The five Tory leadership candidates battling to replace Boris Johnson as next prime minister

tory leadership candidates round 3
tory leadership candidates round 3

There are now five remaining candidates the race to replace Boris Johnson as Tory Party leader.

Suella Braverman was eliminated in the second round on Thursday, after Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi both crashed out on Wednesday.

Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor, commanded the support of the most Tory MPs, receiving 101 votes, with Penny Mordaunt - who polling showed has become a favourite among grassroots activists - taking second place on 83.

Here, we assess the chances of everybody still in the running. The latest odds are from SkyBet.

We will keep this article updated. 

Penny Mordaunt

Latest odds: 4/5

A woman whose rankings in recent leadership polls far outstrip her public profile, the trade minister has consistently polled as one of the top choices among Tory Party members in recent weeks, despite her relative lack of top-level experience.

Ms Mordaunt came under fire from Lord Frost, the former Brexit chief negotiator, on Thursday when he revealed his "grave reservations" about her becoming prime minister.

Citing his time working alongside her during the Brexit negotiations, when Ms Mordaunt served as his junior, Lord Frost said she "wasn't fully accountable or always visible".

Currently in her eighth ministerial role, she was international development secretary for two years and was made the first female defence secretary by Theresa May before Mr Johnson replaced her in his first Cabinet 85 days later.

Ms Mordaunt previously fought back against criticism that she is too “woke” to lead the Conservative Party as she launched her leadership campaign by insisting women “like me” cannot have a penis.

The former defence secretary, who is one of the frontrunners in the race to succeed Boris Johnson, quoted Margaret Thatcher as she toughened her stance on the trans issue.

Named after the Royal Navy ship HMS Penelope, Ms Mordaunt, 49, is the daughter of a former paratrooper, and is a Royal Navy reservist.

Writing in the Telegraph, she said that as prime minister she would help families cope with the cost of living crisis by tackling soaring inflation and falling confidence. She added that she would implement targeted tax cuts to help families, cut VAT at fuel pumps to 50 per cent and turbo-charge levelling up projects.

You can read her Telegraph interview with Allison Pearson here.

Rishi Sunak

Latest odds: 5/2

The man who helped bring down Boris Johnson by resigning as chancellor remains one of the favourites to succeed him despite the controversy earlier this year over his multi-millionaire wife’s non-dom tax status and his own curious decision to retain a US green card during much of his time at the Treasury.

His biggest hurdle might be convincing fellow MPs that his reluctance to cut taxes makes him fit to run the country, but the 42-year-old is one of the few candidates with the requisite experience and skills to step straight into the top job.

On Tuesday he won the backing of Jeremy Hunt after the former health secretary was knocked out of the race.

And on Thursday Mr Sunak insisted that he was not too rich to be Tory leader and Prime Minister, as he asked people to judge him on his actions and not his bank account.

He said that he hoped his background, which has seen him amass a fortune in the City, would serve as an inspiration.

Speaking to The Telegraph in his first campaign interview on July 12, the former chancellor pledged to model himself on Margaret Thatcher with responsible tax cuts.

Countering claims that his refusal to promise immediate tax cuts shows he is not a true conservative, Mr Sunak said that, by prioritising inflation, he was following the Iron Lady’s economic approach more than his rivals.

“We will cut taxes and we will do it responsibly,” he said. “That’s my economic approach. I would describe it as common sense Thatcherism. I believe that’s what she would have done.”

Read the full interview here. 

Liz Truss

Latest odds: 7/2

Liz Truss launched her Tory leadership bid by promising to cut tax from “day one” in office, declaring that it is time to get back to Conservative values.

In an article for The Telegraph announcing her candidacy, the Foreign Secretary signalled that she would cut corporation tax, reverse the National Insurance rise and overhaul business rates.

On Wednesday she appealed to Brexit-supporting Conservative MPs who backed Suella Braverman and Nadhim Zahawi to join her campaign to be prime minister and unite the Right.

And on Thursday night it emerged that Ms Braverman would support her, after being knocked out of the contest herself.

Ms Truss argued she could be trusted with Brexit despite voting Remain in the 2016 EU referendum as she held a launch event for her Tory leadership bid. She said: “We need to deliver Brexit and all the opportunities it offers. We need to win the fight for freedom at home and across the world.”

Liz Truss - Carl Court/Getty Images
Liz Truss - Carl Court/Getty Images

Ms Truss, 46, has been gearing up for a leadership bid for months, using last autumn’s Tory Party conference to schmooze potential backers and then running “Fizz with Liz” events at 5 Hertford Street, a private members’ club.

A tax-cutting Tory who likes to play up comparisons to Mrs Thatcher, she prefers not to mention the fact that she voted Remain in the EU referendum.

A government minister since 2012, Ms Truss is the longest continuously serving member of the Cabinet, having held four previous Cabinet posts.

You can read her Telegraph Op-Ed here.

Kemi Badenoch

Latest odds: 28/1

Ms Badenoch spent the past two-and-a-half years as an equalities minister in the Department for Levelling Up before she quit the role on July 6. Two days later, she announced her candidacy.

Speaking at her official campaign launch in Westminster, Mrs Badenoch was asked what short-term measures she would roll out to address the cost-of-living crisis.

The 42-year-old said the Government should concentrate on tackling inflation because that was “the big thing that is driving it and likely to make things worse”.

Kemi Badenoch - Jeff Gilbert
Kemi Badenoch - Jeff Gilbert

“Micro-policies” such as “giving out £50 cash here or a rebate there” were merely quick fixes that would not solve the underlying problems, she said.

Michael Gove has backed Mrs Badenoch as the next Tory leader, praising her “no bull—” approach.

Read her Telegraph interview here.

Tom Tugendhat

Latest odds: 125/1

Mr Tugendhat believes that he can turn around his fading Tory leadership hopes by outshining the rest of the field in two TV debates this week, allies have said.

The backbench MP narrowly made it through to the next round of voting on Thursday after securing 32 votes – five fewer than in the first ballot – as Suella Braverman was knocked out of the contest.

However, the former soldier has no intention of throwing in the towel, with his team insisting that he is “not going anywhere” and can revive his fortunes in the televised debates.

Tom Tugendhat - Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Tom Tugendhat - Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The chairman of the foreign affairs select committee who formally announced his leadership bid in The Telegraph, believes he can break the mould by stepping into No 10 despite having no ministerial experience.

The 49-year-old, who holds dual British and French citizenship because he has a French mother, is the son of a High Court judge and served with the Intelligence Corps as a Territorial Army lieutenant colonel from 2003 to 2013. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan and also worked as a civilian for the Foreign Office in Afghanistan.

He described the fall of Kabul in 2021 as “the biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez”. Asked what was the naughtiest thing he had ever done, he replied: "invade a country".

Speaking at his campaign launch in Westminster, Mr Tugendhat suggested he would reintroduce Labour’s four-hour waiting target for A&E and “hold NHS leaders accountable” for meeting it. He also attacked “politics that is more about personality than principle”.

Addressing the cost-of-living crisis, he said: “When the moment demanded service, we delivered scandal. This is a crisis of purpose, of leadership and of trust.”