Liz Truss’s resignation after her short-lived tenure as prime minister has left a vacancy for the top job in the UK government.
Due to be completed within a week, this will be the second leadership contest the UK has seen this year following the resignation of Boris Johnson in July.
Here are the possible runners and riders for the next Conservative Party leader.
Mr Sunak was defeated by Ms Truss in the race to become the new prime minister last month, gathering 60,399 votes to her 81,326.
He was Chancellor of the Exchequer until 5 July when he quit in protest at Boris Johnson’s leadership.
In the last leadership campaign, he positioned himself as the candidate prepared to tell hard truths about the state of the public finances rather than “comforting fairy tales”.
Tory MP Steve Double said his party should unite behind a candidate such as Mr Sunak.
Speaking before Ms Truss announced her resignation, Mr Double said: “Rishi Sunak’s predictions about the disastrous consequences of Liz Truss’s policies have been proven right. We now need someone like him to step up to show that they can get a grip on the situation and lead from the front.”
Leader of the House of CommonsnPenny Mordaunt said she would “keep calm and carry on” and encouraged others to do the same in the wake of the latest resignation.
Ms Mordaunt is a former trade minister, with Cabinet experience in the defence and international development briefs, and also ran to replace Boris Johnson.
During that campaign, Ms Mordaunt said leadership “needs to become a little less about the leader and a lot more about the ship”.
She came third in the race, narrowly missing out on a place in the head-to-head phase, in which she backed Ms Truss over Mr Sunak.
The question remains to be seen whether the former Prime Minister could return to power.
Just a few hours before Ms Truss’ resignation, close ally to Mr Johnson Nadine Dorries tweeted her support for him.
She wrote: “One person was elected by the British public with a manifesto and a mandate until January ’25. If Liz Truss is no longer PM there can be no coronation of previously failed candidates. MPs must demand return of @BorisJohnson – if not it has to be leadership election or a GE.”
Mr Johnson very reluctantly left Downing Street in July saying: “I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world, but them’s the breaks.”
At the time, he spoke about how he had been unsuccessful in trying to persuade his colleagues that it would be “eccentric to change governments”.
The former equalities minister ran in the summer leadership contest saying that she wanted lower taxes and rule a “limited government” that focuses on the essentials.
She appeared to be targeting the anti-woke vote, complaining about “the shutting down of debate” and stressing the need to “reinvigorate the case for free speech”.
The ex-chancellor and health secretary ran during the last leadership campaign over the summer, saying he would scrap the National Insurance rise and cut corporation tax to 15%.
Downing Street sources in recent days have dismissed suggestions Ms Truss had considered him to be her replacement chancellor.
Before the resignation, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “You know the Prime Minister takes this very seriously. She thinks it’s very important to treat Parliamentary colleagues courteously.”
The official added that Ms Truss worked for years with Mr Javid and has “deep respect” for him.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is a popular figure within the Conservative Party but has previously insisted he wants to remain in his current job.
Mr Wallace said he wanted people to “stop playing political parlour games”.
He told the Times earlier this week: “The public wants stability and security and if the Government fails to deliver that then they will send us into opposition.”
Asked if he wanted to be prime minister at that stage, he said: “I want to be the Secretary of State for Defence until I finish. I love the job I do and we have more to do”.
She resigned as Home Secretary just a day ahead of Ms Truss’ resignation, with a scathing letter, lashing out at the prime minister’s “tumultuous” premiership and accusing the government of “breaking key pledges” including on immigration policy.
The former attorney general ran in the last leadership race to replace Mr Johnson, promising “rapid and large tax cuts”.
She said she would suspend net-zero targets to deal with the energy crisis and pull the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Appointed Home Secretary in the wake of Ms Braverman’s resignation yesterday, Mr Shapps was transport secretary during the pandemic and ran in the last leadership election.
He was among the candidates promising tax cuts, saying he would lower income tax and scrap the proposed increase in corporation tax.
He also highlighted his record as a campaigner and organiser, telling members of his party: “I can help you win your seat”.
The Education Secretary has been a long-time ally of Mr Johnson.
Speaking just before Ms Truss’s resignation, Mr Malthouse declined to answer questions about her future.
Asked if it was all over for Liz Truss as he entered the UK Cabinet office he said: “I’m going in to talk about schools.”
Those not standing in the leadership race are:
The Chancellor, and former health secretary and foreign secretary, returned to the British Cabinet in a shock appointment last week when Kwasi Kwarteng was sacked.
But soon after Ms Truss’s resignation, allies of Mr Hunt said he would not be standing for the Tory leadership.
The former Cabinet minister will not stand for the Tory leadership, allies have said.
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