The Prime Minister has promised to set out a timetable for her resignation and the election of a new party leader after the next Brexit vote in June. In the week commencing June 3, MPs will vote on her Withdrawal Agreement for the fourth time, but regardless of the outcome Mrs May told the 1922 backbench committee she would set a timetable for her departure. The new Tory leader is likely to be voted in by the end of Summer, with a “coronation” taking place at the autumn party conference.
A statement issued by Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 committee, on behalf of the executive and Mrs May, said the Prime Minister was “devoting her efforts” to securing the crucial second reading of the Brexit bill.
But he added: “We have agreed that she and I will meet following the second reading of the bill to agree a timetable for the election of a new leader of the Conservative and Unionist party.”
If the Prime Minister loses the crunch vote, which has already been rejected three times, Tory sources said she would announce her resignation and instigate a leadership contest.
Hours before the Prime Minister’s decision, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson confirmed he would run for the Tory party leadership, in a contest that is expected to take place in the coming months.
With almost a dozen other senior Tories expected to throw their hats into the ring, who do you think is most likely to succeed Mrs May and become the next Tory leader and UK Prime Minister?
These are the MPs who bookies pen as the most likely Tories to become the next permanent leader of the Conservative Party.
Vote for who you want to take over from Theresa May
Michael Gove ran against Theresa May in the 2016 Conservative Party leadership election, in a controversial move that served to undermine Mr Johnson’s leadership aspirations – as Mr Gove had previously been seen as a key ally of the Johnson campaign.
During Mrs May’s premiership Mr Gove has become a surprise ally, frequently backing her Brexit strategy and he recently called on his colleagues to give the Prime Minister the “time, space and dignity” to resign on her own terms.
The Environment Secretary has not yet announced his plans to run in the next leadership contest, and when asked if he would run earlier this week, he responded: “I think sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
Told that did not amount to a “no”, he replied; “No, it’s not a no.”
Skybox and 888sport currently place Mr Gove in third place, with odds of 7/1 and 8/1 respectively.
Health minister Matt Hancock is rumoured to consider running in the next leadership contest, with odds of 16/1 and 14/1 from Skybet and 888sport.
Mr Hancock, a Remainer who says Brexit has to be delivered, was first elected to Parliament in 2010 and has held several ministerial roles.
In March, Sun columnist James Forsyth claimed the health secretary was the frontrunner among Cabinet ministers and had been urged to run for the leadership by Tory party doners.
As one of the youngest MPs likely to contest the leadership, Mr Hancock is seen as a safe pair of hands and one of the most credible candidates.
Theresa May has promised to set out a timetable for her resignation
Jeremy Hunt, who voted to Remain in the EU referendum, is Mrs May’s preferred successor.
He recently called for a huge hike in defence spending, in a speech many have called as an obvious hint he intends to run for Tory leader.
Mr Hunt, who was the longest serving health secretary, staying in the role for almost six years, is expected to cast himself as the champion of “One Nation Conservatism”.
He is likely to get the backing of Brexiteers over his support for a hard Brexit.
Bookies currently have place him at fourth spot in the running, with both Skybet and 888sport placing him on odds of 10/1.
Home secretary Sajid Javid has not yet announced his intention to run but recent speeches and media interviews have left many to argue he is laying the groundwork for a leadership bid.
The former banker and a champion of free markets has served a number of cabinet roles and scores consistent well in polls of party members.
Mr Javid voted Remain in the 2016 referendum, but was previously considered to be eurosceptic.
A second-generation immigrant of Pakistani heritage is believed to have impressed the Tory membership with his tough line on immigration and his handling of the Windrush scandal that ousted his predecessor, Ambur Rudd.
Mr Javid is currently trailing behind his colleges however, with odds of 16/1 and 14/1, according to 888sport and Skybet.
Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson is the only Tory to formally announce he will run for the Conservative Party leadership after Mrs May stands down.
Asked at a business event on Thursday if he would be a candidate, Mr Johnson replied: “Of course I’m going to go for it.”
Mr Johnson is currently the frontrunner, with both 888sport and Skybet placing him on odds of 5/2.
The prominent Brexiteer resigned from the cabinet last July in protest of the Prime Minister’s handling of Brexit negotiations.
Andrea Leadsom said she was “seriously considering” standing to succeed Mrs May earlier this month, having reached the final round of the 2016 contest before withdrawing from the race.
The Leader of the House of Commons, who is a vocal Brexiteer, has strongly defended the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal but admitted she was “disgusted” that the UK has still not left the EU almost three years after the EU referendum.
Mrs Leadsom has been the MP for South Northamptonshire since 2010 an has held a number of Cabinet roles.
Despite coming second on the previous leadership contest, bookies currently place the Commons leader in eight place with odds of 22/1 and 20/1.
Boris Johnson has already announced his intention to run as the next Tory leader
Dominic Raab quit as Mrs May’s Brexit minister last year after just five months in the job.
He left in protest at her draft exit agreement, saying it did not match the promises the Conservative Party made in the 2017 election.
Since his election in 2010, Mr Raab has held junior ministerial roles.
During the referendum campaign he campaigned for Brexit.
Although Mr Raab has not yet declared his candidacy, when asked previously if he would like to have the top job, he said: “Never say never”.
Mr Raab currently trails Mr Johnson in second place, with odds of 6/1 and 11/2, according to 888sport and Skybet.
A former diplomat, Rory Stewart was promoted to International Development Secretary this month after holding several junior mistrial positions.
Having backed Remain in the 2016 EU referendum, Mr Stewart opposes a no-deal exit and has been a vocal advocate of the Prime Minister’s deal with Brussels.
He previously told the BBC: “I do want to bring this country together… I accept Brexit, I am a Brexiteer, but I want to reach out to ‘Remain’ voters as well.”
Skybox currently places Mr Stewart in fifth place, with odds of 14/1.