Speculation over the next contenders that will replace Boris Johnson continues to mount, all the more so after it came out that the prime minister is facing a police interview over the revelries that were held on Downing Street. The uncertainty over Mr Johnson’s feature as growing, and whether he will be removed from office or will resign are only some of the pending questions. No matter the case, the battle to succeed the current prime minister is already on, and the names of Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, the prime minister’s top lieutenants, stand on top of the list of contenders.
The political turbulence at Westminster, along with the growing resentment in the ranks of the Conservative Party, make the early departure of Mr Johnson seem inevitable, and bookmakers have already started accepting bets on who will assume the office of prime minister. Bookmakers agree that the most likely candidates to take the place of Mr Johnson are Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.
Seeing the incumbent prime minister stumble down is not out of the question, and the Chancellor for the Exchequer and the Foreign Secretary look determined to continue scooping out supporters, in case this happens. Whether the reports of Mr Johnson’s removal are greatly exaggerated, and what the chances of Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to oust him are some of the questions we will address.
What Will Happen If Boris Johnson Resigns
Whether Mr. Johnson’s departure as Prime Minister is around the corner is a question most people are busy with these days. Bookmakers say that the most likely candidates to replace Mr Johnson are Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, and as it seems, their leadership campaigns are already underway. What makes the rivalry between them all the more intriguing and intense, however, is that both of the top contenders target the same base from the Conservative Party since today, there are not such big dividing lines as a few years ago.
In order for Truss or Sunak to become a successor of the incumbent prime minister, they should first draw support from their party. Mr Johnson can be brought down, provided that at least 15% of the Conservative MPs want to trigger a vote of no-confidence. Then, if the vote receives a majority, the prime minister can be removed from office, and his wannabe successors will then be allowed to put their names forward. The list of contenders will be trimmed down during a series of MPs votes until the choice is boiled down to just two candidates who want to take up the place of the current British prime minister.
As Liz Truss overtakes Rishi Sunak as the favourite in potential leadership race, @TheSpurrShow asks: Who would you like to see become our new leader? pic.twitter.com/BEu5gjymrq
— LBC (@LBC) December 28, 2021
The contenders who mean business about the position need to go out of their way to get the support of their fellow MPs as the wider party membership will then pick one of the two candidates.
Even though Truss and Sunak are yet to throw their hats in the ring, apparently, they have already started playing the long game. That being said, rumours say that, although not openly, both of them are revving up and have begun taking soundings.
Rishi Sunak is regarded as an effective chancellor, but it cannot be said for sure whether he can do better and outreach his election lot from 2015 or 2017. When compared to Truss, Sunak speaks more about policy, which might serve as the impetus he needs to get the needed support. In spite of his lack of experience, Sunak’s work during the pandemic made him one of the best-known political figures in the UK, so much so that he left Boris Johnson behind in terms of rating.
We’re investing a record £39bn in health and social care over the next three years.
Today, Prime Minister @BorisJohnson and I visited @MTWnhs Oncology Centre to see how this investment will allow us to deal with COVID backlogs and make sure patients get the treatment they need. pic.twitter.com/U9bsHGVlrV
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) February 7, 2022
His attempts to improve his popularity have not gone unnoticed, and many of his colleagues were quick to note that Sunak is auditioning for prime minister. He is also among the biggest critics of the spiking tax rates and the lockdown measures.
At the end of the day, the chances of both wannabe leaders to replace Mr Johnson seems to be divided down the middle, which is to say that if they ultimately become the two finalists, everything will be decided down to the wire. There are also MPs that suggest Mr Johson is looking to turn the rivalry between Truss and Sunak to his advantage and point out that the side-by-side race might help him.
Who the Favorite to Become the Next Prime Minister Is
There is no shortage of contenders in the running for Mr Johnson’s position, and this does not only apply to Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.
Truss is working on the leadership, and unlike her rival, she is considered one of Boris Johnson’s most experienced ministers. Liz Truss has been part of the Cabinet from 2014 onwards and has been serving when David Cameron and Thersa May were head of government.
In spite of the fact that in the early years of her career, her work did not get unanimous approval, she got a second wind, and last year, she even became the highest-rated minister. Back in 2019, Truss was appointed Minister for Women and Equalities, and since 2021, she has been serving as a Foreign Secretary. Additionally, Truss is now spearheading the talks over the post-Brexit trade arrangements with the European Union. It is safe to say that Truss has a lot on her plate, which, in the view of some of her colleagues, make her more likely to trip up.
In spite of the leadership ambitions of Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, they are by no means the only wannabe successors of Mr Johnson if he ultimately falters. The names of Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt, and Health Secretary Sajid Javid should also be considered while discussing the would-be contenders to take the place of the unseated prime minister. It is interesting to point out that Penny Mordaunt attracts a lot of betting action, and the share of punters who place bets on her is significantly higher when compared to the betting action the other contenders enjoy.
Another member of the Conservative Party who is expected to enter the race for Mr Johnson’s position is Jeremy Hunt. The former Health Secretary, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and incumbent chairman of the health and social care committee has racked up a wealth of experience and is expected to try to even the score after he was defeated by Mr Johnson back in 2019 during the Conservative leadership contest. Yet, it is still unclear whether he will succeed in building up the needed support base.
Although Boris Johnson’s future is rather unpredictable, the contenders that want to get their bid to take up his place are not thin on the ground. His attempts to save his premiership are not expected to bring the desired results, all the more so after the revelations about the parties that have taken place at the height of the pandemic. No one can say for sure how things will pan out and whether Mr Johnson’s tenure will be interrupted, especially after the publication of Sue Gray’s report.
Sue Gray report on Downing Street party allegations sent to PM https://t.co/0CAQgNRKgu
— The Guardian (@guardian) January 31, 2022
The odds that Rishi Sunak will take up the place of Mr Johnson narrowed after the disclosures made about the gathering that took place after the introduction of the strict measures.
The odds of Liz Truss being named the next prime minister of the UK have seen a significant change over the past few weeks. The Foreign Secretary’s chances to become the next prime minister have shortened dramatically from 11.00 to 6.00.
With other bookies, the difference in odds for the Foreign Secretary and the Chancellor for the Exchequer is significantly reduced. According to most bookmakers, former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is also among the front runners, and he is closely followed by Keir Starmer.
The Minister for Intergovernmental Relations since 2021, Michael Gove, is also being touted as a possible successor of Boris Johnson. It appears that he does not have such an edge as Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, as the odds for Michael Gove to become the next prime minister are currently 13.00.
The lion’s share of the bookies is in the same mind that Boris Johnson will stand down by the end of this year. What makes more and more bookies think that Mr Johnson will be pushed out of office by the end of this year are the letters of no confidence that come from all parts of the political spectrum. The odds were slashed also after Rishi Sunak chose not to back the incumbent head of the Government.
That being said, there are also bookies that say that Mr Johnson will see out 2022, but Rishi Sunak will take his place as leader of the Conservative Party. Some bookmakers say that Brits might not see a change of the guard in spite of the votes of no confidence, but it seems highly unlikely that Mr Johnson will retain his seat after the next elections.
Polls show that the share of people who think that Mr Johnson should step down continues to see a significant increase. Another thing to take into account is that Labor is taking up the running in London, while the Tories follow with a difference of more than 30 points.
The race has started to pick up steam, and Sunak and Truss, who are widely regarded as the possible successors of the prime minister, are determined to remain on the safe side and focus on the pressing tasks both of them already have in their hands.
Can Liz Truss Win the Battle for Boris Johnson’s Place
The revelations about the parties that took place on Downing Street and became known as Partygate saw Mr Johnson’s approval rating plummet but calls for him to resign started coming not only from voters but from his colleagues as well. This is not the case with Liz Truss, who gets the approval of more and more of her colleagues and voters.
She is largely seen as the person who can solve all issues the Conservatives are currently facing, and her standing in the party has significantly evolved throughout the years. Back in 2014, when Truss was appointed Environment Secretary during the Cabinet reshuffles of Theresa May, she went viral after a joke she made about cheese exports. Her joke made many people consider her an unserious politician, and things continued not to turn out that well for Truss when she became Justice Secretary. As a result of the rift with the judiciary, the political stock of Truss was at rock bottom.
Back in 2017, Truss almost seemed on her way out after the surprising result of the 2017 General Election, when the Conservative Party won 42.4% of the votes but lost 13 seats. As a result, Theresa May decided to demote Truss and appoint her a Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
In spite of all these, Truss kept on building up her standing among the Tories, and as therefore, the contenders in the 2019 Conservative leadership election were seeking her backing. Back then, she became the first sitting cabinet minister to endorse Boris Johnson’s bid to become the leader of the party. Perhaps, in order to express his gratitude toward Truss, Mr Johnson appointed her International Trade Secretary. While being in that position, the wannabe successor of Mr Johnson dedicated her efforts to guarantee post-Brexit trade deals, thus leaving her mark on her colleagues.
Truss did not stop working her way to the top posts, and as it seems, her tenancy as an International Trade Secretary was largely seen as her jumping-off place to a promotion. Although she was initially lambasted for the Conservative conference speech in 2014, in 2021, Truss took the place of Dominic Raab, thus becoming the first female Conservative foreign secretary.
When Truss became a lead negotiator, some saw in this move the attempts of Boris Johnson to restrain the leadership ambitions she might have. Yet, no matter what Mr Johnson’s motives were, the commitment of Truss to cope with the difficult situation and renegotiate the deal, which is also known as the protocol, did not go unnoticed.
The makeover of Liz Truss’ stance on Brexit is yet another thing to pay close attention to. Back in 2016, when the European Union membership referendum was held, Truss was a firm supporter of the idea to remain, while now, she is a committed Brexiteer.
In fact, many people draw a parallel between Truss and Mr Johnson, but whether the similarities in their stances will work to her advantage or not is yet to be seen. That being said, Truss is indeed one of the wannabe prime ministers that should not be set little store by.
Liz Truss’ Approval Rating
Today, Liz Truss is one of the key figures in the rankings of the Conservative Party, and last year, she was even voted the top minister in the Cabinet of Boris Johnson. Back then, she was in the lead for eight months straight, while Mr Johnson’s stock had plummeted by more than 36 points.
Liz Truss had an edge over Rishi Sunak almost throughout the whole year, and while in December 2020 she was around 4 points ahead of him, in December 2021, the difference jumped to 15 points. Figures show that Truss’ approval rating started to rise sharply at the end of the Brexit transition period. In spite of this, some of her colleagues still consider that her success is rather fleeting, and her achievements are unlikely to attract a wider electorate. There are also people who underrate her contribution towards the deals and agreements with Australia, for example and say that she has simply chosen to claim the credit.
Good to see Liz wouldn’t dream of failing to uphold an International Agreement…. (negotiated, voted & ratified by her Government) #LizTruss https://t.co/bULuOXAeuX
— Marcella (@CellaH26) February 15, 2022
Since Liz Truss is already among the names in the frame, her name recognition and popularity among the public should also be considered. Figures for the last quarter of 2021 show that Rishi Sunak was the most popular Conservative Party politician, while Truss was well behind him. Today, she is liked by around 18% of Brits, while those who disapprove of her are around 23%.
According to the polling of Tory Party members, the net satisfaction rating of Liz Truss for January 2022 has shrunk from 74 to 67 points. It is also worth mentioning that Rishi Sunak reached an all-time low rate while being a Chancellor as he scored at 39 points, and as it seems, this substantial difference might be caused by the spiking taxes.
Just for the means of comparison, figures for December show that Liz Truss was on top again with 73 points, while Rishi Sunak scored 48 points. As for the satisfaction ratings of Truss and Sunak for November, Truss celebrated a year at the top with 82 points, while Sunak got 53 points.
How has Truss’ popularity changed between 2020 and 2021
Q4 2020Q1 2021Q2 2021Q3 2021Q4 202111%13%15%11%18%
According to the polling of Tory Party members about the next leader of the Conservative Party, Liz Truss takes the lead with 33%, while Rishi Sunak comes second with 25%. Penny Mordaunt ranks third as now, she is on 13%. Tom Tugendhat and Jeremy Hunt, who are also among the wannabe successor of Mr Johnson as leader of the party, did not succeed in going over the 10% threshold.
According to another survey, which was conducted among the Tory members about who should take the place of Boris Johnson if he ultimately steps down, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are the two contenders that go well ahead of the other candidates that have ambitions for the position. Rishi Sunak comes top with 33%, and he is closely followed by Liz Truss who gets 25% of the vote.
Figures show that Liz Truss gets more approval from Brexit voters than Rishi Sunak. In spite of the fact that Sunak endorsed the idea that the UK should leave the EU back in 2016, he gets wider support from Tory members who voted to remain. Truss gets more approval from men than from women, while Sunak enjoys great popularity among Tory members from Wales and Scotland.
Rishi Sunak33%Liz Truss25%Jeremy Hunt8%Michael Gove6%Sajid Javid5%Priti Patel4%Dominic Raab4%
A survey was also carried out about whether Liz Truss will perform better as a leader of the Conservative Party than Boris Johnson. While 39% of voters think that Truss will do better, the share of people who think that her work will go downhill is 22%.
Would Liz Truss Be a Better Tory Leader than Boris Johnson?BetterWorseSame39%22%27%
Will Liz Truss Become the Next Prime Minister Betting Odds
The two candidates that have been heavily in the spotlight are Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, and they have been level-pegging in the competition for the leadership of the Conservative Party and the position of a prime minister of the UK for quite a while. After Mr Jonson’s feature as a leader was put into question, bookies say that should a vacancy arise, Sunak or the longest continuously-serving Cabinet minister Liz Truss are the top candidates who are expected to replace him and become head of the Government.
To the envy of her colleagues, Truss is almost invariably first in the popularity rankings of the Conservative Party. Her popularity among her colleagues from the Conservative Party, especially the grassroots, should not be underrated, and, as it seems, there are already MPs that have voiced their approval for Truss to stand at the head of the party.
What Bookmakers Say about the Next Conservative Leader
Next Conservative Leader after Boris JohnsonRishi Sunak Liz TrussJeremy Hunt Tom TugendhatPenny MordauntSajid Javid2.636.007.008.0010.0015.00
Next Permanent Conservative LeaderRishi SunakLiz TrussJeremy Hunt Tom TugendhatPenny MordauntMichael GoveSajid JavidBen WallacePriti PatelSteve Baker2.006.008.008.0010.0019.0019.0021.0026.0029.00
Next Conservative Leader after Boris JohnsonRishi Sunak Liz TrussJeremy Hunt Tom TugendhatPenny MordauntSajid JavidMichael GoveBen WallaceNadhim ZahawiDominic Raab2.636.007.008.0010.0015.0015.0017.0021.0026.00
Next Conservative LeaderRishi Sunak Liz TrussTom TugendhatJeremy Hunt Penny MordauntSajid JavidMichael GoveDominic Raab Ben WallacePriti Patel 2.56.007.008.0011.0015.0015.0021.0029.0029.00
Next leader of the Conservative Party (after Boris Johnson)Rishi Sunak Liz TrussJeremy Hunt Keir StarmerTom Tugendhat2.256.008.008.008.00
Next Conservative LeaderRishi SunakLiz TrussTom TugendhatJeremy Hunt Penny MordauntSajid JavidMichael GoveSteve Baker Dominic RaabPriti Patel 2.506.007.507.5011.0017.0019.0026.0029.0031.00
Next Conservative LeaderRishi Sunak Liz TrussJeremy Hunt Tom TugendhatPenny MordauntSajid JavidMichael GoveSteve BakerDominic RaabPriti Patel 2.507.007.507.5011.0017.0019.0026.0031.0041.00
Next Permanent Conservative Party LeaderRishi Sunak Liz TrussJeremy Hunt Penny MordauntTom TugendhatSajid JavidMichael GoveBen WallaceSteve Baker Dominic Raab 2.606.508.2510.508.5017.0017.0021.0030.0031.00
Next Permanent Conservative LeaderRishi SunakLiz TrussTom TugendhatJeremy Hunt Penny MordauntSajid JavidBen WallaceMichael GoveNadhim ZahawiDominic Raab2.507.008.009.0011.0017.0021.0021.0026.0029.00
Next Permanent Leader after Boris JohnsonRishi SunakLiz TrussJeremy Hunt Tom TugendhatPenny MordauntSajid JavidMichael GoveDominic RaabBen WallaceSteve Baker 2.506.509.0010.0011.0015.0017.0021.0026.0028.00
Side-by-side Comparison of the Odds for Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to Become the Next Prime Minister
Paddy PowerWilliam HillSky BetBetfairBetVictorUnibetMansionBet10betNovibetBetwayLadbrokes22betLiz Truss7.007.507.007.007.007.007.007.004.336.508.006.00Rishi Sunak188.8.131.522.502.382.252.502.503.252.502.632.24
*Odds may vary from the date of writing
**This information is provided for informative purposes only and does not promote gambling activities
Harry Evans is a long-year journalist with a passion for poker. Apart from a good game of poker, he loves to write which is why he spent several years as an editor of a local news magazine.