At least one Tory leadership candidate faces the chop as MPs hold first ballot
Tory MPs will begin whittling down the list of leadership candidates later as the first round of voting in the contest to succeed Theresa May gets underway.
Those hoping to take on the top job will need at least 17 votes from fellow Conservative MPs to make it through the first ballot of the contest, with anyone failing to secure that number automatically eliminated from the race.
And under Conservative rules, the lowest-ranking candidate will have to quit the race.
The ballot takes place between 10am and 12pm, with results expected to be read out by party bosses at 1pm.
The vote comes after a flurry of campaign launches by Tory contenders, with frontrunner Boris Johnson on Wednesday promising "a new vigour, a new confidence, a new optimism" if he seizes the crown.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid also formally kicked off his campaign with a blast at "Westminster insiders" vying for the Conservative leadership.
That followed campaign launches earlier in the week from Cabinet ministers Jeremy Hunt, Matt Hancock, Michael Gove and Rory Stewart, with former ministers Dominic Raab, Andrea Leadsom, Mark Harper and Esther McVey also making their pitch to MPs.
Speaking ahead of Thursday's vote, former Commons leader Ms Leadsom - who made it to the final two in 2016 - urged candidates not to withdraw from the race if Mr Johnson came top in the first round of voting.
She told ITV's Peston: "Personally I’m the one person who would not withdraw in a million years in this leadership campaign, precisely because I withdrew last time.
"But this time we have to get it right, it’s absolutely vital."
Speaking about her experience of the 2016 battle against Theresa May, the former Commons leader added: "What’s absolutely clear to me is that in hindsight it would have been good for the candidates to have been tested.
"At the time, with the facts available at the time, it seemed to me that the right thing to do was to pull out.
"Clearly that was not the right thing to do, in hindsight. So now it’s vital that the country and the Parliamentary party get to see who those leadership candidates are."
Following Thursday's vote, a second ballot of MPs is slated for 18 June in which candidates will need at least 33 votes to go through.
A third ballot is then on the cards for the following day, with a fourth and fifth scheduled on 20 June if needed.
The two candidates left at the end of the process will then face a vote of the wider Conservative membership, with the new leader in place on 22 July.