Conservative Party Leadership

It was a rare moment of clarity when Graham Brady, the Chairman of the Conservative 1922 Committee, announced the five candidates for the leadership on Thursday 30 June. Nominations have closed, these five will stand.

Of the candidates, only the Home Secretary Theresa May was a definite candidate at the start of the week. Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb was said to be considering a run – but then so was Nicky Morgan and Jeremy Hunt. Crabb is now on a ticket with the Business Secretary Sajid Javid and has mustered significant support, especially among the newer intakes. It had seemed that Liam Fox was testing the water but he is a fully-fledged candidate; in practice the former Defence Secretary must hope this is a route back into government. Andrea Leadsom, the Energy Minister, was a prominent Leave campaigner and decided to stand when she could not secure guarantees of a top job from other candidates. But, of course, the biggest shock of all is that the obvious and seemingly unstoppable frontrunner, former Mayor Boris Johnson is out of the race, slain by his former ally and long-time friend Michael Gove, our fifth candidate for Prime Minister.

A link to our summary of the runners and riders can be found below. Caveats around the fast-changing nature of this political news cycle are especially important at this time. We will be following the twists and turns of the contest in coming weeks.

The process

The first ballot of MPs will be held on Tuesday 5 July. Candidates with the fewest votes drop out after each ballot and ballots continue every Tuesday and Thursday until only two candidates remain. In theory there could be three ballots on Tuesday 5 July, Thursday 7 July and Tuesday 12 July before two candidates remain, although it may be quicker if more than one candidate drops out at the same time. The 125,000 members of the Conservative Party can then choose between the last two candidates. It is expected this contest will be concluded by 9 September.

Conservative party leadership contenders

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