And they’re off…

Twenty-four hours after Boris Johnson begrudgingly threw in the towel on the steps of Downing Street, the race to succeed him is well and truly underway.  

It’s going to be a crowded field, Grand National-style. Already, an eclectic mix of candidates have expressed interest in running.  

Suella Braverman, the attorney-general, lost no time in launching her, er, optimistic bid on Thursday morning.

Steve Baker has suggested he will run, although the head of the European Research Group’s pitch for leader sounded more like a warning of a coming coup: “I’m absolutely confident if I seize power, I’d do a good job.” Keep an eye out for tanks rolling down the Mall.

Also expressing an interest is Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen, considered by some as the “voice of the Red Wall”. The chair of the Northern Research Group “appeals to people because he gets what matters,” said one ally. “He is the only well-known member of the party who has actually offered policies.”

Tom Tugendhat has formally joined the race, pitching himself as a “fresh start”. The chair of the foreign affairs committee has been a thorn in the government’s side over Afghanistan, Ukraine and China. Tugendhat is a Remainer, and it’s yet to be seen whether this will count against him or if the Brexit rift has become irrelevant. He’s viewed as a dark horse, but not a no-hoper by any stretch.

Kemi Badenoch, the former levelling up minister, and Robert Buckland, the Wales secretary, have also signalled they’ll have a go.

As for the big Cabinet beasts, Liz Truss, Ben Wallace, Nadhim Zahawi, Grant Shapps, Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid have all indicated they will run. The Hound has profiled the frontrunners.

One prospective candidate that everyone is talking about, but who is yet to declare, is rising star Penny Mordaunt. Reaction’s Maggie Pagano writes about why she’s the one to watch.

One thing’s for sure – the race is wide open.