TORY LEADERSHIP TIMELINE: Theresa May fires starting gun on bitter race
Theresa May has fired the starting gun on the long-awaited Conservative leadership campaign - paving the way for a bitter contest to succeed her in Downing Street.
Within hours, Conservative top brass had worked out the timeline for the leadership contest and made it public. Here is what to expect…
Theresa May officially resigns as Conservative party leader, but will stay on as Prime Minister until a replacement is chosen. She said this morning: “I am today announcing that I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on Friday 7 June so that a successor can be chosen. I have agreed with the Party Chairman and with the Chairman of the 1922 Committee that the process for electing a new leader should begin in the following week. I have kept Her Majesty the Queen fully informed of my intentions, and I will continue to serve as her Prime Minister until the process has concluded.”
Nominations for the Tory leadership contest will close this week, although the precise date is unclear. That means all your Sajid Javids and Penny Mordaunts will have to have come clean by then about whether they intend to stand. As soon as nominations close the official leadership campaign begins. The first stage will see MPs whittle down the numerous candidates to a shortlist. That will involve a number of hustings in Parliament and voting rounds that will see the contestants with the least support eliminated.
End of June
The party wants the parliamentary section of the process concluded by the end of June. That kicks off the next stage of the process: a race to secure the support of the Conservative membership. The current rules dictate that two candidates should end up on the ballot paper, but PoliticsHome reported this week that those rules could be changed to allow four on the ballot. Those final candidates will have to make their pitch to the membership through hustings, as well as “opportunities for non-members and people who may not yet vote Conservative to meet the candidates and put their questions to them too,” Tory bosses said. We could yet see Tory leadership TV hustings.
Chairman Brandon Lewis, alongside vice chairs of the powerful 1922 Committee Dame Cheryl Gillan MP and Charles Walker, said members should have cast their votes and picked the new leader by the summer parliamentary recess. That normally kicks at the end of the third week in July. Last year it began on 24 July while in 2017 it began on 20 July. It means a new Prime Minister could hold their first PMQs the week before MPs go off on their summer holidays, then spend the next few weeks getting to know the country and working out how to fix Brexit.
When he handed Theresa May a Brexit delay up to 31 October, European Council president Donald Tusk said “don’t waste this time”. A Tory leadership race lasting more than two months is probably not what he had in mind.