Liz Truss said in her resignation letter that the new driving contest will take place within a week.
This will be the fifth Conservative Prime Minister in just over six years – and the third during this parliamentary term.
But who might be the next leader? Here are the main racers and riders.
Sunak has proven to be a prophet of the government’s demise, with many of the predictions he made during this summer’s leadership about Truss’ economic plan.
The ex-Finance Minister (Finance Minister) has warned that the unfunded tax cuts made by Truss will lead to a run on the British pound, panic in the bond market and anxiety from the International Monetary Fund. Perhaps he would have been surprised at the pace at which he proved to be healthy.
Sunak has experience fighting economic crises, having guided the UK through the Covid-19 pandemic. He is also popular with MPs, receiving more votes in Parliament than Truss before putting the choice between the final candidates up to members, losing narrowly in the final vote.
The confidence he had among Members of Parliament—and the accuracy with which his predictions had earned—might likely make him the next set of hands to steer the ship.
The leader of the House of Commons may have made a rehearsal for being prime minister this week, having missed out on Liz Truss in a debate.
Mordaunt asserted on Tuesday that “the prime minister is not under a desk” – in a performance that appeared aimed at promoting himself as he did to help the prime minister.
Mordaunt came in third in the last leadership election, narrowly losing ground to members – among whom she was expected to do well, in part due to her military credentials. Mordaunt is a reservist in the Royal Navy.
Like Sunak, she is from the more moderate wing of the party. There has even been talk among MPs about the two forming a ‘dream team’ ticket, although this has yet to materialize – and it is unclear whether Sunak will settle for the chancellorship again.
It is a sign of the chaos that pervaded the last days of the Truss government that she elevated Grant Shapps to the position of Home Secretary – though she had not offered him a cabinet role of any kind when she first took office.
Shapps served as Secretary of Transportation under Boris Johnson. He himself came forward to succeed him in the previous leadership election – only to drop out of the race three days later, having failed to get the 20 votes needed to move on to the next round.
Badenoch came fourth in this summer’s leadership election – but has been consistently ranked by pollsters as a grassroots favorite for conservatives.
Badenoch, one of the younger MPs in the race, quickly won the endorsement of long-time deputy governor Michael Gove, who praised her as the “outstanding talent” in the party.
Badenoch is to the right of the Conservative Party – and in her previous leadership bid she suggested that government climate targets could be too costly.
Just a few months ago, Johnson had a comfortable majority in Parliament and even claimed he was even considering his third term – widespread derision. Despite being hit by a seemingly endless series of scandals, Labor still lags in the polls – and Johnson has had no clear contender in the party.
In his last speech as Prime Minister outside 10 Downing Street, Johnson made one of his signature references to ancient history. He said he would “go back to his plow” like the Roman statesman Cincinnatus – suggesting a quieter life on the back benches.
But that’s not how Cincinnati lived his days. He was called from his plow to return to Rome for a second term – this time as a dictator.
Memories of Partigate, the long-running scandal that eventually led to his downfall, may be too recent for MPs to call Johnson again yet.
But as the Conservative Party faces electoral oblivion, the man with 80 seats in 2019 could be a tempting option for many MPs.