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Who will be Britain's next leader if May goes?

Possible contenders include former Foreign Minister Boris Johnson and Brexit negotiator Dominic Raab

Conservative MPs most likely to take over from Mrs May: (Top row, from left) Esther McVey; Dominic Raab; Boris Johnson; David Davis; Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt; (bottom row, from left) Britain's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove; Home Secretary Sajid Javid; Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd; International Development Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Penny Mordaunt; Jacob Rees-Mogg, chair of the Euro-sceptic European Research Group.


LAWMAKERS in British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party on Wednesday triggered a confidence vote in her leadership over Britain's planned divorce from the European Union (EU).

Mrs May has vowed to fight on as leader, but if she loses the confidence vote (it takes place in the early hours of Thursday, Singapore time), she will be out of a job and a contest to replace her will begin.

Here are the possible contenders to replace her:

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Esther McVey, 51

Ms McVey is a former work and pensions minister who quit the government in November in protest against the Brexit deal.

Ms McVey, who had called for Mrs May to go back to Brussels and seek to renegotiate the Brexit deal, has been quoted as saying it would be "very difficult" for Mrs May to stay on if she failed.

She has not ruled out running for the leadership herself, saying she would do so "if people asked me".

Dominic Raab, 44

Britain's Brexit negotiator quit Mrs May's government last Thursday in protest at her draft exit agreement, saying it did not match the promises the Conservative Party made at a 2017 election.

Mr Raab served only five months as head of the Brexit department, having been appointed in July. He was seen as a relative newcomer to the top table of government, but had served in junior ministerial roles since being elected in 2010. Mr Raab campaigned for Brexit ahead of the 2016 referendum on Britain's EU membership and has a black belt in karate.

Boris Johnson, 54

The former Foreign Minister and London Mayor is Mrs May's most outspoken critic over Brexit. He resigned from the Cabinet in July in protest at her handling of the exit negotiations.

Mr Johnson, regarded by many euro-sceptics as the face of the 2016 Brexit campaign, set out his pitch to the membership in a bombastic speech at the party's annual conference in October - some members queued for hours to get a seat.

He called on the party to return to its traditional values of low tax and strong policing, and not to try and ape the policies of the left-wing Labour Party.

David Davis, 69

A leading euro-sceptic, Mr Davis was appointed to lead Britain's negotiations with the EU in July 2016, but he resigned two years later in protest at her plans for a long-term relationship with the bloc. He has been touted as a possible interim leader.

Jeremy Hunt, 52

Mr Hunt replaced Mr Johnson as Foreign Minister in July and has urged the Conservative membership to set aside their differences over Brexit and unite against a common foe: the EU. Mr Hunt voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum.

He served for six years as Britain's health minister - a role that has made him unpopular with many voters who work in or rely on the state-run, financially stretched National Health Service.

Mr Hunt said he backed Mrs May in the confidence vote.

Michael Gove, 51

As one of the highest-profile Brexit campaigners during the referendum, Mr Gove has had to rebuild his Cabinet career after falling early to Mrs May in the contest to replace Mr David Cameron, who resigned the day after losing the 2016 Brexit referendum.

High-energy, and seen as one of the most effective members of Cabinet in bringing forward new policies, Mr Gove has become a surprise ally of Mrs May and so far backed her Brexit strategy.

Mr Gove teamed up with Boris Johnson during the 2016 Brexit campaign, only to pull his support for Mr Johnson's subsequent leadership bid at the last moment and run himself. Mr Gove said he backed Mrs May in the confidence vote.

Sajid Javid, 48

This former banker and champion of free markets has held a number of Cabinet roles and scores consistently well in polls of party members.

A second-generation immigrant of Pakistani heritage, he has talked about having a portrait of former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on his office wall.

Mr Javid voted "remain" in the 2016 Brexit vote, but was previously considered to be euro-sceptic. He said he backed Mrs May in the confidence vote.

Amber Rudd, 55

Ms Rudd was elected to parliament in 2010 after a career in business and financial journalism.

After resigning as interior minister in April to protect the Prime Minister's reputation over the Windrush scandal, she was recently welcomed back into the cabinet as work and pensions secretary.

Ms Rudd has also expressed her backing for Mrs May.

Penny Mordaunt, 45

Ms Mordaunt is one of the last remaining pro-Brexit members of Mrs May's Cabinet, where she serves as International Development Minister.

Many had expected her to join the wave of resignations that followed the publication of Mrs May's draft withdrawal deal. Ms Mordaunt said she backed Mrs May in the confidence vote.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, 49

A flamboyant millionaire who cultivates the image of an English gentleman from days gone by, Mr Rees-Mogg has developed a cult following among those who want a more radical departure from the EU than Mrs May is proposing.

Mr Rees-Mogg, the head of an influential euro-sceptic group of lawmakers, announced he had submitted a letter of no-confidence in the Prime Minister the day after she unveiled her draft Brexit deal.

But does he want the top job? Asked immediately after saying he had submitted his letter to depose Mrs May, Mr Rees-Mogg said he would not be putting himself forward for the job. REUTERS