How does the Tory leadership contest work?

The backbench 1922 Committee has set the rules and timetable for picking the next UK prime minister

The Conservative party’s 1992 Committee of backbench MPs on Monday announced the rules and procedure to elect the party’s new leader and therefore the next prime minister. This is how the contest will work.

Who is eligible to stand?

In an attempt to exclude fringe candidates, the committee has made it harder for MPs to enter into and progress in the leadership contest.

Candidates will need the backing of 20 named Conservative MPs to enter the race, and must gain votes from at least 30 MPs in order to pass the first ballot on Wednesday evening.

In the previous Tory leadership contest in 2019, when there were 10 candidates, the first ballot threshold was 17 votes.

Who can vote in the contest?

All 358 Tory MPs will vote in the first ballot on Wednesday, with a second ballot to be held on Thursday. Further ballots will be held next week until the list of contenders is down to two finalists.

There will also be two televised leadership debates next week, the first on Sunday 17 July on ITV at 7pm, and the second on Monday 18 July on Sky News.

Bob Blackman, the joint executive secretary of the 1922 Committee, said the aim was to have the contest down to a final two by 21 July, before the start of MPs’ summer holidays.

About 160,000 Conservative party members will then select the winner in a postal ballot, with hustings held across the country over the summer to help them make their choice.


Who are the candidates?

As of Tuesday, there are 10 candidates in the contest, with the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, having dropped out.

The former chancellor Rishi Sunak, the trade minister Penny Mordaunt and Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the foreign affairs select committee, look to already have the declared backers to make the threshold.

Several other candidates, including the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, the chancellor, Nadhim Zahawi, the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt and the former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch were close enough before nominations formally opened to suggest they will be in the race.

Insiders from the former health secretary Sajid Javid’s campaign were also confident of making the cut, as were allies of the attorney general, Suella Braverman.

The backbencher Rehman Chishti’s low-key campaign does not appear to have caught the imagination of his colleagues and he may well be eliminated in the first ballot.

Who are the favourites?

Mordaunt is the current frontrunner, with a narrow lead over Badenoch, according to a poll from Conservative Home.

However, Sunak has the most declared public endorsements from MPs so far, including the deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, and Shapps.

The Brexit opportunities minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and the culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, have come out in support of Truss.

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What are the key issues?

The contest so far has been dominated by taxation, with nearly all of the candidates pledging cuts to personal or business taxes, or both. Sunak is alone among the contenders in not promising immediate tax cuts if he wins.

When will we have a new prime minister?

Boris Johnson’s successor will be confirmed on 5 September, when MPs return to Westminster from their summer break, Sir Graham Brady, the chair of the 1922 Committee, has announced. As the candidates kicked off their campaigns, Brady said he hoped the contest would involve “proper constructive debate”, adding it had already been “lively”.

The contest follows Johnson’s resignation last week after a revolt among his MPs and ministers.


David Batty

The GuardianTramp

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