Will Boris rule again? Next PM will have to get the support of at least 100 MPs by MONDAY to get into vote by party members after Liz Truss quits to set up battle with Rishi Sunak ‘for soul of the party’

  • Liz Truss has dramatically resigned as PM after a flood of no-confidence calls from Conservative MPs 
  • Just 44 days after taking the keys to No10 Ms Truss declared that a replacement will be chosen within a week 
  • Mini-Budget fallout caused chaos and the situation has spiralled out of control over the past few days  
  • Utter chaos was seen in the House of Commons division lobbies last night as Tories rowed over crunch vote 
  • Suella Braverman quit as Home Secretary admitting protocol breach by sending email on immigration policy 
  • Ms Truss has told the Commons yesterday: ‘I am a fighter not a quitter’ as she faced Starmer in a fierce PMQs

The battle to replace Liz Truss as Tory leader and Prime Minister roared into life today with frontrunners including Boris Johnson given the weekend to prove they are the real deal.

After Ms Truss embarrassingly quit this afternoon after a mere 44 days in power, the party announced would-be successors would need to win nominations from 100 MPs to get on the ballot.

This means that realistically a maximum of three can make it into a vote, and that there could be a simple coronation of a winner if they get far more than that.

The candidates could include the former PM, who has been backed by some MPs to run to return to power. But he remains on holiday in the Caribbean and faces a race against time to return and launch an effective campaign.

In a boost to his chances, the final two candidates will go head-to-head in a final online vote by party members next Friday. 

Mr Johnson remains popular with the Tory grassroots and could win such a vote. But it remains unclear whether he can reach the 100 threshold, or whether a figure from the Tory right could stand and risk splitting the vote. 

Sir Graham Brady said that after talks with the board of the Conservative Party and the executive of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers that he chairs, nominations begin straight away and close at 2pm on Monday.

‘We fixed a high threshold but a threshold that should be achievable by any serious candidate who has a prospect of going through,’ he told reporters outside Parliament.

Party chairman Sir Jake Berry said Conservative HQ will be working with broadcasters to arrange one broadcast event so members can hear from the final two candidates – if there are two – before they vote. 

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Ms Truss dramatically admitted defeat and announced she is quitting as PM today, with Westminster gearing up for Mr Johnson and Rishi Sunak to do ‘battle for the soul’ of the party. 

After just 44 disastrous days in No10, Ms Truss took to a lectern outside the famous black door to confirm her departure, sealing her fate as the shortest-serving premier in modern political history.

Revealing she had informed the King of her decision, she said: ‘I cannot deliver on the mandate…. I will remain as PM until a successor has been chosen.’ 

Ms Truss – who insisted she was a ‘fighter not a quitter’ barely 24 hours ago – said the Tory leadership contest will be completed over the next week. Giving her valedictory statement, she was watched by husband Hugh. 

Attention immediately turns to the leadership battle – with Jeremy Hunt ruling himself out within minutes. However, there are claims that Boris Johnson – currently on holiday in the Caribbean – will bid for a shock return just six weeks after he left office. 

His MP supporters have been saying it is ‘time to come back’, but other politicians warned it would be ‘f***ing madness’ and said some colleagues could choose to defect if he won. ‘It ended in chaos with 57 ministers resigning. He lost the confidence of the parliamentary party,’ they added.  

A Boris-supporting former Cabinet minister shot back: ‘I we lose 10 MPs we’ve still got a majority of 51… he’s got the stardust that the others simply do not have..’  

Friends of Rishi Sunak told MailOnline he is almost certain to stand. One close ally told MailOnline there would be a ‘natural logic’ to him facing off against Mr Johnson. ‘It will be a battle for the soul of the party,’ they added.

As Ms Truss time in power came shuddering to an ignominious end:

  • Sterling shot up to $1.13 before the speech as markets anticipated that Ms Truss would resign, and then pared back gains slightly to stand 0.4 per cent higher at $1.126 after her resignation statement; 
  • Labour leader Keir Starmer has twisted the knife by demanding an immediate general election;
  • Ms Truss will be entitled to £19,000 severance after around 51 days as PM, while Mr Johnson would not have to return a payoff because more than three weeks has passed;  
  • Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has launched an investigation into the claims of bullying during the votes last night; 
  • The Pound has dropped to $1.119 against the US dollar, its lowest level for a week, as markets digest the political turmoil. 

The candidates could include the former PM, who has been backed by some MPs to run to return to power. But he remains on holiday in the Caribbean and faces a race against time to return and launch an effective campaign.

Sir Graham Brady (left) said that after talks with the board of the Conservative Party and the executive of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers that he chairs, nominations begin straight away and close at 2pm on Monday. ‘We fixed a high threshold but a threshold that should be achievable by any serious candidate who has a prospect of going through,’ he told reporters outside Parliament.

How will the new PM be chosen? 

Monday

2pm: Nominations will close in the Tory leadership contest. Candidates will need 100 MPs to support them in order to make it through to the first ballot. If only one MP passes this threshold they will become prime minister without a vote.

3.30pm to 5.30pm: The first ballot of MPs will be held to choose between the leadership candidates. There will be a maximum of three contenders, due to the high nomination threshold.

6pm: The result of the first ballot of MPs is announced. If three candidates get through, the candidate with the fewest number of votes will be eliminated. But, if only two candidates made it through to the first ballot, this would become an indicative vote for MPs to express their preference between the final two contenders.

6.30pm to 8.30pm: If three candidates made it to the ballot, and the lowest was removed in the first vote above, a second ballot could be held. This would become the indicative vote on the final two candidates, allowing MPs to show party members who they want to be PM.

9pm: The result of the second ballot of MPs will be announced. The two candidates will then proceed to an online vote of Conservative members.

Friday

11am: The online membership vote will close. The result will be announced later that day and the identity of the new Tory leader revealed.

The high bar is expected to rule out many hopefuls, potentially including Penny Mordaunt as well as Suella Braverman, Kemi Badenoch, and Brandon Lewis. 

Conservative 1922 Committee chair Sir Graham Brady told journalists in Westminster that a replacement should be in place by October 28, in time for the Halloween Budget. 

He suggested that the membership could be ‘involved’ on that schedule, but refused to give details of how.    

The bombshelll news follows a week of carnage that saw a bewildering array of U-turns on the mini-Budget, the Chancellor and Home Secretary quit, confusion over whether the Chief Whip had followed her out of the door, and MPs wrestling in Commons voting lobbies.

A slew of apocalyptic polls showing Labour up to 36 points ahead had also fuelled outright panic in the Parliamentary party. 

Ms Truss held crisis talks with Sir Graham, deputy PM Therese Coffey and Tory chair Jake Berry in the building earlier, as they delivered grim message about the mood of the party.  

A series of previously-loyal MPs joined calls for her to go this morning. Even supportive Cabinet ministers had been conceding the situation is ‘terminal’.

Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan was sent out to prop up the PM this morning, but would only say that ‘at the moment’ she believes Ms Truss will lead the Tories into the next election. 

The main obstacle to removing Ms Truss over recent days was the lack of consensus on who should take over and what the process should be, with little appetite for a drawn-out contest. 

Nadine Dorries has warned the only person who would be acceptable in a ‘coronation’ is Mr Johnson. 

In order to restrict the field, there is likely to be a very high threshold of nominations to get on the ballot – perhaps 100. 

The 1922 committee could seek tacit agreement from candidates that they will step aside if they are not in pole position when the field is whittled down to a final two. That would avoid the need for a run-off vote of the entire party membership.

Events accelerated after another bout of madness at Westminster yesterday culminated in stories of tears and tantrums in Parliament, with Ms Truss allegedly engaging in a shouting match with her own enforcers.

Deputy PM Therese Coffey was accused of ‘manhandling’ Tory MPs to vote against a Labour motion that could have killed the government’s plans to resume fracking – something she denies.

The premier tried to force the issue by declaring that it was a matter of confidence, meaning a defeat the would have collapsed the government. But at the end of the debate a minister declared that it was not in fact a confidence vote – triggering fury from Chief Whip Wendy Morton and her deputy Craig Whittaker. 

Other whips told MPs they had resigned, but after three hours of silence and frantic wrangling behind the scenes Downing Street announced they were still in post. A 1.33am statement then made clear that it had been a confidence vote, warning that around 30 MPs who abstained will be disciplined. 

However, in another twist this morning, Ms Trevelyan said that it had not been a confidence vote. 

The PM lost her second Cabinet heavyweight in five days after Suella Braverman resigned as Home Secretary, admitting using of her personal email to campaign against the government’s own immigration policy – but also hit out at Ms Truss for ditching key policies, suggesting she should also quit for ‘mistakes’.  

The PM appointed Grants Shapps, a Rishi Sunak supporter who as late as Monday was telling media that her government was unsustainable.

After just 44 days in No10 – the shortest term in modern political history – the PM took to a lectern outside the famous black door to confirm her departure

Ms Truss was watched by husband Hugh as she delivered her emotional announcement in Downing Street today

Afterwards the PM and her husband wa;led disconsolately back into the building, where they took up residence little over a month ago


One close ally of Rishi Sunak (right) told MailOnline there would be a ‘natural logic’ to him facing off against Mr Johnson (left). ‘It will be a battle for the soul of the party,’ they added

Boris Johnson ally James Duddridge said it was ‘time to come back’ as he mulls another bid for Downing Street

Penny Mordaunt’s leadership campaign Twitter account already seems to have been fired up today 

I came into office at a time of great economic and international instability.

Families and businesses were worried about how to pay their bills.

Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine threatens the security of our whole continent.

And our country had been held back for too long by low economic growth.

I was elected by the Conservative Party with a mandate to change this.

We delivered on energy bills and on cutting national insurance.

And we set out a vision for a low tax, high growth economy – that would take advantage of the freedoms of Brexit.

I recognise though, given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party.

I have therefore spoken to His Majesty The King to notify him that I am resigning as Leader of the Conservative Party.

This morning I met the Chair of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady.

We have agreed there will be a leadership election to be completed in the next week.

This will ensure we remain on a path to deliver our fiscal plans and maintain our country’s economic stability and national security.

I will remain as Prime Minister until a successor has been chosen.

Thank you.

Minister James Duddridge said it was time for a comeback by Boris Johnson.

Tweeting with the hashtag #bringbackboris, he said: ‘I hope you enjoyed your holiday boss. Time to come back. Few issues at the office that need addressing.’

Sir James served as a parliamentary private secretary to Mr Johnson when he was in No 10.

Another frontbencher, Brendan Clarke-Smith, said he thought Mr Johnson would be ‘potentially’ interested.

‘We need someone who can come in, we need somebody who can bring people together, somebody who actually has got that mandate. So a mandate from people in the last general election, a mandate from party members and somebody actually who can get this party going again, get us winning elections again,’ he told Sky News.

‘The only person that I think that ticks all those boxes is Boris Johnson.’

But other MPs warned that the idea of the ex-PM returning is ‘mad’.

Former prime minister Theresa May also dropped a broad hint at her view by warning Tory MPs must ensure there is a ‘sensible, competent government’.

She said: ‘The Prime Minister is right to provide a roadmap for an orderly transition.

‘MPs must now be prepared to compromise.

‘It is our duty to provide sensible, competent government at this critical moment for our country.’

Ms Truss’s announcement came after Sir Graham gave a privately grim assessment of her survival prospects.

‘I came into office at a time of great economic and international instability.

‘Families and businesses were worried about how to pay their bills.

‘Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine threatens the security of our whole continent.

‘And our country had been held back for too long by low economic growth.

‘I was elected by the Conservative Party with a mandate to change this.

‘We delivered on energy bills and on cutting national insurance.

‘And we set out a vision for a low tax, high growth economy – that would take advantage of the freedoms of Brexit.

‘I recognise though, given the situation, I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected by the Conservative Party.

Ms Truss said that the contest should ‘be completed within the next week’.

‘This will ensure that we remain on a path to deliver our fiscal plan and maintain our country’s economic stability and national security,’ she added.

‘I will remain as Prime Minister until a successor has been chosen.’

Labour leader Keir Starmer demanded a general election ‘now’ so that the nation can have ‘a chance at a fresh start’.

The Conservatives are set to appoint their third prime minister on the mandate won by Mr Johnson in December 2019.

Sir Keir said: ‘The Conservative Party has shown it no longer has a mandate to govern.

‘The British public deserve a proper say on the country’s future. They must have the chance to compare the Tories’ chaos with Labour’s plans to sort out their mess, grow the economy for working people and rebuild the country for a fairer, greener future.

‘We must have a chance at a fresh start. We need a general election – now.’

As MPs lined up against Ms Truss earlier, Tory backbencher Gary Streeter said he believed she must go, but warned that even the ‘Angel Gabriel’ will struggle to lead the party because it lacks ‘discipline, mutual respect and teamwork’. 

Fellow Conservative Sheryl Murray said: ‘I had high hopes for Liz Truss but after what happened last night her position has become untenable and I have submitted a letter to Sir Graham Brady.’

Truss is shortest serving PM ever 

Liz Truss is now the shortest serving prime minister in British history.

She clocked up 44 full days in the role – a long way behind the next shortest premiership, that of Tory statesman George Canning, who spent 118 full days as PM in 1827 before dying in office from ill health.

Ms Truss was to have overtaken this number of days on January 3 2023.

But instead she will fall short by more than two months, with the next prime minister due to be elected within the next week.

Some PMs have had shorter terms, but gone on to take charge in No10 again.  

Hendon MP Matthew Offord told the Evening Standard said Ms Truss needs to make a ‘dignified exit’. ‘I can’t see the situation being sustainable. She does need to sit down and discuss it with her Cabinet and with others to manage some kind of dignified exit.’ 

Crawley MP Henry Smith told Times Radio that the Conservatives ‘cannot delay’ getting rid of the premier.

Tory Jill Mortimer, who shocked Labour by winning the Hartlepool by-election just last year, shared an image of her letter of no confidence on Facebook.

She added: ‘Yesterday, I tried to get called in PMQs to ask Liz Truss for an assurance of support for our town and our promises.

‘Sadly I was not called and the deteriorating situation throughout the day left me with no choice but to submit a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister to Sir Graham Brady.’

Senior MP Simon Hoare told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I’m a glass half full sort of person. Can the ship be turned around? Yes. But I think there’s about 12 hours to do it.

‘I think today and tomorrow are crunch days. I have never known – OK, I’ve only been an MP for seven years – but a growing sense of pessimism in all wings of the Tory party.’

In a rant during an interview that was retweeted by colleagues, veteran Conservative MP Charles Walker said: ‘I think it’s a shambles and a disgrace. I think it is utterly appalling. I am livid.’

Last night Conservative MPs were confident that between 50 and 100 letters of no confidence had been submitted to Sir Graham, despite current rules stating the committee cannot hold a vote of confidence in Liz Truss for a year after her appointment. 

After the government declared yesterday morning that the vote on banning fracking was an issue of confidence, climate minister Graham Stuart told the Commons it was not a confidence motion after all.

Deputy chief whip Craig Whittaker had written to Conservatives telling them it is a ‘100 per cent hard 3 line whip!’

‘We cannot, under any circumstances, let the Labour Party take control of the order paper and put through their own legislation and whatever other bits of legislation they desire,’ he said.

‘We are voting NO and I reiterate, this is a hard 3 line whip with all slips withdrawn.’

The last-minute shift caused Ms Morton to storm out of the Chamber, before reportedly publicly declaring ‘I am no longer the Chief Whip’ while standing just a metre away from the PM.

While Tory MPs were originally telling reporters that both the Chief Whip and her Deputy, Craig Whittaker, had quit their roles and handed in resignation letters, confusion soon intensified after it was reported Liz Truss followed Ms Morton and pulled her into an intense meeting to prevent her quitting.  

Mr Whittaker reportedly declared as he walked out of the division lobby: ‘I am f***ing furious and I don’t give a f*** any more.’

For several hours, no-one from the government could confirm or deny the claims that both the top whips had resigned. When pressed on issue, Business Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg said he was ‘not clear’ what the ‘situation’ with the whips was. 

By 9pm, Ms Coffey was telling reporters outside the Carlton Club – where with exquisite timing the entire Cabinet was due to attend a dinner for the centenary of the agreement that sunk Lloyd George’s government – that Ms Morton had won a ‘great victory’ by defeating the Labour motion. 

No10 confirmed at 9.49pm that the pair were indeed remaining in post. 

Chair of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady speaking after the PM’s bombshell resignation today

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was seen deep in conversation on his phone in Whitehall today

Deputy PM Therese Coffey and Tory chair Jake Berry have also gone into the building, fuelling speculation that the crisis could be about to peak


Chief Whip Wendy Morton and Tory chair Jake Berry were seen going in and out of Downing Street today, although that in itself is not unusual

Nadine Dorries warned the only person who could return in a ‘coronation’ is Boris Johnson. Other MPs want Rishi Sunak or Penny Mordaunt to take over

Suella Braverman returned home from the school run this morning after quitting as Home Secretary yesterday amid claims she had a 90-minute row with the PM over immigration first

The barely believable scenes in the division lobbies – captured on camera by Labour MP Chris Bryant in defiance of Commons rules – were the latest evidence of the wheels falling off Liz Truss’s administration

Who takes over now? Tory leadership election will last just a WEEK and new leader will be installed by Friday 28 October as party squabbles over who can be the ‘unity candidate’ 

Liz Truss’s bombshell resignation today sets up a lighting fast election for a new Tory leader with no obvious unity candidate to take over.

Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are both considering a new run at power in the contest that Tories hope will select a new leader by Friday October 28.

This would put the new leader in place in time for a crucial financial statement on October 31 which is intended to reassure the City of London that the Government has a plan to repair the nation’s finances.

Sir Graham said there was an expectation that Tory members would be involved in the process but ‘I think we’re deeply conscious of the imperative in the national interest of resolving this clearly and quickly’.

The party is keen to avoid a re-run of the summer’s bitter and protracted 55-day race in which Ms Truss beat Mr Sunak. 

That race saw both sides engage in bitter blue-on-blue infighting, mainly over the economy, that did not help the party in the polls. 

Ms Truss spent more than an hour in talks with 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady, Tory chairman Jake Berry and deputy PM Therese Coffey this morning.

Afterwards, announcing her resignation after just 44 days she revealed they had agreed a truncated election campaign lasting a week.

Sir Graham told reporters that he wants to run it, including possibly a vote of 160,000 party members, before the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt makes the fiscal statement on spending on October 31. 

Asked if the party faithful will be included in the process, he told reporters: ‘Well, that is the expectation.

‘So the reason I’ve spoken to the party chairman and I discussed the parameters of a process is to look at how we can make the whole thing happen, including the party being consulted, by Friday next week.’

Sir Graham added: ‘I think we’re deeply conscious of the imperative in the national interest of resolving this clearly and quickly.’

They appear to be pinning their hopes on a single unity candidate can be identified who can effectively step in and avoid any further unpleasantness, with the party hemorrhaging support in the polls.

However, that unity candidate has yet to emerge, with several big names suggesting it should be them. 

Those in the frame include Mr Sunak, the former chancellor, Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

Liz Truss’s bombshell resignation today sets up a lighting fast election for a new Tory leader with no obvious unity candidate to take over.

The former prime minister, who was forced out of Downing Street in the summer after a scandal-plagued three years in charge, is believed to be sounding out advice on mounting a comeback.

The party is keen to avoid a re-run of the summer’s bitter and protracted 55-day race in which Ms Truss beat Mr Sunak.

Those in the frame include Mr Sunak and (top to bottom) Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

Odds on the next PM: 

Rishi Sunak: 11/10

Penny Mordaunt: 7/2

Ben Wallace: 7/1

Jeremy Hunt: 9/1

Boris Johnson: 11/1

Theresa May: 16/1

Michael Gove: 31/1

Grant Shapps: 35/1

Suella Braverman: 55/1

Tom Tugendhat: 75/1

Dominic Raab: 80/1

James Cleverly: 85/1

Steve Baker: 90/1

Sajid Javid: 120/1

The the main obstacle remains the lack of consensus on who should take over and what the process should be, with little appetite for a drawn-out contest. There are signs leadership battle lines are already being drawn, with former minister Crispin Blunt openly calling for Jeremy Hunt to get the keys to No10.

Nadine Dorries warned the only person who could return in a ‘coronation’ is Boris Johnson. Other MPs want Rishi Sunak or Penny Mordaunt to take over.

One senior MP, not previously a fan of the ex-PM, told MailOnline Sir Graham has to come up with a ‘plan’. ‘Bring back Boris or get Jeremy Hunt in. If you get Boris back in you just hit the reset button,’ they said.

One idea being pushed by influential Tories is that MPs vote on a successor, but there is a very high threshold of nominations to get on the ballot.

The 1922 committee could ask candidates to agree that they will step aside if they are not in pole position when the field is whittled down to a final two. That would avoid the need for a run-off vote of the entire party membership.

A source said of the blueprint: ‘That has been put to someone very senior in the party, very, very senior.’

Ms Truss has said she will stay on as Prime Minister until a successor is chosen via a leadership election to be held within the next week.

Speaking in Downing Street, she said: ‘This morning I met the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.

‘We’ve agreed that there will be a leadership election to be completed within the next week.

‘This will ensure that we remain on a path to deliver our fiscal plan and maintain our country’s economic stability and national security.

‘I will remain as Prime Minister until a successor has been chosen.

‘Thank you.’

Here we look at who could take over power: 

BORIS JOHNSON 

Could Boris Johnson make an unlikely come-back just three months after resigning in disgrace?

He was eventually pulled from office after a massive ministerial rebellion in July, after Partygate, Wallpapergate and a myriad of other scandals including the removal of whip Chris Pincher pulled down his premiership.

But he still has his supporters in the parliamentary party and wider conservative ranks – though polls show a majority of voters believe he was right to quit.

One MPO told MailOnline he could be the best solution to the problems the party faces.

‘If you can find a unity candidate you are a better man than I,’ the former minister said. ‘There isn’t one. It is a funny kind of strength.

‘The membership didn’t want to get ride of Boris… They would welcome it. He is the only one with a personality that can appeal to anybody.’

They added: ‘He is like Heineken. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility.’

Boris Johnson was the preferred option as a replacement, with 32 per cent supporting him as their first choice, while 23 per cent said Rishi Sunak and 10 per cent Ben Wallace

Nadine Dorries, a staunch ally of the former prime minister and a backer of Liz Truss, made a fresh appeal to doubting Conservative MPs to stand behind the current leader. But the former Culture Secretary said ‘only one MP has a mandate’ from both the Tory party and the British public – Mr Johnson

However defence minister James Heappey threw shade at the ex-PM today.  The  Armed Forces Minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme there was no alternative unity candidate and defended Ms Truss, saying that at least she had apologised quicker than Boris Johnson did when he was prime minister.

Last night Tory plotters were told to reinstate Mr Johnson to No 10 or face a general election ‘within weeks’.

Nadine Dorries, a staunch ally of the former prime minister and a backer of Ms Truss, made a fresh appeal to doubting Conservative MPs to stand behind the current leader.

In recent weeks she has called for Ms Truss to hold a fresh election if she was insistent on wavering over her predecessor’s policies.

But the former Culture Secretary said ‘only one MP has a mandate’ from both the Tory party and the British public – Mr Johnson.

RISHI SUNAK 

The former Chancellor, 42, was the runner-up in this summer’s Tory leadership race.

He and Ms Truss went head-to-head as the final pairing in the contest to replace Boris Johnson in No10.

They engaged in bitter exchanges over their economic agendas during a lengthy series of hustings events across the UK.

Now that Ms Truss has abandoned almost all her leadership pledges on tax cuts – and is adopting much of the approach pursued by Mr Sunak when he was Chancellor – some MPs will be wondering why they don’t just put him in charge instead.

A number of his supporters are also likely to take a ‘told you so’ attitude to the Government’s current travails – after Mr Sunak’s warned this summer of market turmoil if Ms Truss followed through with her unfunded tax cuts.

Mr Sunak won the support of 137 MPs in the initial stages of the Tory leadership contest – 24 more than Ms Truss – and retains a strong backing within the parliamentary party.

After overseeing the Government’s economic response to the Covid crisis, he also has experience of political leadership in turbulent times.

MPs might be wary of installing a leader who was rejected by the Tory membership little more than a month ago.

There is also lingering resentment at Mr Sunak for his resignation as Chancellor in July, which many of Mr Johnson’s loyalists still blame for the former PM’s ousting from No10.

But a new poll today suggests the grassroots of the party may be more accepting than previously thought. 

The poll of Conservative members by JL Partners for the Daily Telegraph found that 60 per cent of them would now back Mr Sunak for party leader, once undecided and non-voting members are excluded. More than four-in-10 (43 per cent) would support him outright, to Truss’s (28 per cent)

JEREMY HUNT 

The 55-year-old was a shock appointment as the new Chancellor on Friday following Ms Truss’s sacking of her ally Kwasi Kwarteng.

He is now being referred to among some Tory MPs as the ‘de facto PM’ after he tore up what remained of Ms Truss’s mini-Budget plans and outlined a completely new economic agenda.

Mr Hunt is being talked up as a potential ‘unity’ candidate behind which the competing wings of the Conservative Party could rally behind, amid the current economic crisis.

He is an experienced Cabinet minister and is the longest-serving Health Secretary in British political history following his spell in charge of the NHS between 2012 and 2018.

Mr Hunt has also previously served as Foreign Secretary and Culture Secretary and would be seen as a safe pair of hands.

Jeremy Hunt has replaced Kwasi Kwarteng as Chancellor – but he has ruled out a tilt at the top job and urged MPs to give Ms Truss ‘a chance’

There have been suggestions he could enter No10 as a ‘caretaker’ PM to steady the ship before another leader is elected.

But Mr Hunt himself is distancing himself from talk about his leadership chances and has ruled out a tilt at the top job as he called on MPs to give Ms Truss ‘a chance’.

‘I rule it out, Mrs Hunt rules it out, three Hunt children rule it out,’ he told Sky News.

During this summer’s Tory leadership contest, Mr Hunt was knocked out in the first round of voting by MPs when he attracted the support of just 18 colleagues.

It is this recent demonstration of a paucity of support for Mr Hunt – who went on to support Mr Sunak against Ms Truss – among Conservative MPs that would count against him if he changed his mind.

He was previously the runner-up to Mr Johnson in the 2019 Tory leadership election, in which he was roundly rejected by Tory members.

Following his elimination from this summer’s contest, Mr Hunt had appeared to admit his hopes of ever seizing the Tory crown were over.

‘It’s become obvious to me you only get one big shot at this, and I had mine in 2019.’ he said at the time. 

PENNY MORDAUNT 

The Leader of the House of Commons, 49, came close to reaching the final round of this summer’s Tory leadership contest.

She finished third behind Ms Truss and Mr Sunak when she secured the support of 105 MPs.

The Royal Navy reservist has since been drafted back into the Cabinet, where she previously served as Defence Secretary under Theresa May’s premiership.

But, this summer’s leadership contest saw questions raised about Ms Mordaunt’s ministerial record.

There was stinging criticism of Ms Mordaunt’s work ethic as she was accused of going missing from her ministerial duties by rival camps.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who was Ms Mordaunt’s former boss, moaned about she had ‘not been available’ at various times as a trade minister and left others to ‘pick up the pieces’.

Penny Mordaunt finished third behind Ms Truss and Mr Sunak in this summer’s Tory leadership contest when she secured the support of 105 MPs

It was claimed Ms Mordaunt had instead spent her time focusing on preparations for her leadership campaign.

She also had to fight hard during the Tory leadership contest against criticism of her stance on trans issues, including her past claim that ‘trans women are women’.

Ms Mordaunt blasted critics trying to depict her as ‘woke’.

One suggestion at Westminster is the possibility of Ms Mordaunt teaming up with Mr Sunak as part of a joint ticket to replace Ms Truss.

But plotters are said to be undecided on who would be PM out of the pair, if they were to front a ‘government of all the talents’ between them.

Last night it was reported that Ms Mordaunt’s allies reached out to Mr Sunak to be her chancellor, but were rebuffed.

BEN WALLACE

The 52-year-old is popular with Tory members following the Defence Secretary’s efforts in leading Britain’s military response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He is also being spoken of as a ‘unity’ candidate to bring the party back together, should Ms Truss depart.

The former Army officer has routinely topped the polls among the Conservatives grassroots.

But he did not enter this summer’s leadership contest after ‘careful consideration’ and later backed Ms Truss.

At this month’s Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, Mr Wallace admitted he was ‘conflicted’ about a possible leadership bid in the future. 

He told a fringe event: ‘At this time of life, the idea was no. I mean do I rule it out? No. I don’t rule it out, but will I be here in a few years’ time? I don’t know either.’

The 52-year-old is popular with Tory members following the Defence Secretary’s efforts in leading Britain’s military response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Wallace might be popular with Tory members, but would be less well-known to members of the public as he has only been a Cabinet minister since 2019.

Tory MPs might also fear he is untested as he has never held one of the ‘great offices of state’ as Mrs May, Mr Johnson and Ms Truss all had before they entered No10. 

Mr Wallace has also been touted as a possible successor to NATO general secretary Jens Stoltenberg.

Last night be repeated his desire to stay at defence, telling the Times: ‘I want to be the Secretary of State for Defence until I finish. I love the job I do and we have more to do. I want the Prime Minister to be the Prime Minister and I want to do this job.’

He added: ‘I say to the colleagues who think our role is to feed the instability within the party, by proposing other people as leaders no matter who they are, (you) are doing a disservice.

‘The markets are responding at the moment in the UK to unsurety about the Government. The best way to give those markets some confidence is for people to stop playing political parlour games.’ 

SUELLA BRAVERMAN

Suella Braverman was only in the Home Office for a matter of weeks but she spent most of it seemingly positioning herself for a tilt at another job – that of prime minister. 

The hardline Brexiteer was handed the top job as an acknowledgement of her popularity with the right of the party in the summer leadership contest, and for switching to Team Truss when she was knocked out. 

But during her tenure she made a series of outbursts that put her at odds with Liz Truss, raising suggestions she was positioning herself for the next leadership race. 

In a letter, Ms Braverman said she was resigning for breaching processes by sending an email from her personal account about a forthcoming ministerial statement on immigration.

But in another hammer blow for the PM’s chances of clinging on, she also complained that the government was breaking promises. She swiped that when people made ‘mistakes’ – something Ms Truss has admitted – the right thing to do was quit.

They had a huge bust-up over visas policy last night. The 42-year-old mother-of two hit the headlines just yesterday with a rant against the ‘tofu-eating wokerati’ for effectively preventing police from arresting eco-zealots who have caused mayhem and misery during weeks of protest.

The hardline Brexiteer was handed the top job as an acknowledgement of her popularity with the right of the party in the summer leadership contest, and for switching to Team Truss when she was knocked out.

She hit out at MPs who voted against tough new measures to strengthen police powers to deal with activists more quickly.

Addressing the Commons as MPs debated the Public Order Bill, Mrs Braverman said: ‘I’m afraid it’s the Labour Party, it’s the Lib Dems, it’s the coalition of chaos, it’s the Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati – dare I say, the anti-growth coalition – that we have to thank for the disruption we are seeing on our roads today.’

Her comments came as police arrested two Just Stop Oil protesters who spent 36 hours suspended from the QEII bridge, closing a major transport link between Kent and Essex due to safety fears.

At the Conservative Party conference a fortnight ago she also attacked the PM for U-turning over plans to axe the 45p top rate of income tax.

She launched a swipe as the PM tried to regain her balance, branding the U-turn on axing the 45p tax rate ‘disappointing’ and accusing rebels of a ‘coup’.

She was also blamed recently for jeopardizing a free trade deal with India by accusing its people of being the worst at overstaying visas in the UK.

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