The humiliating end Thursday of Liz Truss’ historically short UK leadership sparked frenzied speculation over who will replace her — with some even predicting a return of her doomed predecessor Boris Johnson.

Truss only entered 10 Downing Street as the Conservative Party’s pick on Sept. 5 — with her resignation after just 44 days in office Thursday making her the shortest-serving leader in British political history.

She leaves with her ruling Conservative Party more divided than ever — leaving no obvious replacement in her wake.

That makes the leadership battle rife for gamblers eager to make back some of the hard-earned cash they lost due to Truss’ disastrous economic policies.

Liz Truss walks back into Downing Street after announcing her resignation Thursday.
The humiliating resignation of Liz Truss has left the UK once again in turmoil.
AP

Here are the top five favorites according to political pundits and bookies alike.

Rishi Sunak

Britain’s former finance minister was the runner-up to Truss in the previous leadership battle, and the current favorite according to online bookmakers Betfair.

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss onstage after previous leadership hustings in August.
Rishi Sunak was the runner-up to Truss in the previous leadership battle, and the current favorite according to online bookmakers Betfair
AP

He has long been one of the most popular candidates among Conservative lawmakers at Westminster, with many praising him for forewarning of previous economic crises that befell the UK.

Others, however, blame him for some of the financial policies that ultimately led to Truss’ downfall.

Many Members of Parliament (MPs) also blame Sunak for bringing down once-popular PM Johnson by sparking the rebellion with his resignation as finance minister in July. Those party members still loyal to Johnson are likely to put up fierce resistance to Sunak’s aspirations.

Penny Mordaunt

The former defense secretary came third in the previous race, with Betfair suggesting she maintains the same position in the running behind Sunak.

Mordaunt won plaudits for her performance in parliament on Monday, when she defended the government even as it reversed most of its policies.

Penny Mordaunt speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
Penny Mordaunt came third in the previous leadership contest and is said to be a favorite thanks to her “broad appeal.”
UK PARLIAMENT/AFP via Getty Imag

One lawmaker has described Mordaunt as having “broad appeal,” referring to her ability to find friends in the various tribes of the party.

However, others are thought to be wary of taking a chance on an inexperienced candidate at a time of unprecedented troubles.

Jeremy Hunt

Truss had turned to Hunt to try to save her doomed economic policies — and now many believe his party will likewise look to him to take the helm.

While he has been Treasury chief of just three days, Hunt is seen as a safe bet given his vast experience, including spells as both health and foreign minister.

Some lawmakers, in fact, had already started referring to Hunt as the “real prime minister” at the end of Truss’ time.

Jeremy Hunt outside Downing Street on Thursday.
Jeremy Hunt is already being referred to as the “real prime minister,” according to the Times of London.
REUTERS

“As long as he doesn’t annoy the right too much, he’s in the obvious position” as frontrunner, one former minister told The Times of London.

“He’s highly experienced and he has served at the highest level for a long time, which is not something that can be said for some of the other names being bandied around.”

However, Betfair only puts him in seventh place, likely because of his previous bids ending in disaster. In the last campaign, Hunt finished last of eight candidates on the first ballot — with only 18 MPs supporting him.

He pointed to those failures just days ago, suggesting they had ended his leadership ambitions.

“I think having run two leadership campaigns, and by the way failed in both of them, the desire to be leader has been clinically excised from me,” he told the BBC on Sunday.

Boris Johnson

The quirky, Big Apple-born journalist only begrudgingly quit after a show of no confidence in July — and has made no secret of his ongoing political ambitions.

His supporters have been even more vocal, including former culture secretary Nadine Dorries who on Wednesday said that MPs “must demand” BoJo’s return.

Bookmakers Betfair also has Johnson as the third-favorite.

Boris Johnson making his resignation speech outside Downing Street in July.
BoJo is a bookies’ favorite, but many feel he is too risky after his scandals in office — and too interested in making money.
AP

However, political insiders believe he is far too great a risk to be voted back into office, especially as his scandals — including parties defying his own COVID lockdown policies — sparked the current leadership crisis.

Some closest to him also say that he is more interested in making money on the speech circuit than returning to frontline politics.

Ben Wallace

Britain’s current defense secretary is one of the few ministers to have emerged from recent political turmoil with his credibility enhanced.

The former soldier was defense minister for both Johnson and Truss, and has been praised for leading Britain’s response to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Ben Wallace giving a speech earlier this month.
Wallace has been praised for the way he has led Britain’s response to Russia’s war on Ukraine.
REUTERS

He is thought to be a popular choice among pother party members, and at least one cabinet minister is said to be lobbying hard on Wallace’s behalf, according t the UK Times.

However, others are wary of his lack of experience with the economy, the biggest issue that forced Truss from power.

Wallace also surprised many earlier this year when he said he wouldn’t run for the leadership, telling the UK Times he wanted to keep his current defense job “until I finish.”

“I love the job I do and we have more to do. I want the prime minister to be the prime minister and I want to do this job,” he told the UK paper.

With Post wires



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