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Tory leadership race: The top runners and riders

Here are some of the potential contenders for the job.

The race is on to become the new Conservative Party leader (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
The race is on to become the new Conservative Party leader (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Theresa May’s resignation speech effectively fired the starting gun on the official Tory leadership race.

Here are the main runners and riders vying to take on the mantle of Conservative leader by winning over Tory MPs and grassroots members.

Declared:

Boris Johnson

Former foreign secretary and London mayor Mr Johnson, 54, is considered by most as the favourite to win the leadership race (Ladbrokes 4/5).

Easily recognisable thanks to his popularity on comedy TV shows, he nearly beat Mrs May to the top job in 2016, until friend Michael Gove decided to scupper his chances.

Since then, Mr Johnson has burnished his Leave credentials by walking out of Cabinet alongside David Davis in July last year, and has also cleared the decks on a notoriously complicated personal life.

In a speech in Switzerland on Friday, he was deemed to have vowed to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 “deal or no deal” if he is made PM.

Backers include Johnny Mercer, Karl McCartney, and Nadine Dorries.

Jeremy Hunt

The Foreign Secretary, 52, campaigned for Remain in the 2016 referendum and would be a moderate candidate on Brexit in the leadership election (Ladbrokes 10/1).

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Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt campaigned for Remain in the referendum (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He battled with doctors as health secretary before being appointed Foreign Secretary in July last year, when Mr Johnson quit.

On Friday, the MP for South West Surrey reportedly told the audience at the Haslemere Festival in his constituency that he intended to run to be prime minister.

He will formally launch his prime ministerial bid this weekend, telling the Sunday Times his business background will help resolve Brexit.

David Morris said he is supporting Mr Hunt.

Rory Stewart

New International Development Secretary Rory Stewart launched his leadership bid in an interview with The Spectator last month (Paddypower odds 20/1).

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Rory Stewart was recently appointed International Development Secretary (Victoria Jones/PA)

He is known for pledging to resign from his prisons minister post if he could not get a grip on rising levels of drugs and violence in UK jails.

Mr Stewart once walked 6,000 miles from Turkey to Bangladesh, including a traverse of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

The MP for Penrith and The Border, 46, was an environment minister in Mr Cameron’s government, served in the Black Watch and as a diplomat in the Foreign Office.

Esther McVey

Former work and pensions secretary Ester McVey announced her leadership bid on Friday (Ladbrokes 50/1).

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Esther McVey announced her leadership bid while hosting an LBC call-in (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Hosting a radio call-in on LBC, Ms McVey said: “I’ll put my hands up here, I better declare an interest straight away. I have put myself forward as a future leader.”

The former television presenter-turned MP for Tatton, 51, quit Mrs May’s Cabinet in November in protest at her Brexit plan and told listeners on Friday that the UK should be prepared to leave the EU without a deal.

Backers include Pauline Latham and Ben Bradley.

Matt Hancock

Health Secretary Matt Hancock waited until Saturday morning to announce that he is in the running. (Betfred odds 50/1).

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to join the race (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The 40-year-old’s previous role as digital, culture, media and sport secretary saw him launch his own app, to some mockery, and he has pushed his digital transformation agenda hard.

Known for being close to George Osborne and David Cameron, he has said the new leader should put the Tories “four square in the centre ground”.

Backers include Maggie Throup and Bim Afolami.

Dominic Raab

Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab formally entered the Tory leadership race over the weekend with a call for a “new direction”. (Coral 5/1).

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Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab could be considering a bid (Steve Parsons/PA)

The 44-year-old MP for Esher and Walton told the Mail on Sunday he would prefer to leave the EU with a deal, but said the UK must “calmly demonstrate unflinching resolve to leave in October – at the latest”.

He also posed for a classic kitchen photo with his wife in a recent profile in the Sunday Times, showing off the family life of this son of a Czech-born Jewish father.

Mr Raab was a prominent Brexiteer in the referendum campaign and Mrs May appointed him as her second Brexit secretary in July, but he quit the role in November, saying he could not support her eventual deal.

Helen Grant has announced her support.

Andrea Leadsom

Former leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, said she was “seriously considering” running for the Conservative leadership before she quit her role on Wednesday (Betfred 12/1).

She formally entered the race over the weekend, telling the Sunday Times that if elected PM, the UK would quit the EU in October with or without a deal.

The MP for South Northamptonshire, 56, stated: “To succeed in a negotiation you have to be prepared to walk away.”

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Andrea Leadsom resigned as Commons Leader earlier this week (Victoria Jones/PA)

Ms Leadsom was Mrs May’s only rival during the 2016 leadership contest, but she withdrew after making badly-received comments about motherhood in a newspaper interview.

She has previously described the UK’s continued membership of the EU as “disgusting” and claimed that a Eurosceptic prime minister would have delivered Brexit already.

Considering bids:

Sir Graham Brady

Sir Graham Brady quit as the leader of the 1922 Committee – a position which gave him a significant role in the Prime Minister’s departure – on Friday in order to consider a leadership bid (Ladbrokes 20/1).

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Sir Graham Brady was chairman of the 1922 Committee (Victoria Jones/PA)

He told the Press Association: “I have been approached by a number of colleagues across the party both inside and outside Parliament asking me to put myself forward as a candidate.”

The MP for Altrincham and Sale West, 52, had chaired the Tory backbench committee for nearly 10 years, having held shadow cabinet positions under Mr Cameron while in opposition.

Michael Gove

Michael Gove has been working to resuscitate trust among colleagues since he wielded the knife against Mr Johnson in the previous leadership contest, despite being his campaign manager (Ladbrokes 10/1).

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Environment Secretary Michael Gove stood in the previous leadership contest in 2016 (Jonathan Brady/PA)

He withdrew his support on the morning that Mr Johnson was due to declare, and threw his own hat in the ring instead, but trailed behind ultimate winner Mrs May and Mrs Leadsom after the first round of voting.

Since then, he has made some memorable Commons appearances, notably in defence of Mrs May’s deal, and has a reputation for mastering complicated briefs.

Backers include Nick Gibb, Kevin Hollinrake, John Stevenson, Sir Edward Leigh, Bob Seely.

Penny Mordaunt

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt became the UK’s first female defence secretary at the start of the month, following the sacking of Gavin Williamson (Bet365 20/1).

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Penny Mordaunt recently took over as Defence Secretary (Victoria Jones/PA)

The 45-year-old Royal Navy reservist has been named by Jacob Rees-Mogg as one of his favoured candidates and has a higher public profile than most due to her 2014 appearance on reality TV show Splash!

MP for Portsmouth North since 2010, she supported Mrs Leadsom in the 2016 Conservative leadership contest.

Sajid Javid

Home Secretary Sajid Javid signalled his leadership ambitions by arguing that he wanted the Tories to be the party of social mobility, in an interview with the Spectator (Ladbrokes odds 20/1).

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Home Secretary Sajid Javid backed Remain in the referendum (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr Javid, 49, who backed Remain in the referendum but has since positioned himself as a firm Leaver, became the first home secretary from an ethnic minority background when he was appointed in April 2018.

The son of a Pakistani bus driver from Rochdale, he was a managing director at Deutsche Bank before becoming an MP in 2010.

Robert Halfon has announced his support.

PA

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