IIt’s not essential that Tory MPs have an obvious replacement for Boris Johnson before deciding whether to defend him – but it certainly helps. So who are the backbenchers for?
Liz truss is the name that tends to be the first on people’s lips. The Foreign Secretary is the longest-serving minister in government and has worked hard to gain the support of his colleagues, offering Members of Parliament chic dinners at the exclusive private club at 5 Hertford Street.
But while she would be popular among the newer ones, Ms Truss struggled to find a place for herself among some of her longtime colleagues. Likewise, while she has been at the top of ConHome’s ministerial rankings for over a year, her wider fit is limited, with a recent poll suggesting that around half of Britons have no idea who she is.
Rishi Sunak, another name frequently mentioned as a leadership contestant, has seen its popularity drop amid heavy spending and rising taxes. While he’s arguably caused a stir on social media, MPs say he hasn’t courted them enough to build a strong support group among backbenchers.
Matt hancock he is said to want his chances, but that seems unlikely given that his disgrace is still on the mind.
And with great concern about the current government, MPs might look for options further, with Jeremy hunt – who ran against Mr Johnson in 2019 – considered a sure and experienced pair of hands who have had a ‘good’ pandemic.
Tom tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, could be a generic option. He won praise for his speeches during the withdrawal from Afghanistan and is no fan of the prime minister – potentially offering an antidote to the poison many fear in the party.