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Courtesy Wikicommons / a fine artist

A sad little guide to Boris Johnson’s potential successors

As the prime minister faces calls to resign over ‘partygate’, a grim crowd of fellow Tories are circling his seat

Things are looking up for the UK, which is to say that things are looking bad for Boris Johnson. ICYMI, the current prime minister’s leadership is hanging in the balance as he faces the fallout from “partygate”, a scandal revolving around a series of Downing Street parties that took place while the rest of the population was in lockdown. 

Yes, while many were stranded at home, away from their friends and families, the PM was attending a “bring your own booze” gathering, or enjoying cheese and wine with his pals (more on cheese later, bizarrely). Now, though, amid an investigation into the gatherings, Johnson is facing calls to resign from members of his own party.

Ridiculously, Johnson has “categorically” denied that he knew a drinks party in the garden of Number 10 was breaking lockdown rules. “Nobody warned me that it was against the rules,” he said earlier this week. “I would have remembered that.” (Reader, he made the rules.)

Johnson has also downplayed the idea of resigning if he is found to have misled MPs about the party situation, as claimed by his former aide – and fellow awful person – Dominic Cummings. However, if 54 letters of no confidence are sent by Tory MPs as public pressure builds, it will trigger an automatic leadership contest.

This brings us to the real question: who will replace Boris Johnson in the event that he’s ousted by his own party? Right now, Rishi Sunak is the bookies’ favourite to take over the job, but several other figures will be in close competition for the title of the UK’s most-disliked human being. 

Here’s a rundown of the most likely candidates (disclaimer: when I said things are looking up for the UK, I lied).

RISHI SUNAK

Good if you want even more austerity, after a decade of severe public funding cuts credited with stalling life expectancy for the first time in 100 years. The serving Chancellor of the Exchequer has pushed for lower taxes and less public investment in recent months, even as the UK struggles to recover from the pandemic.

Bad if you’re looking for a straight answer on fossil fuels. You’re not going to get it.

LIZ TRUSS

Good if you have nationalist feelings towards cheese. Truss has made her patriotic view on importing cheese – alongside apples and other Great British Fruit – very clear. It. Is. A. Disgrace.

Bad if you’re not a big Margaret Thatcher fan. The current Foreign Secretary has been channelling her role model for some time, even going so far as to pose on a tank in Estonia, in homage to the Iron Lady. Embarrassing, but also quite ominous.

PRITI PATEL

Good if you were that kid in school who never actually bullied anyone but got a sadistic kick out of other people doing it and laughed along, and so you were basically complicit all along. Yes, Priti Patel has been accused of bullying government staff, people you probably don’t like much either, but do we really want someone like that in government, let alone at the head of the country?

Bad if you want to maintain any sense of humanity. On a personal level, Patel is accused of being a bully; in a professional capacity, she’s known for her right-leaning views on immigration and shifting blame as refugees die in attempts to cross the channel. Within the UK, she’s also made an impact as the brains behind the oppressive Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

JEREMY HUNT

Good if you’re going to miss laughing at Boris Johnson’s incompetence. After all, Jeremy Hunt is the man who accidentally pulled the emergency stop cord in a train toilet, on the way to a Tory conference. He also thought his Chinese wife was Japanese that one time. Oh, and the rhyming potential of his last name is an obvious plus.

Bad if you value the NHS, or abortion rights. Though Hunt credits himself as the man who saved the NHS, he actually oversaw years of underfunding that left the health service ill-equipped to deal with the pandemic years later.

PENNY MORDAUNT

Good if you like an underdog story. The trade minister has worse odds than the other politicians in this list, but has also been billed as a “dark horse” in the race. She also lost a bet once and had to say “cock” six times in a House of Commons speech, which is… something.

Bad if you didn’t vote Leave. Mordaunt was a vocal backer of leaving the EU, and commentators suggest that she could rise to power by appealing to the pro-Leave wing of the party, as if half the Tories’ fetish for Brexit wasn’t all too obvious already.