Javid and Johnson jockey for position at head of pack of challengers

Javid and Johnson begin media charm offensive as they jockey for position at head of the pack of potential challengers if Theresa May succumbs to leadership challenge

  • Former Home Secretary Boris Johnson spoke about weight loss in the Spectator
  • Sajid Javid was interviewed in the magazine and failed to rule out leadership bid
  • Others believed to be vying for top position are Dominic Raab and Jeremy Hunt 
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Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid manoeuvred themselves into the media spotlight last night as they prepared to do battle for the Tory crown.

The two men are among the favourites to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May if she succumbs to a leadership challenge in the coming days over her handling of the Brexit deal.

Former foreign secretary Mr Johnson used a column in the Spectator magazine to open up about his recent weight loss, which is widely seen as laying the ground for a leadership bid. 

And Home Secretary Mr Javid used an interview with the same magazine, which is known as the Tory bible, to make a thinly veiled pitch for the top job.




Mr Javid, left, and Mr Johnson, right, both just pieces in Spectator magazine to pitch to be PM

Mr Johnson, who quit the Cabinet in July over Mrs May’s Chequers Brexit plan, has spent months sniping at her negotiations with the EU.

He used his Spectator article to reveal he has lost 12lb in two weeks after receiving a wake-up call about his health, and outlined how he has replaced ‘bathfuls’ of alcohol with glasses of water and ditched late-night binges on chorizo and cheese. 

He then turned his own experiences into an analogy on how Britain should be preparing for Brexit.

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The admission about his health comes two days after he made a public pitch for the Tory leadership by appearing in a TV interview sporting a more statesmanlike closely cropped hairstyle.

Meanwhile, Mr Javid yesterday appeared to set out his stall for the Conservative leadership. In the interview, he said voters want ‘to see politicians they can relate to; that they think are authentic; that – therefore – can be straight and honest with them’.

The Home Secretary also challenged the immigration target – championed by Mrs May – arguing that the policy should be set solely in terms of what is in the national interest. 

‘Personally, I think that is far more important than someone saying: our immigration policy is about bringing numbers down, and nothing else,’ he said.

Who could replace Theresa May? As Brexiteers move against the Prime Minister because of her deal ‘betrayal’ these are some of the leading contenders to take over

Theresa May looks certain to face a vote of no confidence after her Brexit deal was rejected out of hand by Eurosceptics.

If she loses the Tory Party will launch a leadership contest to replace her – a process that will likely take weeks with just months until Brexit Day.

These are some of the leading contenders to replace her:

Dominic Raab

How did they vote on Brexit?

Leave, with a second tier role campaigning for Vote Leave.

What is their view now?

Mr Raab was installed as Brexit Secretary to deliver the Chequers plan but sensationally resigned today saying the deal is not good enough.

What are their chances?

Being the first to resign from the Cabinet has put a rocket booster under Mr Raab’s chances, fuelling his popularity among the hardline Brexiteers. May struggle to overcome bigger beasts and better known figures. 


Newly installed as Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab (pictured in Downing Street on Tuesday) is trying to negotiate Theresa May’s Brexit deal

Boris Johnson

How did they vote on Brexit?

Led the Vote Leave campaign alongside Michael Gove.

What is their view now?

Hard line Brexiteer demanding a clean break from Brussels. The former foreign secretary is violently opposed to Theresa May’s Chequers plan and a leading voice demanding a Canada-style trade deal.

What are their chances?

Rated as second favourite by the bookies, Mr Johnson’s biggest challenge will be navigating the Tory leadership rules. He may be confident of winning a run-off among Tory members but must first be selected as one of the top two candidates by Conservative MPs. 


Rated as second favourite by the bookies, Boris Johnson’s (pictured at Tory conference last month) biggest challenge will be navigating the Tory leadership rules

Sajid Javid

How did they vote on Brexit?

Remain but kept a low profile in the referendum.

What is their view now?

Pro delivering Brexit and sceptical of the soft Brexit options.

What are their chances?

Probably the leading candidate from inside the Cabinet after his dramatic promotion to Home Secretary. Mr Javid has set himself apart from Mrs May on a series of policies, notably immigration.


Sajid Javid (pictured in Downing Street) is probably the leading candidate from inside the Cabinet after his dramatic promotion to Home Secretary

Jeremy Hunt

How did they vote on Brexit?

Remain.

What is their view now?

The Foreign Secretary claims the EU Commission’s ‘arrogance’ has made him a Brexiteer.

What are their chances?

Another top contender inside Cabinet, Mr Hunt’s stock rose during his record-breaking stint at the Department of Health and won a major promotion to the Foreign Office after Mr Johnson’s resignation. Widely seen as a safe pair of hands which could be an advantage if the contest comes suddenly. 


Jeremy Hunt’s stock rose during his record-breaking stint at the Department of Health and won a major promotion to the Foreign Office after Mr Johnson’s resignation

David Davis

How did they vote on Brexit?

Leave.

What is their view now?

Leave and a supporter of scrapping Mrs May’s plan and pursuing a Canada-style trade deal with the EU.

What are their chances?

The favoured choice of many hard Brexiteers. Seen as a safer pair of hands than Mr Johnson and across the detail of the current negotiation after two years as Brexit Secretary. He could be promoted a caretaker to see through Brexit before standing down.

Unlikely to be the choice of Remain supporters inside the Tory Party – and has been rejected by the Tory membership before, in the 2005 race against David Cameron. 


David Davis (pictured last month at a Brexiteer policy launch) is seen as a safer pair of hands than Mr Johnson and across the detail of the current negotiation after two years as Brexit Secretary

Amber Rudd

How did they vote on Brexit?

Remain. Represented Britain Stronger in Europe in the TV debates.

What is their view now?

Strongly remain and supportive of a second referendum – particularly given a choice between that and no deal.

What are their chances?

Popular among Conservative MPs as the voice of Cameron-style Toryism, Ms Rudd is still seen as a contender despite resigning amid the Windrush scandal – and she was boosted further by her return to Cabinet as Work and Pensions Secretary on Friday night. She is badly hampered by having a tiny majority in her Hastings constituency and would not be able to unite the Tory party in a sudden contest over the Brexit negotiation. 


Popular among Conservative MPs as the voice of Cameron-style Toryism, Amber Rudd (pictured at Tory conference last month) is still seen as a contender despite resigning amid the Windrush scandal

Penny Mordaunt

How did they vote on Brexit?

Leave

What is their view now?

Leave and subject of persistent rumour she could be the next to quit Cabinet over Mrs May’s Brexit deal.

What are their chances?

Possible dark horse in the contest, Ms Mordaunt is not well known to the public but is seen as a contender in Westminster. She has been encouraged to join the Cabinet revolt over the Brexit deal and could resign within hours. 


Possible dark horse in the contest, Penny Mordaunt (pictured in Downing Street) is not well known to the public but is seen as a contender in Westminster

Mr Javid said that ‘politicians – or the right politicians – can make a real difference to you in your life.’

Writing in the Spectator, Mr Johnson used the nation’s failure to tackle obesity as an analogy for Brexit. 

He said: ‘We have every possible incentive to change, to go for a different and more rewarding and more fulfilling lifestyle. 

‘But we are sunk in inertia – a moral inertia that exactly corresponds to the political inertia of the British ruling class.

‘We know we have to make changes if we are to leave the EU. We know we have to get ready if we are to take advantage of all the freedoms we will gain: the freedom to innovate, the freedom to regulate in the interests of UK firms, the freedom to open up new markets around the world to British goods and services.

‘We have known for two-and-a-half years that we need to make these modest changes. And what have we done?

‘Nothing. We have been unable to kick our habits, too slothful to leave the customs union and single market, even though it means we are now set to be an effective colony of the EU.’

Who has sent letters of no confidence in May?

Letters of no confidence in Theresa May are confidential – but some of her strongest critics have gone public.

If 48 letters are sent a vote is called.

This is who has definitely sent a letter: 

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