The terms and timelines for next week’s Conservative Leadership Election contest, and potential runners and riders

The Chair of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady and Chair of the Conservative Party, Jake Berry have made a statement following meetings this afternoon between the Board of the Party and 1922 Executive.

They have agreed the terms and timelines for next week’s Conservative Leadership Election contest:

  • Candidates will require 100 Conservative MPs to nominate them to make the final ballot (compared to only 20 in the last leadership contest). The purpose of this is to narrow the field down quickly and ensure there is a large base of Parliamentary support behind the new PM. It means that there can only be three candidates in total, with MPs deciding which two candidates should go to the wider members vote and may also mean that former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is unable to reach the threshold, where he remains very popular with party members.

  • The first round of nominations has now opened and will close on Monday 24th October at 2pm, results of this will be at 6pm.

  • If required this will be followed by a second ballot later that day, results at 9pm. There will be a “behind closed doors” hustings on Monday to MPs if there are more than two candidates.

  • If there is only one candidate who receives the 100 MP nomination threshold, they will become Party Leader immediately and not require ratification from Conservative Party members. We could therefore have a new PM in place by Monday.

  • If there are two candidates after Monday, a membership ballot will take place in an online process with this closing on 11am on Friday 28thOctober, the result would be announced shortly after.

Conservative leadership contest – potential runners and riders

Boris Johnson

  • Less than two months after his resignation and the swathe of mass ministerial resignations that led to it, there is widespread expectation that Boris Johnson will stand in the new Tory leadership contest, with 1922 Committee rules no longer preventing him from standing again.
  • The former PM is “taking soundings” from friends and is said to believe he can turn the Conservative Party around, and sees a potential bid as a matter of the national interest.
  • Whilst Johnson enjoys support amongst the membership, with polling showing a majority of members think he was wrong to resign in the first place, the rules set out by the 1922 Committee will likely prevent him from running.
  • The parliamentary party poses the biggest hurdle for Johnson, with many MPs opposed to his return, with at least one anonymous Tory MP reported to have threatened to cross the benches should he be re-elected as leader and PM.
  • With 100 MPs required to nominate candidates for the ballot, it looks unlikely that he will garner enough support amongst the parliamentary party to stand.
  • This being said, Johnson also currently has the most MPs publicly declared in support of him, with many loyal backers advocating his return – as of 6pm on 20th October he has 20 MP backers. 

Including: Paul Bristow; James Duddridge; Nadine Dorries; Brendan Clarke-Smith; Michael Fabricant; Stephen McPartland; Marco Longhi; Andrea Jenkyns; Andrew Stephenson; Lia Nici; Christopher Chope; James Grundy; Shaun Bailey; Karl McCartney; Amanda Milling; Peter Bone

Rishi Sunak

  • The runner-up to Liz Truss in the recent leadership election, when he was Conservative MPs’ favoured candidate, is widely understood to be considering a second bid.
  • Sunak will be bolstered by recent turmoil following Truss’ proposed economic measures and subsequent U-turns, with his warnings over tax cuts and market disruption being proven right.
  • He will be seen as a voice of calm and competence by many but by no means enjoys the confidence of all Tory MPs, and will have a difficult job unifying the party’s right behind him in a potential bid. There is widespread expectation that Jeremy Hunt could remain as Chancellor should Sunak become the next PM, with their economic priorities aligning.
  • As of 20th October 6pm he has 18 backers, being supported publicly by the following:  

Dominic Raab, Crispin Blunt; Julie Marson; Richard Holden; Angela Richardson; Steve Double; Kevin Hollinrake; Jo Gideon; Paul Maynard; John Glen; Andrew Bowie; Anthony Mangnall; Simon Hart; Craig Williams; John Stevenson; Gary Streeter; Andrew Murrison; Dominic Raab; Simon Jupp

Penny Mordaunt

  • The summer leadership contest’s third-place finisher is a near-certainty to stand again, and could enjoy strong chances of success should she do so.
  • Despite being inside the Truss Government as Leader of the Commons, she was not a prominent face amongst the contentious decisions taken, and the role has also allowed her the opportunity to display her relative talent at the despatch box in Truss’ absence.
  • She will be seen as a candidate relatively unbound by strong ideological ties, and could likely be one of the most popular choices with MPs and the wider public.
  • As of 20th October 6pm she has 6 MPs backing her. Her current backers include:

Derek Thomas; Bob Seely; Maria Miller; John Lamont; Damian Collins; Andrea Leadsom

Ben Wallace

  • Another widely expected contender is Ben Wallace, who amidst chaos in the last two Governments has been seen to ‘get on with the job’ and not be embroiled in controversy.
  • Seen as another non-ideological candidate of competence and assurance, he enjoys good levels of popularity among Tory members.
  • He has been in his role as Defence Secretary since 24 July 2019.
  • He has not been backed publicly by colleagues thus far.

Suella Braverman

  • With the former Home Secretary’s resignation serving as the first domino in yesterday’s turmoil, Braverman is expected to be considering a potential bid for leadership.
  • Seen as an ideological champion of the Tory right with her outspoken views on ‘woke’ issues and culture wars, she may well have bolstered her support amongst ideologically-aligned colleagues with her pointed resignation letter, and strong stance on immigration (a row that has been rumoured to have played a large part in her resignation).
  • Despite support amongst the party’s right, her prospects remain slim and she will likely not garner enough backers.

Kemi Badenoch

  • It is believed that the current International Trade Secretary is considering her candidacy, after finishing fourth in the party’s summer leadership race.
  • Like Braverman, Badenoch’s self-styled ‘anti-woke’, small government pitch won her plenty of admirers on the Right of the party. During her time as Equalities Minister, she drew both praise and criticism for challenging the idea that there is institutional and structural racism in the UK.
  • Critics have expressed concern about her ability to transform headline-grabbing words into workable policy and her lack of experience to take on the role at this time.

 Brandon Lewis

  • Brandon Lewis is reportedly considering running to replace Liz Truss.
  • Seen as a pragmatist rather than an ideologue, Lewis is an experienced minister and considered to be a unity candidate.
  • Most recently the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Lewis has served in successive Conservative governments since 2012.
  • A source briefed the press earlier today on Lewis that ““People are turning to him – he’s a pragmatist not an ideologue, has a strong record of delivery and most experienced minister in Government…”

James Cleverly, Michael Gove and Tom Tugendhat have all declared that they will not run in the contest.

Perspectives of a Former Minister: The UK Government’s Approach to Life Sciences

Insights from the Northern Transport Summit 2024

Add PLMR to your contacts

PLMR’s crisis communications experience is second to none, and includes pre-emptive and reactive work across traditional and social media channels. We work with a range of organisations to offer critical communication support when they are faced with difficult and challenging scenarios.