AND they’re off! After weeks of political jostling, the Tory leader hopefuls are finally out of the starting blocks.
But how does the process actually work and will the wannabe PMs be tested on TV? Here’s the latest.
When is the Tory leadership election?
Theresa May will remain a lame duck or “caretaker” Prime Minister right until her successor is announced on July 22.
Remember how back in 2016 she became PM entirely without opposition? It’s looking a bit more competitive this time round.
But before May finally steps down, there’s a complex six week parliamentary process ahead. Here’s how’s it shaping up.
Friday, June 7
Theresa May officially stepped down as PM after repeatedly failing to get Tory MPs to back her Brexit plans.
The Maidenhead MP – who will continue to represent her constituency – made a tearful farewell on May 24, triggering the current leadership race.
May’s formal farewell on June 7 came a day after entertaining Donald Trump on his first official state visit to the UK.
Monday, June 10
A total of eleven MPs are expected to put themselves forward as Tory leader, after two dropped out.
Nominations open at 10am today on June 10, and close at 5pm.
Every MP going for the top job has to be backed by eight MPs, made up of a proposer, seconder and a further six colleagues.
None of the 1922 Committee officers or chairman are able to campaign on behalf of a candidate, though they do all get a vote.
The whole race is overseen by 1922 Committee acting co-chairs Dame Cheryl Gillan and Charles Walker.
Tory leadership election in brief
- June 7 – Theresa May officially resigns
- June 10 (today) – Tory leadership hopefuls have until 5pm to enter the race
- June 11-12 – 1922 committee hustings (secret)
- June 13 – Tory MPs’ first ballot – elimates least popular candidate
- June 17 – Second hustings of Tory MPs (secret)
- June 18 – Second ballot of Tory MPs – eliminate bottom 10 per cent
- June 19-20 – MPs take part in ballots until only 2 candidates remain
- June 22 – Tory party members vote between last two in a postal ballot
- July 22 – Next PM is announced in the following week
Tuesday/Wednesday June 11-12
This is the first time leadership hopefuls will go face to face – but we won’t hear a fig about it.
The press aren’t permitted inside as MPs might be “frightened” of speaking their mind – that’s according to Charles Walker, the chief of the 1922 committee, which is hosting the event.
The first one takes place on June 11 at 3-7pm, and continues the following day at 4-6pm.
Thursday, June 13
Tory MPs will hold their first ballot as they eliminate the least popular candidate between 10am and noon – all in a morning’s work.
They do this by casting their vote for their chosen candidate in oak-panelled committee room 14
This first whittling down also removes any of the candidates who get 5% of the Tory Party backing – equivalent to 16 or fewer MPs.
The losers will then be announced in alphabetical order just an hour later, at 1pm.
Monday, June 17
Tory MPs hold their second, top-secret hustings in Committee Room 14 from 3-7pm.
Tuesday, June 18
It’s back to Parliament for Tory MPs to whittle out the most unpopular candidate still on the ballot.
The stakes are higher, and so are the numbers – now anyone with 32 of fewer Tory MPs (10 per cent of the party) is automatically slashed.
At this point the number of candidates should have shrunk somewhat – with many not making the 10 per cent cut or quitting voluntarily.
The ballot runs from 3pm-5pm, with the vote announced at 6pm.
Weds-Thurs, June 19-20
At this stage it’s a process of getting the hopefuls down to just two remaining MPs on the list.
To do this there’ll be as many ballots as it takes.
Ballot 3 will run from 3-5pm on Wednesday, with the next from 10am to noon the next day.
Ballot 5 follows promptly afterwards from 3.30-5.30pm.
And the elimination process could run long into the night – as long as it takes to get down to the final two.
Saturday, June 22
While Tory MPs are instrumental in whittling the list down, it’s the Conservative Party members will have the deciding vote on who will be our next Prime Minister.
The Tories have 160,000 members who will have a month to make up their minds through a postal ballot.
The two final candidates are expected to tour the country to persuade those able to vote who they think will make a better leader.
Hustings are set to take place in every part of the UK as the leadership campaign ramps up in its final stages.
Monday, July 22
Theresa May’s successor is due to be announced in the week starting July 22.
The sitting PM is expected to end her term by visiting the Queen to officially hand in her resignation.
Just minutes later, our next PM will be called to Buckingham Palace, where the Queen will ask them to form the next government.
As it stands, the next Prime Minister will be in office for at least three years, until the next scheduled General Election in 2022.
Who are the candidates?
Here are the current runners and the riders – though we won’t know if they’ve all put themselves forward until close of play on June 10.
- James Cleverly
- Michael Gove
- Sam Gyimah
- Matt Hancock
- Jeremy Hunt
- Sajid Javid
- Boris Johnson
- Andrea Leadsom
- Esther McVey
- Dominic Raab
- Rory Stewart
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Who will take part in the TV debate?
There are a number of small screen battles set to take place – but as ever with political programming, you never quite know who will take part until moments before.
Currently Channel 4 plans to host a 90-minute debate on Sunday, June 16 at 6.30pm between the remaining candidates.
Channel 4’s director of programmes Ian Katz has said it is “vital that they are properly tested before the wider electorate”.
The BBC has also announced plans for several debates, including one in a special edition of BBC Question Time with Fiona Bruce.
Likewise, Sky News has said it’s organising a head-to-head between the final two candidates, hosted by Kay Burley.
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