Key dates in the Conservative leadership contest

Key dates in the Conservative leadership contest


he Conservative Party has begun to process of selecting a new leader following Boris Johnson’s dramatic resignation.

But how exactly does the contest work?

Here are the key dates and stages in the race to Number 10.

Tuesday July 12: Nominations open and close. In order to stand, a candidate will need the support of at least 20 MPs – potentially making it harder for some of the less well-known contenders to make it onto the ballot paper.

Eleven candidates stated their intention to run for the top job. That was whittled down to eight once the nominations closed: Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Penny Mordaunt, Tom Tugendhat, Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braverman, Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi.

The eight candidates going into the first ballot of Tory MPs on Wednesday

/ Getty Images

Wednesday July 13: First ballot held between 1.30pm and 3.30pm with the result announced at 5pm. Candidates need at least 30 votes to make it to the next round.

Of the eight candidates, two – Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi – failed to make the cut and crashed out of the contest.

The previous Tory leadership contest in 2019, which had 10 candidates, saw a first ballot threshold of just 17 votes required, with the greater number this time around perhaps reflecting a desire to more quickly whittle down contenders.

Thursday July 14: Second ballot. A second ballot followed on Thursday with candidates having to clear at least 30 votes to make it to the next stage, with the MP with the fewest votes falling out if they all cleared that threshold.

The result of that ballot saw the Attorney General knocked out with just 27 votes. Further ballots to be held next week – starting on Monday -until the list of candidates is reduced to a final two, who will then go forward into a postal ballot of party members.

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

He told Sky News: “We’ve got to slim down the list of candidates pretty quickly to two.

“And the one thing that we’re committed to do is to achieve getting to two candidates by Thursday July 21.

“That means that we’ll hold a succession of ballots over the next few days in order to get to that position.”

Friday July 15: First TV debate between candidates will be held on Channel 4 at 7.30pm.

Sunday July 17: ITV will hold the second Tory leadership debate at 7pm.

Monday July 18: The next round of voting will take place , with five candidates remaining in the race. The candidate with the fewest votes will be knocked out of the race.

Tuesday July 19: Another vote in the Tory leadership contest was held as the remaining candidates battle to make the final two and become the next prime minister.

Conservative MPs casted their vote in this round between noon to 2pm and Kemi Badenoch was eliminated.

Sky News was scheduled to host another debate at 8pm, hosted by Kay Burley, but has been cancelled after Mr Sunak and Ms Truss pulled out.

Wednesday July 20: Tory MPs will on Wednesday select the two candidates to be put to the party’s membership in the race for No 10 with a result expected at around 4pm.

Sunak and Truss will go head-to-head in the battle to replace Boris Johnson as Tory leader and Prime Minister.

The pair emerged in first and second place in the final ballot of Tory MPs with former favourite Penny Mordaunt crashing out.

In the final ballot, Mr Sunak won 137 votes with Ms Truss on 113 and Ms Mordaunt on 105.

Friday July 22 onwards: Hustings are to take place around the country over the summer to help party members determine their choice for the new Conservative leader.

Mr Blackman said it is a “condition of nomination” for candidates to agree that they will contest the ballot of party members if they reach the final two.

This is to avoid a situation as in 2016, when Dame Andrea Leadsom dropped out, handing the leadership unchallenged to Theresa May before party members were given the opportunity to vote.

Ahead of the winner to be announced, a postal ballot will be completed by around 160,000 Conservative party members.

Monday July 25: The BBC said it will host a TV debate between the final two candidates in the Tory leadership race.

The corporation said the debate, Our Next Prime Minister, would take place in front of an audience of between 80 to 100 people in Stoke-on-Trent and would air at 9pm on BBC One.

It will be presented by Sophie Raworth.

Thursday August 4: Sky announced that the final two candidates will take part in a televised debate.

Monday September 5: New Conservative leader announced. The new prime minister will be announced on September 5 when MPs return to Westminster from their summer break.

Dates of hustings events

The pair will participate in 12 hustings organised by the party across the UK Tory members, will put questions to the candidate during the hustings.

The dates and venues are: Leeds on July 28, Exeter on August 1, Cardiff on August 3, Eastbourne on August 5, Darlington on August 9 and Cheltenham on August 11.

Then they head to Scotland for a hustings in Perth on August 16 and to Northern Ireland for August 17.

In England, they head to Manchester on August 19, Birmingham on August 23, and Norwich on August 25 before wrapping up in London on August 31.

The events will be streamed online.