State & Ceremonial

Who will The Queen appoint as her 14th Prime Minister?



Theresa May has announced her intention to leave office, saying she has no desire to continue as Prime Minister during the next stage of Brexit negotiations.

As such, a leadership contest looms in the Conservative Party and unless a General Election is called, their new leader will also receive the keys to 10 Downing Street as Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

So, who will The Queen appoint as her 14th Prime Minister? We take you through the likely runners and riders.

David Lidington – Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

One of the front-runners to become the next Prime Minister is David Lidington, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Although he doesn’t hold the most impressive job in Cabinet, he is Theresa May’s right-hand man and is effectively the Deputy Prime Minister.

Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament

Mr Lidington will have a lot of support from Conservative MPs who want a softer Brexit, and is likely to continue a lot of Mrs May’s work. However, Brexiteer MPs will be cautious of Mr Lidington due to his remain roots.

Other factors going against Mr Lidington include the fact that very few people actually know who he is. Despite being de facto Deputy Prime Minister, his public profile is minimal which may cause concern for some members of the Conservative Party.

Michael Gove – Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs

Michael Gove has held many government positions over the years, including Justice Secretary, Education Secretary, Chief Whip, and his current role of Environment Secretary. However, there is one job he has always had his eye on, but as of yet has not managed to grasp.

Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament

Mr Gove ran to become Tory leader and PM back in 2016 but failed to make it onto the ballot paper after losing out to Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom, Mrs May eventually ending up victorious with the keys to No 10.

He was one of the key campaigners for the UK to leave the European Union during the 2016 referendum, and has supporters on both sides of the leave & remain camps.

Some Brexiteers are becoming concerned that he is softening his approach to Brexit, however, he remains one of the firm favourites to succeed Mrs May.

Jeremy Hunt – Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

Jeremy Hunt also has a history of holding numerous government positions and has continuously served in Cabinet since 2010.

Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament

He was first appointed as Minister for the Olympics, and then become Health Secretary in 2012 – a position he held until 2018 when he became Foreign Secretary.

Mr Hunt voted to remain in the EU referendum but has significantly hardened his approach to Brexit over the past couple of years.

He is not popular with the British public following concerns over how he handled the NHS during his tenure as Health Secretary, a legacy that may hold him back if he applies for the top job.

Andrea Leadsom – Leader of the House of Commons

Andrea Leadsom is one of the leading Brexiteer voices in the Cabinet and was a leading figure in campaigning for the UK to leave the EU during the 2016 referendum campaign.

Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament

She is currently Leader of the House of Commons and also has experience in running the Environment Department.

Mrs Leadsom has experience of running for high office and stood against Theresa May in the 2016 leadership contest. She eventually withdrew from the race following criticism after she said she would make a better Prime Minister than Mrs May because she was a mother, and therefore had “a very real stake” in the future.

Mrs Leadsom has had numerous faux-pas since then and is unlikely to gain enough support from MPs to become PM, despite her strong advocacy for Brexit.

Sajid Javid – Secretary of State for the Home Department

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is currently leading polls to become the next PM with a -25% approval rating (yes, that is minus 25%).

Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament

Mr Javid has also held numerous government portfolios, including being Culture Secretary, Business Secretary and Communities Secretary.

Mr Javid campaigned to remain in the EU during the referendum campaign but has since supported Brexit. He is widely liked by colleagues, but various newspapers report that he will not throw his hat in the ring, and will instead support David Lidington so long as other colleagues do the same.

Nonetheless, Mr Javid is a firm favourite to become the next Prime Minister. If he does run a successful campaign, he will become the first British PM from a BAME background.

Geoffrey Cox – Attorney General

This time last year, nobody had heard the name Geoffrey Cox. Now he is one of Britain’s best known politicians after Theresa May appointed him as her Attorney General in 2018.

Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament

Like a hybrid of Bruno Tonioli and Brian Blessed, Mr Cox is one of Westminster’s most animated MPs and certainly knows how to drum up support.

He has been instrumental in Brexit negotiations as of late and has been placed in charge of negotiating the Northern Ireland backstop.

Although an outside contender, Mr Cox should not be discounted as a potential replacement PM.

Boris Johnson – Former Foreign Secretary

Another front-runner to become the next leader of the Conservative comes from outside the Cabinet. Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London and Foreign Secretary, is probably the UK’s best-known politician.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office via Flickr

With his marmite personality, Mr Johnson has always held leadership ambitions, and will almost certainly run when the position becomes vacant.

He is loved by Brexiteer MPs but is equally despised by remain MPs. If the next PM wants to unite the country, Mr Johnson may struggle.

Despite this, he leads the betting markets alongside his old political foe, Michael Gove.

Dominic Raab – Former Brexit Secretary

Dominic Raab was Theresa May’s 2nd Brexit Secretary but resigned last year after refusing to back the Withdrawal Agreement.

Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament

Mr Raab has held various junior ministerial positions in the past, but his role as Brexit Secretary was his first time in Cabinet.

His relative inexperience may hinder him if he hopes to become PM, but he will likely gain the support of Brexiteer colleagues.

Jeremy Corbyn – Her Majesty’s Leader of the Opposition

Of course, this list assumes that the next Prime Minister will be a Conservative. This will be the case so long as a General Election is not called, as the next one is not due to happen until 2022.

Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament

If however, an election is called, it will be down to the British public to elect the next Prime Minister, not just Conservative Party members.

With Parliament in deadlock, it is looking probable that MPs will have no choice but to hold an early election.