Despite winning last night's vote on his leadership of the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson's position as leader looks precarious. So in the event he leaves office, who might take over?

It seems that the sharks are circling around Boris Johnson. Despite a numerical victory in last night's vote of no confidence against him, whether this a political victory is far from certain. Despite the public backing from his ministers, and Mansfield Tory MP Ben Bradley stating that "colleagues that want to oust the PM are in a very small minority", 148 members of the Conservative Parliamentary Party voted against the Prime Minister.

Even though it was a secret ballot, many of those who voted against Boris have publicly outlined their feelings in recent weeks and months. David Davis told Boris in January, "you have sat there for too long for all the good you have done." Sir Jeremy Wright stated that the PM's actions in 'Partygate' have caused "real and lasting damage to the reputation… the institutions and authority of government."

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Whether we see the PM fall on his sword or battle to the bitter end remains unclear. However, conversations over who might take over from Boris Johnson in the long term will only accelerate. This issue is seen as a key reason why the Tories have not yet ousted Johnson. In 2019, Johnson was seen as the clear successor to Theresa May, and had been seen as such for a long time before. Currently, it is not so clear cut.

Ever since Sue Gray's initial report earlier this year, never mind the full report published last month, name after name has been thrown into the ring as a potential successor to Boris. Liz Truss can seemingly do no wrong at the moment, and would be seen as one of the favourites. Joining her are familiar figures including Michael Gove, Dominic Raab and Rishi Sunak, though the latter two would seem to be poor choices. Raab's short stint as Minister for leaving the EU was uninspiring and his time as Foreign Secretary as western forces departed Afghanistan was disastrous, while the optics around Sunak and his wife's wealth do not look good at a time when the country is facing its worst cost of living crisis in a generation.

Then are those with slightly longer odds but who are likely to attract solid support. Tom Tugendhat has already announced that he will run should the PM leave office, and the former soldier looks a certain future cabinet member, if not the top job. Ben Wallace has seen his stock rise as he has dealt with the ongoing crisis in Ukraine as Defence Minister. Also a former soldier, his continuing media exposure will surely aid any future leadership bid. Another potential candidate with good odds is Jeremy Hunt, who has been one the Prime Minister's staunchest and most vocal critics, especially in the Commons. Despite a failed attempt for the leadership in 2019, where he lost out to Boris, and ruling out a bid during the current Ukraine crisis, his name will surely be one of the first into the ring in the event of a contest.

While all of these candidates may have strong credentials, none of them stand out in the way Boris did, and still does, despite his ongoing troubles. He has always had the ability to cut through much of the political noise and appeal to those voters who want a quick answer to the question of who to vote for. The key question the Conservatives need to figure out is if Boris, despite his now tarnished reputation, is still the best of a bad bunch, or whether there is someone else who will give the party the best chance of holding on to power in 2024.

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