We are only days away from finding out who out of Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak will become the next leader of the Conservative Party and the UK’s new prime minister.
Once the outcome of the race for the top job is announced, the next question will be who the freshly crowned premier chooses to sit around their cabinet table.
We take a look at some rumored candidates predicted to take a seat in either a Truss and Sunak government.
The man or woman holding the purse strings in Number 11 is a key appointment in any new cabinet, but particularly at a time when the country is going through a cost of living crisis.
For Ms Truss – once touted as the next chancellor – the whispers in Westminster over her choice have turned into more of a bellow, with most expecting the job to go to her long-time ally, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.
She will be keen to keep Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke on side after his support for her, despite being Mr Sunak’s right-hand man in the department.
There are also suggestions veteran backbencher Sir John Redwood could make a return to the front bench after 30 years for a role in Number 11.
For ex-chancellor Mr Sunak, prominent backer Steve Barclay is seen as a likely choice, especially with his experience as chief secretary to the Treasury during Mr Sunak’s first 18 months in the job.
A senior position in the department would also be expected for Mel Stride, who not only chairs the Treasury Select Committee in the Commons, but has been leading the campaign to get Mr Sunak into Number 10.
And former leadership contender Kemi Badenoch could follow in his and Ms Truss’ steps by being appointed chief secretary to the Treasury after her impressive run in the contest.
Ms Truss never resigned from her role in the Foreign Office when ministers were jumping ship from Boris Johnson’s government, so if she becomes PM, she may take extra care in appointing her successor.
Rumors suggest the post could go to James Cleverly – a fellow Johnson loyalist and someone who has worked in her department as a minister for two years.
For Mr Sunak, the choice is less obvious.
Michael Gove is said to be keen on the job and could be in for a reward after publicly backing him – and slamming his rival in the process.
However, he isn’t expecting the role, saying in the same article: “I do not expect to be in government again. But it was the privilege of my life to spend 11 years in the cabinet under three prime ministers.”
The man currently running the Ministry of Defense is Ben Wallace.
He has come out in support of Ms Truss, so he could probably rest easy about staying in a job he loves if she wins.
But even Mr Sunak would be expected to keep him on due to his performance during the crisis in Ukraine.
There could still be some new faces in the department though in the shape of former leadership candidates.
Penny Mordaunt is a former defense secretary with a naval background, while Tom Tugendhat chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee and is an army veteran, so rumors abound that they could both secure roles in the MoD.
Another person keen to keep hold of her job is Priti Patel, who has run the Home Office for three years.
She told Sky News “my record speaks volumes” when asked if she wanted to stay on, and keeping her in place could be a good way to secure support from the right wing of the Tory Party for either candidate.
But there are a couple of other names floating around.
For Ms Truss, the rumor is she wants to put Attorney General Suella Braverman into the department after polls suggested she was popular among members during the early rounds of the leadership contest.
For Mr Sunak, it could be another leadership contender that he lines up for the role – Jeremy Hunt.
He has a lot of front bench experience, having already been foreign secretary and health secretary, so could be seen as a safe pair of hands.
Other cabinet roles
The above may be the headline jobs, but there is plenty of chatter about other posts that could come to MPs waiting eagerly by their phones once the new PM takes office.
Ms Truss is expected to thank Therese Coffey for her loyalty throughout the contest by either appointing her as chief whip or as a minister in the Cabinet Office.
It is also thought she wants to make a place for former Brexit minister Lord Frost in her top team, though his being in the Lords rather than the Commons means there will be some limitations.
When it comes to other former candidates, reports suggest ex-health secretary Sajid Javid could become Northern Ireland secretary, despite his resignation from Mr Johnson’s cabinet appearing to spark his boss’ downfall.
But this would leave Brandon Lewis out of a job, and as a constant support for her on the airwaves, he could be expecting a promotion.
Another hopeful leadership who could turn her candidacy into a cabinet job is Ms Badenoch, with the rumors pointing to either education or culture.
The latter, of course, would see Nadine Dorries pushed out, but the Johnson and Truss loyalist could perhaps keep hold of her role if the new PM plumps for the former.
Another notion swirling around is Jacob Rees-Mogg could be moved to run the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities, though there is some debate about whether it would be a good fit.
And while a job hasn’t been nailed down for him yet, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith is expected to return to the cabinet table if Ms Truss wins.
The rumors on further appointments for Mr Sunak are slightly more muted – perhaps because of Ms Truss’ front-runner status – but all is not quiet.
Two particular cabinet returns to look out for would be from former Tory chairman Oliver Dowden, who quit in June after the loss of two by-elections in one day, and Robert Jenrick, who was sacked as housing secretary by Mr Johnson.
The three have been tight allies and stuck together before, writing a joint article back in 2019 about how only Mr Johnson could save the Tory Party.
Justice secretary is seen as a likely fit for lawyer Mr Jenrick, while Mr Dowden could see a role in the Cabinet Office.
Another return to frontline politics could also be in line for Gavin Williamson.
He was sacked in the 2021 Johnson reshuffle after much criticism of his work as education secretary, but a job back in the whips’ office, running discipline for Mr Sunak, could be on the cards.
He may also want to keep Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab in post, someone who has been a vocal supporter throughout the contest and willing to attack Ms Truss.
And talk suggests Grant Shapps could be moved up a rung in the cabinet to become business secretary.
What about each other?
It used to be a bit of a tradition to give your leadership opponent a job in cabinet after you beat them.
But after the Johnson vs Hunt battle of 2019, and no love lost between Ms Truss and Mr Sunak during a blue-on-blue attack laden contest, it seems unlikely.
There had been rumors that Ms Truss wanted to offer Mr Sunak the job of health secretary if she won (a role which is expected to go to current Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi if he declines).
But her rival appeared to rule out taking such a job, telling the BBC that being in cabinet means “you really need to agree with the big things because it’s tough as I found if you don’t”.
And any return for Mr Johnson? Both candidates have ruled out giving him a job.