With Theresa May’s resignation finally confirmed, these seven characters are at the moment the bookies favourites to be her replacement:
1. The Banker: Sajid Javid
Sajid’s rise to prominence has been nothing short of remarkable. Born in Rochdale to Pakistani immigrant parents, Sajid rose from humble working-class beginnings to becoming a managing director at Deutsche Bank. Despite coming from a Muslim family, Javid himself is not religious, drinks alcohol and was a proud banker- something considered erroneous to Islamic practices. He said, “My own family’s heritage is Muslim. Myself and my four brothers were brought up to believe in God, but I do not practise any religion. My wife is a practising Christian and the only religion practised in my house is Christianity.” Unfortunately for him, his cold and clinical approach to the ISIS bride saga has backfired on him when the bride’s baby died.
2. The Journalist: Boris Johnson
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was born in New York City to wealthy upper-middle class English parents, and was educated at the European School of Brussels, Ashdown House School, and Eton College. He studied Classics at Oxford, where he was elected president of the Oxford Union in 1986. He began his career in journalism at The Times but was sacked for falsifying a quotation. He later became The Daily Telegraph’s Brussels correspondent, with his articles exerting a strong influence on growing Eurosceptic sentiment among the British right-wing. He was assistant editor from 1994 to 1999 before taking the editorship of The Spectator from 1999 to 2005.
Johnson is a controversial figure in British politics and journalism. Supporters have praised him as an entertaining, humorous, and popular figure with appeal beyond traditional Conservative voters. His ambitions to become PM are no secret. Boris is the paternal grandson of Ali Kemal Bey (1867 – 6 November 1922), an Ottoman journalist, newspaper editor, poet and politician of liberal signature.
3. The Journalist: Michael Gove
Born in Edinburgh, Gove was raised in Aberdeen and attended Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where he took a BA in English, graduating with an upper second, after which he began his career as a journalist. At its 2013 conference, Gove was criticised by the National Association of Head Teachers, whose members condemned the “climate of bullying, fear and intimidation” they said he had created during his time as Education Secretary, and passed a vote of no confidence in his policies.
Votes of no confidence were passed by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, National Union of Teachers and NASUWT at their conferences in 2013. Gove, who was campaign manager for Boris Johnson’s drive to become Prime Minister, withdrew his support on the morning that Johnson was due to declare, and announced his own candidacy in the leadership election. For this move alone he is considered disloyal and snakelike.
4. The Lawyer: Dominic Raab
A relative new-comer on the scene, Raab grew up in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, the son of a Czech-born Jewish father who came to Britain in 1938 aged six, as a refugee from the Nazis. Through his mother’s influence he was brought up in the Church of England. Raab attended Dr Challoner’s Grammar School in Amersham before going up to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where he read Law, and won the Clive Parry Prize for International Law. After graduating, he gained a master’s degree at Jesus College, Cambridge. Raab was initially a solicitor at Linklaters in London.
In 2000, Raab joined the Foreign Office, covering a range of briefs including leading a team at the British Embassy in The Hague, dedicated to bringing war criminals to justice. After returning to London, he advised on the Arab–Israeli conflict, the European Union, and Gibraltar. From 2006 to 2010, Raab worked in Parliament as Chief of Staff to Shadow Home Secretary David Davis and to Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Dominic Grieve. Raab is married to Erika Rey, a Brazilian marketing executive who works for Google.
5. The Consultant: Jeremy Hunt
Jeremy Hunt was born in Kennington, the eldest son of Admiral Sir Nicholas Hunt, who was then a Commander in the Royal Navy assigned to work for the Director of Naval Plans inside the recently created Ministry of Defence, and his wife Meriel Eve née Givan (now Lady Hunt), daughter of Major Henry Cooke Givan. Hunt is a descendant of Streynsham Master, a pioneer of the East India Company, one of the most controversial (and the first) corporations in history due to their opium trading practices and in-house military. Hunt was educated at Charterhouse School where he was Head Boy. He then studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Magdalen College, Oxford, and graduated with a first class honours Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree. He became involved in Conservative politics while at university, where David Cameron and Boris Johnson were contemporaries.
After university Hunt worked for two years as a management consultant at OC&C Strategy Consultants, and then became an English language teacher in Japan. On his return to Britain he tried his hand at a number of different entrepreneurial business ventures, including a failed attempt to export marmalade to Japan. In 1991, Hunt co-founded a public relations agency named Profile PR specialising in IT with Mike Elms, a childhood friend. Hunt and Elms later sold their interest in Profile PR to concentrate on directory publishing. Together they founded a company known as Hotcourses in the 1990s, a major client of which is the British Council. Hunt stood down as director of the company in 2009, however still retained 48% of the shares in the company which were held in a blind trust, before Hotcourses was sold in January 2017 for over £30 million to Australian education organisation IDP Education. He personally gained over £14 million from the sale.
His wife is Lucia Guo, and comes from Xi’an in China. She has been suspected of being a Chinese spy. Hunt speaks Japanese as he studied the language for two years while he was working in Japan as an English language teacher in the 1990s.
6. The Banker: Jacob Rees-Mogg
Rees-Mogg was born in Hammersmith, London, and educated at Eton College. He then studied History at Trinity College, Oxford, and was President of the Oxford University Conservative Association. He worked in the City of London for Lloyd George Management until 2007, then co-founded a hedge fund management business, Somerset Capital Management LLP. Rees-Mogg has amassed a significant fortune: in 2016, he and his wife had a combined net worth estimated at more than £100 million.
He is married to Helena de Chair, daughter of the late author Somerset de Chair and Lady Juliet Tadgell, who is set to inherit an estimated £45m from her mother. Their combined fortunes could then total as much as £100m–£150m. He is a practising Catholic and has six children. The nanny, Veronica, who looked after him and his siblings as a child now works for his family. She has been with the Rees-Moggs for over 50 years.
He holds the record for uttering the longest word during Parliamentary proceedings – ‘floccinaucinihilipilification’ (which means ‘the act of estimating something as worthless’).
Rees-Mogg is a controversial figure in British politics; he has been praised as a conviction politician whose anachronistic upper-class mannerisms and consciously traditionalist attitudes are often seen as entertaining, and has been dubbed the “Honourable Member for the 18th century”.
7. The Corporate: David Davis
Another working-class riser, Davies was brought up on the Aboyne Estate, a council estate in Tooting, South West London. After attending Bec Grammar School in Tooting, he went on to gain a master’s degree in business at the age of 25, and went into a career with Tate & Lyle. Having entered Parliament in 1987, at the age of 38, he was appointed Europe Minister by Prime Minister John Major in July 1994. He held that position until the 1997 general election. He subsequently was Conservative Party Chairman and Shadow Secretary of State for the Office of Deputy Prime Minister.
Davis worked for Tate & Lyle for 17 years, rising to become a senior executive, including restructuring its troubled Canadian subsidiary, Redpath Sugar. He wrote about his business experiences in the 1988 book How to Turn Round a Company.