With Theresa May having announced her resignation, you can barely move in Westminster without bumping into a minister making a “wide-ranging” speech spelling out their merits and political philosophy. Here are the candidates who have said they are definitely running and others who may enter the fray in the coming days.
The out-and-out favourite, so popular with the Tory grassroots – polling for the Times showed he is the first choice of 39% of them, with Dominic Raab trailing him on 13% – that it would be hard for MPs to not make Johnson one of the final two.
He has been relatively quiet recently, beyond his regular Telegraph column, but this is very deliberate.
Odds: 5/4 favourite
Few things say “would-be leader in waiting” like a kitchen photoshoot with your spouse, and the former Brexit secretary duly obliged with this image awash with tasteful pastel hues. He formally launched his bid in the Mail on Sunday.
Among the more core constituency of Conservative MPs, Raab has been pushing hard, as has his semi-official “Ready for Raab” Twitter feed.
The environment secretary is to pitch himself as a “unity candidate” capable of attracting leavers and remainers, as he formally declared his candidacy saying: “I believe that I’m ready to unite the Conservative and Unionist party, ready to deliver Brexit and ready to lead this great country.”
But robust Brexiters in particular dislike the fact that he stayed loyal even in the final days of the crumbling May regime.
The former House of Commons leader, who left Theresa May as the last candidate standing when she pulled out of the previous leadership race in 2016, has decided to have another tilt at the top job, saying she has the “experience and confidence” to “lead this country into a brighter future”.
But even with her staunch Brexiter tendencies, she would be seen as an outsider.
Fears that the foreign secretary would be another overly woolly compromise choice were hardly assuaged when after a set-piece speech he seemed unable to outline why his brand of Conservatism might appeal to voters.
The health secretary remains a relative outsider, but the longer the race goes on, the more he gains ground for the seemingly basic virtues of being apparently competent and broadly similar to a normal human being, albeit a particularly energetic one.
A concerted effort would probably require an image consultant.
The cabinet’s most recent arrival – Penny Mordaunt’s promotion to defence led to Stewart becoming international development secretary – certainly has the necessary ambition and self-belief, plus a privileged if unorthodox backstory covering Eton, Oxford, a senior role in postwar Iraq and a bestselling book about walking across Afghanistan.
He remains an outsider, not least because of his remain tendencies and slightly 2010 view of compassionate Conservatism.
It promises to make the party more amenable to voters in deprived communities – mainly through a promise to deliver a strong Brexit and policies such as diverting much of the foreign aid budget to schools and police.
The home secretary still has the same weaknesses: he is an uninspiring speaker and some worry he is too fond of headline-grabbing, illiberal political gestures. But he is almost as ubiquitous as Liz Truss, and clearly believes this is his time.
He even has a grassroots/astroturf Twitter feed – “Avid4Javid”.
The housing minister is credited as the convener of both Conservative leavers and remainers to develop a compromise on May’s withdrawal agreement. He said there was a “yearning for change”.
The 52-year-old is a former deputy mayor of London and entered the Commons in 2015 when David Cameron’s Conservatives won a majority.
His name was given to the “Malthouse compromise” – a proposal drawn up by backbenchers from leave and remain wings of the Tory party, which would have implemented May’s Brexit deal with the backstop replaced by alternative arrangements.
The former deputy chair of the Conservative party became the 11th contender for the top job, telling his constituents: “We cannot bring the country back together unless the party of government is united, and the party cannot unite if it is led from its fringes.
“I believe the case for Brexit is still valid, and I have not wavered in that belief. But I have never been blind to the complexities of the process and I have always been uncomfortable with those who offer artificially simple solutions.
“It would be best for the UK to leave the EU with some form of deal, and the EU must now recognise the need for flexibility as the current deal has been rejected by our parliament.”
The Forest of Dean MP is one of the less well-known names to have expressed an interest in the top job, and has odds to match. The 49-year-old worked under Theresa May as immigration minister and was behind the controversial campaign that sent vans around the country displaying the slogan: “Here illegally? Go home or risk arrest”.
His tenure was cut short after he discovered his self-employed cleaner did not have permission to work in the UK. He later became the minister for disabled people and the chief whip.
Other possible candidates
Sir Graham Brady
While hugely influential within the Conservative party, he is little known outside it. Brady stood down as the chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs shortly after May’s announcement and later confirmed that he was considering running, saying he had been approached by several Tory colleagues.
Previously seen as a definite outsider, her promotion from international development secretary to defence after the sacking of Gavin Williamson has significantly bolstered her position. As both a confirmed Brexiter and a social liberal, she could unite different camps, but Mordaunt remains relatively untested.
A not entirely serious place in the list for the housing and communities secretary, who insists he is not standing, for the achievement of gaining unexpected prominence simply through owning four ovens. Leadership bids have been made and lost on less.
The chief secretary to the Treasury has ruled herself out, but told the Sunday Telegraph: “We need someone who has backed Brexit from the start.”
The work and pensions secretary says: “I don’t think it is my time at the moment,” but has hinted she would be prepared to work with Johnson.