Who’s in and who’s out in the race to become the next occupant of 10 Downing Street – and who is the bookies’ favourite?
The jockeying began even before Boris Johnson announced his resignation and since then his former employees have been busy announcing their intentions to stand on social media and in broadsheet newspapers.
Who has said they are running?
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak is the biggest name to have entered the contest so far.
Entering the race a day after Mr Johnson’s resignation, Mr Sunak promised to rebuild voters’ trust after the previous tumultuous premiership.
In a glossy launch video in which he set out his family history, he said: “Our country faces huge challenges, the most serious for a generation.
“And the decisions we make today will decide whether the next generation of British people will also have the chance of a better future.”
Until the last few months, Mr Sunak was seen by many Conservative MPs as the frontrunner in the race to succeed Mr Johnson.
An exclusive poll for Sky News in January found that almost half of Tory members thought he would make a better leader and could win more seats at the next election than Mr Johnson.
But after introducing a number of policies – such as a national insurance rise – that went down badly with Tory MPs, his popularity has slumped.
He was also fined for attending the PM’s birthday party during lockdown, compromising his ability to separate himself from partygate.
The revelation that his wife, the multimillionaire Akshata Murty, held non-dom status and therefore did not have to pay UK tax on her sizeable international income also damaged his standing.
After uproar that a minister’s wife was not paying UK taxes on that income, she confirmed she would do so as it had “become clear that many do not feel it is compatible with my husband’s role as chancellor”.
Mr Sunak had been in Number 11 since early 2020, being elevated straight from a junior ministerial post to one of the most powerful cabinet positions after Sajid Javid’s surprise resignation.
Within a matter of weeks, COVID struck and the former chancellor assumed a prominent role in the government’s pandemic response, announcing a raft of measures to support workers and businesses.
Mr Sunak was elected in 2015, succeeding former Tory leader Lord Hague in the seat of Richmond in North Yorkshire.
He backed Brexit in 2016, telling his constituents at the time that it was the “toughest decision” of his political career.
Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, became the first to throw his hat in the ring after Mr Johnson left office.
Mr Tugendhat, a former soldier, was heavily critical of the government’s handling of the Afghanistan crisis and could be a possible figurehead for the so-called One Nation wing of the party.
Announcing his future bid for leader with an article in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Tugendhat said: “I have served before – in the military, and now in parliament. Now I hope to answer the call once again as prime minister.
“It’s time for a clean start. It’s time for renewal.”
Although lacking in ministerial experience, Mr Tugendhat’s name is increasingly coming up as a viable option.
He supported the campaign to remain in the EU but voted loyally on Brexit matters under both Theresa May and Mr Johnson.
He has opposed stricter coronavirus measures during the pandemic.
The transport secretary has launched his campaign saying he will end “tactical government by an often distracted centre”.
He is one of the most recognisable senior Tories, appearing for the government in many morning media rounds and appears to have a penchant for acting – as his videos promoting various transport initiatives have shown.
The MP for Welwyn Hatfield since 2005, he went to a grammar school then Manchester Polytechnic, and in 1989, aged 21, he was in a coma for a week after a car crash in Kansas.
He was a photocopier sales rep before owning a print business and founded a publishing business with his wife while he recovered from cancer.
Mr Shapps has ended up in hot water over the years for allegedly using pseudonyms and having a second job while he was an MP, which he denied then eventually admitted in 2015.
He was a favourite of Mr Cameron, who made him housing secretary and Conservative Party chairman.
But he stepped down from his post in 2015 over allegations of bullying within the Conservative Party – which he was not involved in – and had a few years on the backbenches under Mrs May.
Mr Johnson rewarded him for supporting his leadership bid, despite being a Remainer, by making him transport secretary.
He has essentially nationalised Northern Trains and has been in charge of COVID travel restrictions. He is currently dealing with potential airline staff strikes and airport chaos.
Nadhim Zahawi has also thrown his hat into the ring. He owes his popularity to his role as vaccines minister, when he oversaw the rollout of the Covid jabs.
He was then promoted to education secretary and has since replaced Mr Sunak as chancellor.
He is seen as a strong communicator and as someone relatively untarnished compared to some other cabinet ministers.
Mr Zahawi pledged lower taxes as he announced his bid.
“The burden of tax is simply too high. As an entrepreneur and businessman, I know that lower taxes are how we create a thriving and dynamic economy,” he said.
“Taxes for individuals, families and business need to be lower, and will be on my watch.”
As a nine-year-old, Mr Zahawi and his Iraqi Kurdish family fled from Saddam Hussein to the UK and he has spoken about not being able to read English at 11.
“If a young boy, who came here aged 11 without a word of English, can serve at the highest levels of Her Majesty’s Government and run to be the next Prime Minister, anything is possible,” he said.
Jeremy Hunt, the chair of the health and social care select committee, has also announced he intends to run.
He said he is running to win back trust and would cut business taxes to the lowest in the Western world.
It will be his second leadership contest – he was Mr Johnson’s rival in the head-to-head runoff in the last Conservative leadership election in 2019.
The dividing line in that contest was Brexit – and Mr Johnson’s vow to leave the EU even without a deal saw him win 66% of the vote.
After the contest, Mr Johnson surprised many by sacking Mr Hunt as foreign secretary.
Mr Hunt appears to have grown to enjoy his role as a party grandee and chair of a select committee.
His backers believe his strength as a candidate would come from not being tainted by being part of Mr Johnson’s cabinet.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Hunt said: “We have to be honest that over the last year we lost the trust of many swathes of people who voted Conservative in 2019.
“I am the only major candidate who has not served in Boris Johnson’s government. I called out what was going wrong long before any of the other major contenders and I have not been defending the indefensible.
“So by choosing me, the Conservative Party is sending a signal to those voters that we have listened to your concerns and we have changed. That is the most important thing we need to do now. It is to restore trust.”
Sajid Javid has also entered the race for Tory leader.
His resignation as health secretary on Tuesday kicked off the avalanche of departures that forced Mr Johnson out.
Mr Javid has held almost every senior cabinet position – he was most recently health secretary, but has served as chancellor, home secretary, housing secretary, business secretary and culture secretary.
He previously stood for the leadership on a joint ticket with former cabinet minister Stephen Crabb in 2016, and as a candidate in his own right in the 2019 race, but failed to secure enough support to make the final runoff.
Numerous profiles have been written about his remarkable back story – the son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver who lived above a shop in Bristol and became an investment banker and then politician.
He returned to Mr Johnson’s cabinet last summer having dramatically resigned as chancellor at the start of 2020 when he refused to allow Number 10 to choose his team of advisers.
During his time on the backbenches he made efforts to portray himself as a Thatcherite – her portrait hangs in his office – and was critical of some COVID measures, but his support for the Remain campaign in the Brexit referendum, and backing of Plan B COVID measures, may put off some Conservative MPs.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Javid said he would bring forward a planned 1p cut in income tax to next year.
He would cut corporation tax by 1p per year to eventually reach 15p.
Mr Javid said the “tax rate now is already almost a 70-year high – and that’s happened under the Conservatives”.
He went on: “I think that troubles a lot of people. And so I think a prerequisite for growth is tax cuts.
“There are some that say that you can’t have tax cuts until you’ve got growth.
“I think that’s wrong. I think that is fundamentally flawed analysis.
“I think you can’t have growth until you’ve got the tax cuts.”
Former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch also declared her intention to run for prime minister – telling the Times on Friday that she would cut the size of the state and rule over a “limited government focused on essentials”.
The MP for Saffron Walden said she supported lower taxes “to boost growth and productivity, and accompanied by tight spending discipline”.
She also hit out at “identity politics” and said Mr Johnson was “a symptom of the problems we face, not the cause of them”.
She is backed by North East Derbyshire MP Lee Rowley.
Attorney General Suella Braverman has confirmed she will be running.
The decision was expected as she had announced her decision to do so before the prime minister resigned.
“I owe a debt of gratitude to this country and I would be honoured to serve as Prime Minister,” Ms Braverman tweeted.
Writing in the Daily Express, Ms Braverman promised “rapid and large tax cuts” to ease inflation.
She also said the energy crisis meant “we must suspend the all-consuming desire to achieve net zero by 2050”.
She has the backing of former minister Steve Baker, who had previously said he was considering his own bid.
The bookies’ favourite pulls out
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace initially had the best odds to succeed as Tory leader and prime minister, having risen up the party’s popularity rankings in recent months. However, in an announcement two days after Mr Johnson’s resignation, he ruled himself out.
In a statement posted on social media, Mr Wallace wrote: “It has not been an easy choice to make, but my focus is on my current job and keeping this great country safe.
“I wish the very best of luck to all candidates and hope we swiftly return to focusing on the issues that we are all elected to address.”
Who is yet to declare?
The foreign secretary has long been touted as a potential successor to Mr Johnson and has been shown to be popular among Conservative Party members in surveys.
Ms Truss is widely seen to have been laying the groundwork for a future tilt at the top job with her social media output.
She has been an MP since 2010 and began rising up the ministerial ladder soon after entering parliament.
She is the longest continuous serving member of the cabinet, having held positions under David Cameron, Mrs May and Mr Johnson.
“Liz Truss: the new Iron Lady?” read the headline of a profile piece in The Times just before Christmas.
Any comparisons to Margaret Thatcher, Tory prime minister from 1979 to 1990 and a figure adored by the party faithful, will only help Ms Truss, who seems all too willing to play up any likeness.
For some time, Priti Patel was seen as the darling of the Conservative grassroots, with a proud right-wing stance on immigration and public spending.
She was a major backer of Mr Johnson’s leadership bid in 2019 and was rewarded by being appointed home secretary.
But since taking on that role her star appears to have faded, with her handling of the small boat crossings in the Channel a source of significant criticism.
Her popularity among the right wing of the parliamentary party means her candidacy should not be written off, but questions over her handling of the Channel migrant crisis are likely to have dented her chances.
However, a report published in November 2020 by the prime minister’s adviser on ministerial standards at the time, Sir Alex Allan, had found the home secretary had breached the ministerial code with behaviour that amounted to bullying.
Mr Johnson overruled, saying the code hadn’t been broken and she could keep her job.
Ms Patel issued an “unreserved apology to anybody who has been upset by anything that has taken place”.
Names to keep an eye on
Another potential candidate is Penny Mordaunt, who was sacked as defence secretary when Mr Johnson came to power.
Having kept a relatively low profile since returning to government as an international trade minister, she is nonetheless seen as ambitious and is popular with Tory MPs.
Ms Mordaunt, who is seen by some as a possible dark horse of a future leadership contest, has said she was “shocked at the stupidity of what has taken place” in Downing Street with regards to the partygate row.