Ex-London mayor Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Theresa May have emerged as the clear favorites to succeed David Cameron after he resigned as prime minister on Friday, having failed to keep Britain in the EU.
As a prominent Brexiteer, Johnson was first to lay the groundwork for a leadership bid.
In a comment piece for the Telegraph, he explained his views on Brexit. He urged the UK to “pursue actively the one-nation policies that are among David Cameron’s fine legacy, such as his campaigns on the living wage and life chances.”
He also dismissed talk of a second referendum, while accepting the vote had been narrow.
His closest rival seems to be Home Secretary Theresa May. She has emerged as the party’s best chance in a ‘Stop Boris’ campaign.
May is reportedly squaring up as the candidate able to secure the best deal from Brussels in the wake of Brexit.
She is expected to argue her track record of winning tough negotiations with the EU is far better than Johnson’s thanks to her experience as home secretary.
May, who is expected to announce her bid on Thursday, is also keen to see the UK quit the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Her campaign is very likely to win the endorsement of Cameron loyalists who appear set on an “anybody but Boris” strategy.
May backed ‘Remain’ but was not heavily involved in the campaign. Senior MPs say it would be hard for a ‘Remain’ campaigner to take the helm after Cameron.
“It would be very, very difficult” for a Brexit-voting public to back a Remain PM, former Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith told the Daily Mail on Monday.
Other Tories who are tempted to throw their hat into the ring include former Defense Secretary Liam Fox and Duncan Smith’s successor Stephen Crabb.
Crabb would reportedly run as a working class, social justice candidate.