By William James and Andrew MacAskill
LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May offered on Wednesday to quit if her twice-defeated EU divorce deal passes, in a last-ditch attempt to persuade Eurosceptics to back it.
Below are some of those who could be in the frame to replace her:
MICHAEL GOVE, 51
Gove, one of the highest-profile Brexit campaigners during the 2016 referendum, has had to rebuild his cabinet career after falling early to May in the contest to replace David Cameron, who resigned the day after losing the referendum.
Seen as one of the most effective members of cabinet in bringing forward new policies, the high-energy environment minister has become a surprise ally to May and has so far backed her Brexit strategy.
Gove teamed up with Boris Johnson during the 2016 Brexit campaign only to pull his support for Johnson’s subsequent leadership bid at the last moment and run himself.
Betting odds indicate he is the leading candidate to replace May and has a 22 percent chance of being the next prime minister.
BORIS JOHNSON, 54
The former foreign minister is May's most outspoken critic over Brexit. He resigned from the cabinet in July in protest at her handling of the exit negotiations.
Johnson, regarded by many eurosceptics 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 last 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 to ape the policies of the left-wing Labour Party.
DAVID LIDINGTON, 62
May's de-facto deputy prime minister supported "Remain" in the 2016 referendum and played a key role in David Cameron's failed renegotiation effort prior to the Brexit vote.
Lidington has been touted as a possible interim leader. At the weekend, he said he did not think he had any wish to take May's job.
"One thing that working closely with the prime minister does is cure you completely of any lingering shred of ambition to want to do that task," he said.
JEREMY HUNT, 52
Hunt replaced 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.
Hunt voted to remain in the EU in the referendum. He served six years as Britain’s health minister - a role which has made him unpopular with many voters who work in or rely on the state-run, financially stretched National Health Service.
JACOB REES-MOGG, 49
A flamboyant millionaire who cultivates the image of an English gentleman from days gone by, Rees-Mogg has developed a cult following among those who want a more radical departure from the EU than May is proposing.
Rees-Mogg, the head of the influential ERG eurosceptic 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 May, Rees-Mogg said he would not be putting himself forward for the job.
DOMINIC RAAB, 44
Britain’s former Brexit minister quit May’s government last year in protest at her draft exit agreement, saying it did not match the promises the Conservative Party made at a 2017 election. 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. Raab campaigned for Brexit ahead of the referendum and is a black belt in karate.
Asked earlier this month if he would like to be prime minister he said: “Never say never.”
SAJID JAVID, 49
Javid, a former banker and champion of free markets, has served a number of cabinet roles and scores consistently well in polls of party members. A second-generation immigrant of Pakistani heritage, he has a portrait of former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on his office wall.
Javid voted remain in the 2016 vote but was previously considered to be eurosceptic.
DAVID DAVIS, 69
Davis, a leading eurosceptic, was appointed to lead Britain’s negotiations with the EU in July 2016, but he resigned two years later in protest at May's plans for a long-term relationship with the bloc.
Last month, he told a magazine he would probably be the Conservative Party leader if the role was like an application for a job as chief executive.
"But it isn't. And that isn't the way the decision is done," he said.
PENNY MORDAUNT, 46
Mordaunt is one of the last remaining pro-Brexit members of 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 May’s draft withdrawal deal.
ANDREA LEADSOM, 55
Another pro-Brexit campaigner who still serves in May’s cabinet, Leadsom made it to the last two in the 2016 contest to replace Cameron. But rather than force a run-off vote against Theresa May, she withdrew from the contest. She currently runs parliamentary business for the government.
AMBER RUDD, 55
Rudd resigned as interior minister last year after facing an outpouring of indignation over her department's treatment of some long-term Caribbean residents who were wrongly labelled illegal immigrants.
She could win support from pro-EU lawmakers in the Conservative Party. But she struggled to retain her seat at the 2017 election and has one of the smallest majorities in parliament.
(Reporting By William James and Andrew MacAskill; editing by Stephen Addison)
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Updated Date: Mar 28, 2019 01:07:32 IST