With nominations for the next Conservative party leader and prime minister well under way, Rishi Sunak was in the lead on Saturday, having already passed the 100 threshold, followed by Boris Johnson and Penny Mordaunt. But what happens next?
As the party prepares to choose its third leader in little more than six weeks, here’s a step-by-step guide to the process.
How will Liz Truss’s successor be chosen?
Nominations are flooding in, having opened on Thursday night, and will close at 2pm on Monday. To get to the next stage, candidates must have the support of a minimum of 100 Conservative MPs (there are 357 in total).
What happens when nominations close?
If by the deadline only one candidate manages to gain the support of at least 100 of their colleagues, that person will become the next leader of the Conservative party and the country.
If more than one candidate passes the 100 threshold, then between 3.30pm and 5.30pm on Monday 24 October there will be a vote among Tory MPs, with results announced at 6pm.
If there are three candidates, the person with the fewest votes will be eliminated and there will be a further round of votes between the final two between 6.30pm and 8.30pm, with the result announced at 9pm.
If, after that process, two candidates still remain – meaning nobody has withdrawn – the 1922 Committee (the Conservative party’s 18-member executive, which is running the process) is leaving the final decision to Conservative party members. Last time, in September, the party membership voted for Truss, despite Sunak leading among MPs.
This final round of voting by qualifying members would, the party says, be done using a “secure online voting” system, with the ballot closing at 11am on Friday 28 October. The result would then be announced later the same day.
There would also be at least one hustings between the final two, expected to be broadcast by the BBC.
When will it all be over?
The winner will be declared by the end of Friday 28 October.
Could Conservative party members be left out of the process?
While leaving them out of the voting process entirely would probably necessitate a change to the party’s constitution, there are two ways that party members could not be called upon to vote. One would be if one of the last two candidates pulls out – as Andrea Leadsom did in 2016 when Theresa May became leader. And the second would be if only one candidate makes it above the 100 vote threshold from MPs.
Once a final candidate is settled on, how do they then become PM?
The winner of the contest will become leader of the party. Then, the King will ask them to form a government, making them Britain’s next prime minister.
Could there be a general election?
Despite calls from the Labour party for one, the appointment of a new prime minister does not require a general election. Officially, the next general election could be as late as January 2025. With the Conservatives far behind in the polls, it is considered unlikely that a new prime minister would risk a general election in the near future, but they could decide to call one earlier.