Tory leadership hopefuls scramble to promise Brexit by Halloween after Euro election mauling by Farage: Party Brexiteers flock to No Deal in attempt to avoid catastrophic general election wipeout
Top Tories demanded Brexit be completed as soon as possible to avoid a catastrophe for the party after it was utterly humiliated by voters who subjected it to its worst ever election defeat.
A host of MPs vying to replace Theresa May broke cover today to warn of a Conservative collapse as it finished fifth on 9 per cent behind the Greens after months of chaos and bitter infighting.
After Nigel Farage‘s Brexit Party gobbled up votes to come top in the contest and consign the Conservatives to the worst result in their history, leadership contender Boris Johnson delivered a stark message that they must listen to the ‘millions who voted for change‘.
The leadership front runner said the rout in the polls last night will become a ‘permanent haemorrhage‘ of voter support unless the party takes dramatic action to win back furious Brexiteers.
Nigel Farage today warned the Tories he will wipe them out at a general election unless they push through Brexit by Halloween – after securing a stunning triumph in EU polls.
The stark ultimatum came after the Brexit Party won at least 28 MEP seats and 31 per cent of the vote, despite only being formed six weeks ago. Just four Conservatives were elected in England, Scotland and Wales.
The Prime Minister said the European elections were a ‘very disappointing night‘ for the Tories, adding that: ‘It shows the importance of finding a Brexit deal, and I sincerely hope these results focus minds in Parliament.‘
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is also hoping to succeed Theresa May, said the Tories were looking at an ‘existential risk‘ unless they found a way to break the impasse.
Andrea Leadsom, who quit last week over Theresa May‘s later-abandoned Brexit deal, said the nation ‘should never have been fighting these elections‘ and said she had a ‘three-step plan‘ to deliver Brexit.
And another hardline Brexiteer, Dominic Raab, said voters had delivered a message that ‘unless we get on and actually leave the EU they will rightly kick us out at the next election‘.
The Tory disaster came as Jeremy Corbyn was facing civil war within his party as critics blamed the party‘s poor third-place finish on 14 per cent on his failure to back a second referendum. The Remainer Lib Dems surged into second place on 20 per cent with the Greens coming a close fourth on 12 per cent.
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Tory leadership contenders including (l-r) Jeremy Hunt, Andrea Leadsom and Dominic Raab were among those to issue dire warnings for the Conservative Party if it cannot sort out Brexit fast
A jubilant Nigel Farage (pictured in London this morning) demanded a role in the next round of negotiations with the EU after te Brexit Party‘s triumph, threatening to contest a general election
This map shows by council that the Brexit Party have topped polls in almost everywhere in England and Wales. The Tories have not topped in any council areas
The Conservatives suffered a humiliating 14.9 per cent loss in their 2014 vote share in last night‘s European election results
With most of the results now in, Brexit Party is in first place while Labour and the Conservatives struggled at the polls
The Brexit Party have topped polls in every country or region apart from London. London was won by the Liberal Democrats
The Conservative vote share slumped to around 9 per cent – thought to be its lowest in a national election since 1834 when the party took on its current name
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is also hoping to succeed Theresa May, said the Tories were looking at an ‘existential risk‘ unless they found a way to break the impasse
A jubilant Mr Farage demanded a role in the next round of negotiations with the EU, threatening to contest a general election.
No Deal Brexit: Where do the Tory leadership candidates stand?
Boris Johnson: Brexiteer who backs a deal but will leave without a deal if required. Writing in the Daily Telegraph today the ex-foreign secretary said: ‘No one sensible would aim exclusively for a no-deal outcome. No one responsible would take no-deal off the table.‘
Dominic Raab: Brexiteer who wants the current deal with Brussels renegotiated but believes the UK should leave on October 31 ‘at the latest‘ with or without a deal, saying: ‘I believe that I have the plan to ensure we can leave the EU by the end of October‘.
Andrea Leadsom: Brexiteer who told the Guardian we must be ‘prepared to leave without a deal‘ but has a ‘three-point plan for Brexit, for how we get out of the European Union‘.
Rory Stewart: Remainer who says he could not work for a PM who backed a No Deal Brexit. Described it as ‘damaging, unnecessary‘ and ‘a huge mistake‘.
Michael Gove: Brexiteer who favours a deal. He told the at the weekend that ‘we would be able to get through it‘ but added: ‘It‘s ultimately better for all of us if we secure a deal with the EU and leave in an orderly way‘.
Matt Hancock: Remainer who backs a deal. He told Sky News that leaving the European Union without an agreement is ‘not an active policy choice that is available to the next prime minister‘, in jibe at Boris Johnson.
Jeremy Hunt: Remainer turned Brexiteer whose views on No Desal have varied. last year he said it would be ‘a mistake we would regret for generations‘ before later insisting the UK would ‘would survive and prosper‘ if it left unilaterally.
Esther McVey: Ruled out a futher Brexit extension, telling Sky yesterday: ‘October 31 is the key date and we are coming out then, and if that means without a deal then that‘s what it means. We won‘t be asking for any more extensions. If Europe wants to come back to us, the door is open if they want a better deal.‘
Speaking this morning, he blasted the Tories for their handling of Brexit but said he would be willing to support a Conservative leader who promises to take Britain out of the EU with No Deal.
He said: ‘If we don‘t leave in October the Brexit party will go on to a general election.
‘We are happy to help any leader who is genuine about us leaving the EU. We would like to be part of the negotiating team, use us and give us some responsibility, but they need to be prepared to leave with a clean break Brexit. Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Michael Gove – all of them voted for Mrs May‘s European treaty.
‘It‘s all about establishing trust – if the next leader says the same thing then no one is going to trust them.‘
‘This is just the beginning of a new political movement.‘
On a dramatic political night where turnout rose to a 15-year high as voters vented their fury at the chaos in Westminster:
Election guru Sir John Curtice said that the result meant that the next Tory leader faced a ‘conundrum‘, saying: ‘So many Conservative Leave voters have switched to the Brexit Party – many of whom we should remember voted for Ukip in 2014 and/or in 2015.
‘They switched to the Conservatives in 2017 because they thought Theresa May would deliver.
‘Now that she hasn’t delivered it seems to me ‘’once bitten, twice shy’’ and they will probably wish to see the UK leaving the European Union before many of them will be willing to go back again.’
Mr Johnson laid into Mrs May – who announced her resignation on Friday – for having ‘flagrantly failed‘ in managing Britain‘s departure from the EU.
By contrast he has already declared that if he becomes leader this summer the UK will leave the EU at the end of October, with or without a deal.
He wrote in the Daily Telegraph: ‘No one sensible would aim exclusively for a no-deal outcome. No one responsible would take no-deal off the table.‘
The Brexit Party‘s advance was only checked in Scotland, where Nicola Sturgeon‘s SNP topped the polls and Nigel Farage‘s party finished narrowly ahead of the Lib dems
Mr Johnson insisted last week that the UK would quit the bloc on October 31 ‘deal or no deal‘.
Labour tears itself apart over a new referendum as frontbenchers line up to demand a new poll
Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party was engulfed by a bitter Brexit civil war over a second referendum today after a brutal night in the European elections saw it humiliated.
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott both spoke out publicly in support of a ‘public vote‘ after it slump to a predicted third behind the Brexit Party and the resurgent Liberal Democrats.
Labour is well behind Nigel Farage‘s Brexit Party and the Lib Dems. Even in Mr Corbyn‘s Islington back yard Labour only managed to come second.
It is being consumed by an acrimonious split between MPs in Remain-supporting areas and those in Leave seats who fear a backlash at the next general election.
After the result Mr McDonnell said Labour could unite the party and country by ‘taking (the) issue back to people in a public vote‘ and Ms Abbott said that the party had been damaged by not having a ‘clearer line‘ on the issue.
Foreign secretary Emily Thornberry was among those to blast the party‘s ‘unclear‘ strategy and demand a second referendum after Labour‘s thrashing.
Ms Thornberry warned were ‘getting a good kicking‘ as the unashamedly pro-Remain Lib Dems ate into the Labour vote.
Deputy leader Tom Watson demanded an ‘urgent‘ change of direction, warning that it will soon be too late to stop the UK from crashing out of the EU without a deal.
And shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said that the public should be offered a choice between ‘a credible leave option and remain‘.
But shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon – a key Corbyn lieutenant – insisted Labour had the right approach in seeking to appeal to both Leavers and Remainers despite its failures.
It came after Mr Corbyn himself has said ‘this issue will have to go back to the people‘ as the shadow Cabinet turned on him – although he again dodged stating whether there should be a general election or a single-issue vote.
His concerns over the future of the party were echoed by leadership rival Mr Hunt who warned there was an ‘existential risk to our party unless we now come together and get Brexit done.‘
Another rival, Dominic Raab, said Britain must leave the EU by October 31, and challenged the other contenders to a televised debate on Brexit.
He said: ‘Voters have sent us a very clear message: unless we get on and actually leave the EU they will rightly kick us out at the next election.
‘I believe that I have the plan to ensure we can leave the EU by the end of October, as well as the tenacity and experience to see it through.‘
Mr Raab added: ‘I hope that the other candidates take me up on my suggestion of holding a televised debate so that we can test each other‘s plans on Brexit. I look forward to debating my optimistic vision of a fairer deal for Britain in the coming days.‘
And Mrs Leadsom added: ‘These results are truly terrible and demonstrate the damage that has been done to the Conservative Party, and to the country, in not leaving the European Union.
‘We should never have been fighting these elections.
It is now vital we now find a way to decisively leave the EU.
‘Doing so will allow us to focus on other areas people care so passionately about, such as the climate crisis, and social care.
‘I have a three-step plan for how we deliver Brexit which I look forward to discussing further during the leadership campaign.‘
Daniel Hannan, who was elected as one of just three Tory MEPs in England and Wales, said the European elections had been ‘without question our worst result as a party ever‘.
‘People voted to leave three years ago and we haven‘t left, it‘s as simple as that,‘ he told the Press Association.
‘I think I‘m back as one of, I think it looks like being three Conservatives nationally.
‘So without question our worst result as a party ever.‘
But he suggested the party‘s fortunes could be turned around and the threat from Mr Farage‘s Brexit Party neutralised if the UK did leave the EU.
‘The appeal of a party called the Brexit Party will dry up very quickly once Brexit has happened,‘ he said.
‘We need to leave in a way that carries as many people with us as possible and we need to be conciliatory and we need to have a Brexit that is cordial and orderly and that people in the 48 per cent and the 52 per cent can live with, but it‘s got to happen speedily.
Mr Gove (left) said he would set out his stance on no deal in the coming days, but that he agreed with Mrs May on the need for compromise in politics
Andrea Leadsom said the nation ‘should never have been fighting these elections‘ and said she had a ‘three-step plan‘ to deliver Brexit
How Tory leadership hopefuls responded to election disaster
‘No one sensible would aim exclusively for a no-deal outcome. No one responsible would take no-deal off the table.‘
‘Yes, we knew it was coming but still a painful result. Existential risk to our party unless we now come together and get Brexit done.‘
‘Hugely disappointing results – but this is a verdict on our delivery of #Brexit.
‘There‘s a clear lesson: people want us to get on with it. Not another election or referendum asking if changed their mind.
‘We‘ll need to unite as a party to deliver that. There are no other options.‘
‘The Conservative Party is the oldest political party in the world. It will survive and flourish, because we have far more in common than divides us.‘
‘I was not expecting to go back to the European Parliament and I really don‘t want to stay there any longer than is necessary.‘
Former Brexit minister Chris Heaton-Harris said the Tories deserved its thrashing.
‘Awful results for my Party tonight, but whilst our teams of candidates didn‘t deserve them, our Party did,‘ he said. ‘We should have left the EU on 29th March, as we promised, with or without a deal. The message about leaving on 31st Oct is crystal clear.‘
Ex-cabinet minister John Redwood said: ‘The big Brexit Party win must be a wake up call to Parliament. Get us out of the EU immediately with no Withdrawal Treaty lock in.‘
Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans said the result, which saw no Tories elected in the North West, was ‘beyond dire‘, adding: ‘Wake up Conservatives and deliver Brexit.‘
However, former minister Sam Gyimah warned against interpreting the results as a ‘mandate for No Deal‘.
‘Tough election for , and we need to rapidly find a way forward. With 34.9% of voters voting for hard Brexit in a low turnout election (compared to the GE and referendum), we should be careful not to interpret this as a mandate for No Deal.‘
In a slight consolation, the Tories appear on course to retain their single MEP in Scotland when results are officially declared.
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said ‘all indications‘ pointed to Baroness Mobarik retaining her seat on a ‘tough night‘ for the party across the UK.
Tory chairman Brandon Lewis said: ‘We knew this would be a difficult night for – people want us to deliver Brexit as quickly as possible. We must.‘
As the battle for Downing Street heated up, Environment Secretary Michael Gove insisted he has ‘evolved‘ as a politician since previously stating he was ‘incapable‘ of being prime minister.
He told Radio 4 podcast, Political Thinking with Nick Robinson: ‘I‘ve changed my mind.
‘In those three years I have been through a variety of experiences. I think that I‘ve evolved as a politician.‘
Mr Johnson and Mr Gove fronted the Vote Leave campaign to victory in the 2016 referendum.
But they famously fell out in the aftermath when Gove quit as Johnson‘s campaign chairman and sank his leadership bid.
These former battle lines are now being redrawn as the rival Eurosceptics both set their sights on Number 10.
Chancellor Philip Hammond has repeatedly refused to rule out backing a no confidence vote in Theresa May‘s successor if they went for a no-deal Brexit in October.
He told the : ‘A prime minister who ignores Parliament cannot expect to survive very long.‘
Other leadership contenders Dominic Raab, Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey have said they would be prepared to leave with no deal on October 31 if necessary.
Mr Gove said he would set out his stance on no-deal in the coming days, but that he agreed with Mrs May on the need for compromise in politics.
Writing in , Health Secretary Matt Hancock called for fellow contenders to rule out a snap national poll in a bid to try and end parliamentary deadlock on Brexit.
He said: ‘A general election before Brexit would be madness.
‘That means we have to deliver Brexit through this Parliament, whether we like it or not.‘
Mr Gove insisted he could be trusted when asked about campaigning against his previous political ally David Cameron in the referendum, and the way he suddenly abandoned Mr Johnson in the 2016 leadership contest.
And Mr Johnson used the poor Tory showing in the European Parliament election to try and position himself as the candidate best placed to battle the Brexit Party.
The new Tory leader looks set to take over as prime minister at the end of July after Mrs May finally laid out a timetable for her exit from Downing Street.
Nominations close in the week of June 10, with MPs involved in a series of votes to whittle down the crowded field to a final two contenders.
The 160,000 Tory party members will then decide who wins the run-off.
Furious viewers slam ‘s ‘biased‘ Euro election coverage that focused on Remainer Lib Dems and Greens
Some viewers of the ‘s election broadcast took aim at former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell (pictured) over his comments about the Brexit Party
Furious Party supporters have lashed out at election coverage claiming it was ‘biased‘ and downplayed ‘s triumph at the polls.
The corporation faced fury for emphasising the strong performance of the Remain-supporting Greens and Liberal Democrats rather than focusing on Mr Farage‘s victory.
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presenters were also taken to task for allowing former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell to grill another guest over the Brexit Party‘s finances.
During the programme Mr Campbell admitted he had voted for the Lib Dems in the election – something that could trigger his expulsion from Labour.
He said it had been the first time in his life that he had not voted for the Labour Party, launching a blistering attack warning its ‘policy of riding two horses has failed‘.
Former UKIP MEP Patrick O‘Flynn said: ‘I know it‘s early, but I must say coverage is missing the obvious huge story – the Brexit Party has won these elections and won them big.‘
One twitter user also chimed in and addressing the directly, said: ‘Your biased Euro election coverage was appalling, Alastair Campbell lied about Iraq, and continues to lie and spin against democracy, aided and abetted by the ‘impartial‘ . You know where you can stick your licence! I‘ll save my roubles and watch YouTube.‘
In a statement to the MailOnline, the said: ‘The Brexit Party being the clear winner, with the Liberal Democrats coming second, was our lead story. The ‘s EU election coverage provided accurate, impartial reporting and analysis.‘
So who will replace Theresa? Bookies‘ favourite Boris is ODDS-ON to take May‘s crown as a DOZEN former ministers and backbenchers enter the race to be PM
Boris Johnson is favourite to replace Theresa May‘s after her decision to resign on June 7 fired the official starting gun on the race to succeed her.
The long-term favourite has roared into a commanding lead to win the vote to take over as Tory leader and become the Prime Minister who will be faced with delivering Brexit.
But the field in the contest due to take place in June and July is likely to be wide, with more than a dozen ministers, former ministers and backbenchers believed to be ready to run.
Eight MPs have now said they will run: Mr Johnson, Dominic Raab, Rory Stewart, Jeremy Hunt, Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove, Matt Hancock and Esther McVey.
Sajid Javid is also believed to be considering a run, alongside outsiders including hardline Brexiteer Steve Baker and even Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee.
Here we look at the main runners and riders, with their odds with Ladbrokes and how they voted in the 2016 referendum:
Theresa May broke down in tears as she announced she would step down as party leader on June 7, sparking a leadership battle in June and July
Mr Johnson, the former foreign secretary, has long been the bookies‘ favourite to replace Theresa May
Boris Johnson: The long-running thorn in May‘s side who has recently had a ‘prime ministerial‘ makeover
Boris Johnson split from his wife Marina and is in a relationship with former Conservative staffer Carrie Symonds
The former foreign secretary, 54, who quit last July and has been tacitly campaigning for the leadership ever since. He finally went public last week to confirm he would run.
Never far from the limelight the father-of-four recently split from his wife Marina and is in a relationship with former Conservative staffer Carrie Symonds, 20 years his junior.
As an increasingly hawkish Brexiteer who says we should not be afraid of leaving without a deal he is hugely popular with the party faithful.
At the start of the year he underwent what might be deemed a ‘prime ministerial‘ makeover, losing weight and taming his unruly mop of blonde hair.
Popular with the rank-and-file membership he has less fans in the parliamentary party and may face a concerted campaign to block his succession.
Dominic Raab: Brexiteer who quit rather than back Mrs May‘s deal
Dominic Raab has become a cheerleader for a hard Brexit since stepping down as Brexit secretary in November
Mr Raab, 45, is another Vote Leave member who became Brexit secretary after David Davis quit alongside Mr Johnson last July over the Chequers plan.
But he lasted just a matter of months before he too jumped ship, saying he could not accept the terms of the deal done by the Prime Minister.
Like Mr Johnson and Mr Davis he has become an increasingly hardline Brexiteer, sharing a platform with the DUP‘s Arlene Foster and suggesting we should not be afraid of a no-deal Brexit.
The Esher and Walton MP‘s decision to quit in November, boosted his popularity with party members but he lacks the wider popular appeal of Mr Johnson.
And like Mr Johnson he might benefit from having quit the Cabinet at an earlier stage and dissociating himself with the dying days of the May administration.
His odds have shortened as he is seen as possibly a more palatable alternative Brexiteer to Boris by MPs seeking to block Mr Johnson‘s run.
He recently posed for a glossy photoshoot with wife Erika at their Surrey home.
Michael Gove: The boomerang cabinet minister with a Machiavellian reputation
Michael Gove has made a remarkable political comeback after being sacked by Theresa May in 2016
A Brexiteer with a Machiavellian reputation after the 2016 leadership campaign in which he first supported Boris Johnson for the leadership and then stood against him, to their mutual disadvantage.
The former education secretary – sacked by Mrs May – was rehabilitated to become a right-on environment secretary – complete with reusable coffee cups and a strong line on food standards after Brexit.
Despite being a former lead figure in the Vote Leave campaign alongside Mr Johnson the former journalist and MP for Surrey Heath has swung behind Mrs May‘s Brexit deal – which might count against him.
Supports leaving with a deal and while he says a No deal Brexit would come with ‘problems‘ he believes the country could get through it.
Seen as one of the Cabinet‘s strongest political thinkers and having stood once it is unthinkable that he would not stand again.
He will again be pitched against Mr Johnson in a battle for Brexiteer votes.
Andrea Leadsom: May‘s former rival who finally decided she could take no more
Ms Leadsom (pictured today) quit the cabinet yesterday. She is a Brexiteer who frequently clashed with Speaker John Bercow
The former Commons‘ Leader piled pressure on the Prime Minister by announcing her own resignation from the Cabinet on Wednesday.
In a parting blast, the Commons Leader said she could not stomach the latest version of Mrs May‘s Brexit deal, with its offer of a second referendum.
In a brutal resignation letter she said: ‘I no longer believe that our approach will deliver on the referendum result.‘
It was the final act by an MP whose departure had seemingly been on the cards for months.
Mrs Leadsom, a mother of three, stood against Mrs May for the party leadership in 2016 before conceding defeat before it was put to a vote of MPs.
As collective responsibility largely broke down among ministers she became an increasingly vocal and clear Brexiteer voice in the Cabinet along line similar lines to Mr Johnson and Mr Raab.
She was the host of a Brexiteer ‘pizza party‘ in Parliament that included Michael Gove and Liz Truss as the vying wings of the Cabinet plotted to shape the Brexit deal they wanted.
In her role as Commons‘ Leader she frequently clashes with Speaker John Bercow over issues including bullying in Parliament.
It is something that will do her no harm among the Tory backbenches where he is widely loathed.
Jeremy Hunt: Remainer turned Brexiteer unity candidate who wants to heal the party
Jeremy Hunt, a born-again Brexiteer after supporting Remain, toured Africa last month with wife Lucia
The Foreign Secretary who has undergone a Damascene conversion to the Brexit cause and is seen as a safe if uninspiring pair of hands.
The 52-year-old South West Surrey MP has reportedly been selling himself to colleagues as a unity candidate who can bring together the fractious Tory factions into something approaching a cohesive party.
A long-serving health secretary, the father-of three replaced Mr Johnson as the UK‘s top diplomat and has won some plaudits over issues like the imprisonment of British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in Iran.
But critics point to tub-thumpingly comparing the EU to the USSR at the party conference last year – which was very badly received in Brussels – and a gaffe in which he referred to his Chinese wife as ‘Japanese‘ as a reception in China.
Last month he went on a tour of Africa in which his Chinese wife Lucia made a major appearance, after he gaffed by forgetting her nationality.
Last week he called for a ‘decisive‘ hike in defence spending to see off the rising threat from Russia and China – in a speech seen as a clear signal of his leadership ambitions.
Speaking at the Lord Mayor‘s Banquet Mansion House in the City of London, he said the UK‘s hard power must be strengthened, with billions more spent on new capabilities to tackle drones and cyber attacks.
Rory Stewart: Remainer rising star and friend of royals who is not short of confidence
The father of two is married to Shoshana, whom he first met when they worked together in Iraq and she was already married
The former prisons minister who once vowed to quit if they did not improve within a year declared his candidacy almost as soon as he was promoted to the Cabinet.
He stepped up to International Development Secretary earlier this month to replace Ms Mordaunt and days later declared he will run for the Tory leadership.
The Theresa May loyalist praised the PM for her ‘courageous effort‘ to pass her Brexit deal but admitted he would throw his hat in the ring when she steps down.
Urging his party not to ‘try to outdo Nigel Farage‘, the development secretary said the Tories should ‘stretch all the way from Ken Clarke to Jacob Rees-Mogg‘.
He also lashed out at Mr Johnson at the weekend, saying he would not serve under a No Deal-supporting PM.
The Old Etonian former tutor to the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex previously worked for the Foreign Office in Iraq and set up a charity for the Prince of Wales in Afghanistan.
He has also written several books about walking.
The father of two is married to Shoshana, whom he first met when they worked together in Iraq and she was already married.
Seen as highly intelligent his staunch Remainer and soft Brexit credentials look likely to count against him in a race set to be dominated by the Brexiteer wing of the party.
Matt Hancock: Waffle-loving health secretary who wants Tories to choose a younger leader
Mr Hancock took stroopwafels in for Cabinet the day after he was pulled up for eating them on television
The Health Secretary is, like his predecessor Jeremy Hunt, seen as something of a unity candidate.
The 40-year-old father of three is seen as a safe pair of hands despite a few teething problems in his latest Cabinet role.
Last year he was accused of breaking ethics rules after he praised a private health firm app in a newspaper article sponsored by its maker.
But he has since made some hard-hitting interventions in areas like the impact of social media on health.
Last month he joined Ms Mordaunt in backing the Generation Why? report showing that the Tories needed to become more relevant to younger voters.
He called on the party to change its ‘tone‘ towards modern Britain or face Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister, in a speech widely seen as setting out his leadership credentials.
This week he showed his human side by unashamedly chomping calorific stroopwafels before a TV broadcast, saying he people should enjoy things in moderation.
Penny Mordaunt: The highly regarded Brexiteer promoted to take on defence
Ms Mordaunt is an outsider for the leadership but is highly thought of in Brexiteer groups
The new Defence Secretary – the first woman ever to hold the post – is highly regarded in Brexiteer circles.
The Royal Navy reservist, 46, carved out a niche at International Development with some eye-catching suggests about changing how the UK spends disperses aid cash.
She has become an increasingly serious politician after initially being seen as lighthearted when she appeared in a swimsuit in ITV reality TV show Splash!
She was promoted earlier this month to replace Gavin Williamson when he was sacked for leaking details from a confidential meeting about Huawei.
Over the preceding few months she was at the heart of persistent rumours that she would be the next Brexit-supporting minister out the door over Brexit.
She has yet to announce she is running but last month she backed a thinktank report saying the party needed to attract new voters.
She said the party needed to ‘act swiftly‘ to win over the younger generations who were turning away from the centre-Right in ‘unprecedented‘ numbers.
On Wednesday, after other Cabinet Brexiteers including Andrea Leadsom were notable by their absence during Prime Minister‘s Questions, she remained at her post. It remains to be seen whether this loyalty will count for or against her.
Sajid Javid: Remainer star who has run into trouble over knife crime and refugees
Sajid Javid has seen his stock take a hit over the knife crime crisis and migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats
The Home Secretary, a Remainer who wants to see Brexit delivered, was the leading candidate from inside the Cabinet to replace Mrs May.
After replacing Amber Rudd last year he consciously put clear ground between himself and the Prime Minister on issues like caps on skilled migrants after Brexit.
But his credentials have taken a hit recently. He finds himself facing ongoing criticism of his handling of the knife crime crisis affecting UK cities, which sparked a Cabinet row over funding for police.
He also lost face over his handling of the influx of migrants crossing the English Channel in January, being seen to move slowly in realising the scale of the problem.
But more recently the 49-year-old Bromsgove MP has made a serious of hardline decision designed to go down well with Tory voters.
Most notably they have included moving to deprive London teenager turned Jihadi bride Shamima Begum, 19, of her British citizenship, after she was discovered among former Islamic State members in a Syrian refugee camp.
Steve Baker: Brexiteer ‘Spartan‘ and self-styled ‘hardman‘ who refused to budge over Brexit
Brexit ‘hardman‘ Steve Baker has previously threatened to leave the Tories over Brexit
The High Wycombe MP, 47, is a Brexit purist who has never backed Theresa May‘s deal.
In March he even threatened to quit the party over the issue, saying: ‘We‘ve been put in this place by people whose addiction to power without responsibility has led them to put the choice of No Brexit or this deal.
‘I may yet resign the whip than be part of this.‘
The married former RAF engineer officer described himself as a ‘hardman‘ in a TV interview this year, only to be shown shortly afterwards in a documentary crying in his office.
Today he told the : ‘There is no point shying away from it, people have been asking me to stand. I have had a degree of support from across the country that I could never have foreseen.
‘I have also had some MPs asking me to stand but I need to face up to the challenge of taking a decision on whether I should do it.‘
Sir Graham Brady: Backbench kingmaker with an eye on the throne?
The chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of backbench MPs has played a key but neutral role in the downfall of Theresa May
As chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of backbench MPs he has played a key but neutral role in the downfall of Theresa May.
But he quit that post after nine years today ahead o a possible run for the top job.
Despite being a Brexiteer he has been an independent arbiter, overseeing the no-confidence vote Mrs May survived in December and reportedly opposing attempts to change the rules to dethrone her early.
The married father of two has held several meetings with the PM in recent weeks as the mutiny against her grew and this morning saw her in Downing Street where he told her that her time was up.
But his name was conspicuously absent from a later Conservative Party statement about how the leadership election would happen.
He told the Press Association: ‘I have been approached by a number of colleagues across the party both inside and outside Parliament asking me to put myself forward as a candidate.
‘Therefore I have taken the decision to stand down from the position of chairman of the 1922 Committee in order to ensure a fair and transparent election process.
‘I am considering the approaches I have received and will make a further statement in due course.‘
His Brexiteer credentials and honourable display as Mrs May was brought down will count in his favour but he lacks frontbench experience, having a sole three-year stint as a shadow Europe minister 15 years ago on his CV.
Esther McVey: Former TV presenter and minister who quit Government over Brexit
The former television journalist, is engaged to fellow Tory backbench Brexiteer Philip Davies, 47
The former Work and Pensions Secretary declared her leadership bid last month and has set out a stall as a right-wing blue-collar candidate from a working class Liverpudlian background.
The former television journalist, is engaged to fellow Tory backbench Brexiteer Philip Davies, 47, having previously had a romance with ex-minister Ed Vaizey. She has no children.
This week she set out her leadership pitch by calling for the party to use £7billion of cash on buckling British police forces and schools.
Launching a ‘blue collar conservatism‘ campaign the Brexiteer MP, 51, said her party had ‘lost the trust‘ of working people by failing to leave the EU already and must pursue ‘radical conservative agendas‘ to win it back‘.
She said that keeping cash in the UK that is currently sent abroad would allow an increase of £4billion in spending on schools and £3billion for police, which are both demanding more money.
And she declined to rule out doing a post-election deal with – but said that if the Tories got the UK out it would mean that his Party would have no reason to exist. Speaking in Westminster she reiterated her call for the next party leader to be ‘someone who believes in Brexit‘ – a dig at Mrs May, who supported the Remain campaign in 2016.