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Boris the Throne Shaker and the UK PM's Other Tory 'Friends' Who May Replace Her

© AFP 2023 / Matt DunhamBritain's Prime Minister Theresa May
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May - Sputnik International
They say a week is a long time in politics, and in the case of UK PM Theresa May, the sands are now shifting on an almost hourly basis. Following an article by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson that many interpreted as bid for leadership, May's position came into spotlight, with a number of Tory politicians potentially ready to replace her.

Once more the knives are being sharpened, as the embittered British premier fights for her political life by attempting to rebuke Boris Johnson's vision of post-Brexit Britain, as well as rein in her growing army of critics ahead of a keynote Brexit speech in Florence, Italy, on Friday, September 22.

Whether Theresa May will actually survive long enough to stand at the rostrum is, in itself, now being debated and the names of potential leadership candidates are being banded about.

So who are the current Tory leadership candidates who could replace the current PM, weakened by the loss of a parliamentary majority?

Boris Johnson

A brawl between May and Johnson over a 4,000 word article on his vision of post-Brexit Britain ensued after he decided to publish it ahead of May's keynote address.

Among Johnson's arguments was the belief that there is no need for Britain to continue pumping cash into the Brussels budget after the UK quits the bloc in March 2019.

© REUTERS / Alkis KonstantinidisBritish Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - Sputnik International
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson

Mr. Johnson sought to downplay the intervention, and when asked by reporters if he planned to resign, if his Brexit demands were not met by the PM, he said:

"No… Of course not, we're going to deliver a fantastic Brexit. We're working together, and the key thing is to make sure Britain can take advantage of the opportunities that Brexit provides." 

Theresa May has also insisted that she is still "driving from the front" in a bid to reassert her authority by strengthening her grip over forthcoming Brexit negotiations.

However, Johnson has never made a secret of his continued desire to be prime minister despite having failed last year in an attempted leadership coup after the Tories disastrous performance at the 2017 general election

May and Johnson seemingly made up, but it doesn't mean Boris's political ambitions have been permanently suppressed. The possibility of Mrs. May getting toppled from her shaky throne remains strong. 

Amber Rudd

Rudd has enjoyed a rapid rise through the ranks before being appointed as Home Secretary, a role in which she has been seriously tested in recent times following terror attacks in the UK. 

© AFP 2023 / BEN STANSALLUK Home Secretary Amber Rudd
UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd - Sputnik International
UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd

As Home Secretary Amber Rudd has spoken out strongly in demanding the world's largest Internet companies increase their activities in tackling extremism content placed on their platforms.

Addressing a Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, she argued: "Terrorists and extremists have sought to misuse your platforms to spread their hateful messages. The responsibility for tackling this threat at every level lies with both governments and with industry."

Rudd has forged a reputation of a strong-headed politician when it comes to immigration

Phillip Hammond

A much fancied dark horse in any potential leadership battle, the Chancellor is viewed by many within the Tory hierarchy as a "safe pair of hands," having successfully steered the economy towards growth.

Rumored to disagree on a number of issues with Mrs. May over Britain's EU exit, he has voiced his opinions but largely within the confines of the cabinet office and not in public.

Hammond has recently argued strongly for a lengthy Brexit transitional period, to the delight of pro-Europeans. Earlier this summer he hinted that he was considering an arrangement that would in effect keep the UK in the customs union, and therefore unable to sign bilateral trade deals with non-EU countries, for the period between Brexit and the final settlement coming into force.

Clearly not afraid to fight his corner, the Chancellor has previously admitted he has "occasionally sworn" at the prime minister's aides, after claims of angry clashes over economic policy.

© REUTERS / Ruben SprichPhilip Hammond, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 20, 2017
Philip Hammond, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 20, 2017 - Sputnik International
Philip Hammond, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 20, 2017

He fought with Theresa May's closest advisers over proposals on tax and energy prices, sparking reports he could be axed by the premier in any future cabinet reshuffle.

Speaking recently, he said: "I am not going to say that I have never occasionally sworn, but I work extremely well and closely with Theresa May's team."

David Davis 

The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Davis, still leads the pack of potential contenders, but drops from 24 percent to 20 percent, according to a recent survey carried out by the Conservative Party faithful ConservativeHome.

© Photo : Hannah McKayBritain's Secretary of State for leaving the EU David Davis speaks at the Prosperity UK 2017 conference in London, April 26, 2017
Britain's Secretary of State for leaving the EU David Davis speaks at the Prosperity UK 2017 conference in London, April 26, 2017 - Sputnik International
Britain's Secretary of State for leaving the EU David Davis speaks at the Prosperity UK 2017 conference in London, April 26, 2017

He remains firm favorite to take over from the hapless Theresa May should the opportunity arise any time soon. The Brexit Secretary was the only Cabinet member to get into double figures.

Indeed Davis is well ahead of the field, at this stage, with the findings revealing Boris Johnson is down from 19 percent to nine percent — his lowest rating since the survey began, as far as we can see.  

Jacob Rees-Mogg

In the survey carried out by Conservative Party members, the name of Jacob Rees-Mogg featured prominently despite the fact he has not yet featured as a Cabinet member.

© Photo : Facebook, Jacob Rees-MoggJacob Rees-Mogg
Jacob Rees-Mogg - Sputnik International
Jacob Rees-Mogg

Yet his popularity among the Tory rank and file won the backing of 142 respondents which would have resulted in him coming second, behind Brexit Secretary David Davis, but sweeping in in front of the Foreign Secretary.

The Mogg phenomenon remains a force to be considered, although he has yet to reveal his political ambitions.

Tory Infighting: What Next?

As whispers gather pace within the corridors of power at Westminster, Tory MPs as well as political commentators have already begun speculating as to the possible runners and riders in the 10 Downing Street stakes.

Lord Hague, former foreign secretary, has already warned in a newspaper article how the infighting could see the Tories ousted from power if a snap general election is called. Insisting the approach of senior ministers to the Brexit negotiations appear to lack co-ordination.

"More bluntly, it is now 15 months since the referendum, and high time that all members of the government were able to express themselves on this subject in the same way as each other, putting forward the same points, as part of an agreed plan. If not, there will be no point Conservatives discussing who is going to be foreign secretary, chancellor or prime minister in the coming years, because Jeremy Corbyn will be prime minister, sitting in Number 10 with John McDonnell and Diane Abbott completely ruining this country."

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