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This morning,  Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that he will be standing down as leader of the Conservative Party. It comes after an unprecedented amount of his ministers handed in their resignation, a move kick-started by former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who both resigned within 10 minutes of each other on Tuesday evening. They were protesting against recent reports that the PM was aware of allegations of groping made against his former Deputy Chief Whip, Chris Pincher, before he appointed him to the role. But that was just the tip of the iceberg, following the Partygate scandal and the Sue Gray report earlier this year. Now, the party will begin to look for a new leader: but who are the likely candidates?

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    Penny Mordaunt

    A former magician’s assistant and the current Minister of State for Trade Policy, Penny Mordaunt’s name has been thrown around more and more in recent weeks as a possible successor to Johnson. Currently the bookies’ favourite, she is known for being a safe pair of hands, and her former roles as both Armed Forces Minister and Defence Secretary under David Cameron will make her a favourable candidate considering the current situation in Ukraine. Fun fact: she previously appeared on ITV’s diving competition, Splash!, to raise money for charity.

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    Rishi Sunak

    The former Chancellor of the Exchequer has long been considered as a potential successor to Johnson. His ascent has been meteoric: only elected as an MP in 2015, he was little-known outside of Westminster until he was promoted to the top job at the Treasury in 2020. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he became popular for his furlough and ‘eat out to help out’ policies, and largely avoided the scandals that the rest of the cabinet became bogged down in until recently. Earlier this year, however, he was caught up in his own drama, when it was revealed that his billionaire wife was avoiding tax due to her nom-dom status, and he was also amongst those fined following Sue Gray’s report.

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    Jeremy Hunt

    One of the PM’s most vocal critics, the backbencher and former Foreign Secretary came second in a leadership contest against Johnson in 2019, so it’s very likely that he will throw his hat back in the ring again. His stance on Brexit, however, might still count against him for some members of the party, as he was a staunch Remainer.