Liz Truss vs Rishi Sunak: Who will replace Boris Johnson?

Douglas Ross calls for Boris Johnson to resign over party scandal

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Boris Johnson admitted on Wednesday to breaking lockdown rules and attending a Downing Street drinks party while thousands were dying in hospital from COVID-19. Senior Tories, opposition parties and members of the public are all furious with the Prime Minister for brazenly claiming the party was “technically” within the rules, and put the blame on the British public for failing to see it that way.

While the Prime Minister managed to utter a “heartfelt” apology in the House of Commons today, Mr Johnson is still on the brink of being forced out of office.

If the scandal does spell the end of Boris, there are several Tories in waiting to replace him.

Liz Truss has recently become a darling of grassroots Tory voters and Brexiteers, first gaining popularity for her aptitude of sealing post-Brexit trade deals as International Secretary.

Now promoted to the Foreign Office, Ms Truss could make for a healthy replacement for Mr Johnson due to her popularity, and could steer supporters dismayed at his actions back into the fold.

READ MORE: Downing Street party: Three things Boris Johnson must explain

However, outside of Tory circles, Ms Truss has little pulling power – her recent promotion has elevated her status, but she is not a household name like Priti Patel or Michael Gove.

But one particular long-standing frontrunner could be in the way of Ms Truss making the jump to Prime Minister.

Rishi Sunak is yet to come out and defend the Prime Minister for his appearance at the Downing Street party on May 20, and could be wanting to avoid supporting or disavowing a Prime Minister he is likely to replace.

Mr Sunak only entered the Commons in 2015, and an ascent to prime minister would be uncharacteristically rapid for a politician, something that could be a source of contention for Tory MPs and voters, and choosing him to replace Mr Johnson could be more of an act of hope than guaranteed success.

Matthew Shaddick from Smarkets told Express.co.uk: “Boris Johnson’s position seemed to have been improving since the turn of the year but the latest round of partygate stories has seen his chance of seeing out the year as PM drop back down to the lows seen after the Tories’ loss in North Shropshire last month.

“The race to succeed Johnson as Tory leader now has two clear frontrunners in Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.

“Not much more than a year ago, Truss was an 80/1 chance, but Smarkets users now make the Foreign Secretary around a 20 percent chance of taking over at the top.

“With the Conservatives now trailing in the polls, the latest market prices on the next general election suggest there is a 50 percent chance of a hung parliament.

“The Conservatives remain favourites to win most seats at 60 percent but the prospect of them retaining a majority has fallen from 50 percent last summer to just 35 percent today.”

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How would the Prime Minister be replaced?

There are several ways a Prime Minister can be taken out of office without a general election.

A vote of no confidence is the most straightforward way the Prime Minister could be taken out of office – and only 15 percent of Tory MPs are needed to get the ball rolling.

If a vote is triggered, a secret ballot of MPs is organised by the influential 1922 Committee.

Should Mr Johnson gain the support of at least half of his party, which would be 180 MPs, then he would remain in office.

A more sinister removal of the Prime Minister could arrive in the form of Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1992 committee.

A behind doors meeting between the prime minister and Sir Graham has happened before – his visit to Theresa May in 2019 sparked her resignation.

Should Mr Johnson choose to resign in the same way Ms May did, a leadership contest will be triggered – and contenders like Mr Sunak and Ms Truss could make their bid for party leader.

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