Mr Hunt made a public shift towards Euroscepticism after the referendum, which could win him allies in the Leave camp if he ran for the top job.

Dominic Raab

Dominic Raab is thought to have ambitions of taking on the top job (Steve Parsons/PA) 

With odds at 12-1, Mr Raab is an outlier to take over from the Prime Minister but is thought to harbour ambitions for the role.

Mr Raab, a prominent Brexiteer in the referendum campaign, was appointed as Brexit Secretary in July but resigned from the role in November, saying he could not support Mrs May’s eventual deal.

In his resignation letter on November 15, he wrote: “Ultimately, you deserve a Brexit Secretary who can make the case for the deal you are pursuing with conviction. I am only sorry, in good conscience, that I cannot.”

Mr Raab, 44, has been the MP for Esher and Walton since he was elected in 2010.

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