After Theresa May announced that she will step down on Friday 7 June as the leader of the Conservative party, the race to find her successor is due to officially commence the following Monday. Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis, along with the vice-chairs of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers, have issued a joint statement laying out the process for this contest. Notably 1922 chair Graham Brady’s name is missing from the statement – leading to speculation he has recused himself on the grounds that the Tory backbencher may run himself.
Under the new timetable, nominations will close in the week commencing 10 June. Then there will be ‘successive rounds of voting’ which will keep going until a final choice of two candidates remain. At this point, the choice of the two candidates – whittled down from the main crop by the Parliamentary party – will be put to a vote of all party members. The Parliamentary stage is expected to conclude by the end of June – allowing ‘for a series of hustings around the UK for members to meet and question the candidates, then cast their votes in time for the result to be announced before parliament rises for the summer’.
By this timeline, there ought to be a new prime minister in place by mid-July. There is a sense that the victor will need all the time they can get in office to work out a Brexit strategy and get to grips with the government machine. Most of the candidates are expected to at the very least countenance a no-deal Brexit at the end of October when the extension runs out – if they cannot renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement. Such a move could lead to a general election if Parliament tried to stop it (potentially through a no-confidence vote in the government). It follows that the new leader needs as much time as possible to make their mark before then.