BORIS Johnson’s successor will be announced on September 5 after Tory MPs commenced the process of voting for a new leader on Wednesday.
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak topped the ballot, followed by trade minister Penny Mordaunt and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. Senior backbencher Tom Tugendhat, Attorney General Suella Braverman and former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch also secured enough votes to progress to the final six candidates.
Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and former Cabinet minister Jeremy Hunt were eliminated in the first round as they failed to get the required 30 votes.
Here is a timetable for the rest of the leadership contest.
– Thursday July 14: Second round of voting by Conservative MPs. The field will be narrowed as the least popular candidate gets knocked out.
– Friday July 15: First debate. Channel 4 will hold the first TV Tory leadership debate with the remaining candidates at 7pm.
– Sunday July 17: Second debate. ITV will host a televised debate at 7pm.
– Monday July 18: Third round of voting. The ballot on Monday and subsequent rounds will eliminate the contender with the fewest votes until only two remain – 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.”
– Monday July 18: Third debate. Sky News is scheduled to host another TV debate, hosted by Kay Burley.
– 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.
– 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