According to party representatives, the next Conservative leader and UK Prime Minister will be announced on September 5, 2012.
After Boris Johnson’s resignation last week, following a revolt by his Cabinet members and MPs, eleven candidates have so far registered to replace him.
To eliminate excess candidates, the process of progressing in the leadership contest has been made more difficult.
The 1922 backbench committee is responsible for organizing leadership contests. It has decided that candidates will need to receive twenty nominations from Conservative MPs in order to stand. To progress in the contest, they will need to gather this support by 18.00 BST today. At the last contest, only eight nominations were required.
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Candidates will also need at least thirty votes from fellow MPs in the first round of voting to be eligible to move on to the second round.
Two final candidates will be left from the current eleven by the end next week. This will be done through successive voting rounds conducted by Conservative MP’s.
A postal ballot will be used to select the winner from around 160,000 party members.
The current ‘favourite’, with the highest amount of support among MPs is currently Rishi Sunak. Mr Sunak is followed by Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt and then backbencher Tom Tugendhat, who some have described as the “dark horse” of the contest.
Each candidate has attracted the twenty supporters necessary to be on the ballot.
ConservativeHome’s survey shows that Minster for Trade Penny Mourdaunt is the front-runner. Former Minister of State Kemi Badenoch is close behind. Rishi Sunak is third in this survey, despite having the highest level of MP support.
All remaining candidates can still apply for the ballot until 18.00 BST today. Home Secretary Priti Patel, it is believed, is still considering whether or not to run.
The issue of taxes has dominated the contest so far. Nearly all the candidates have pledged to reduce personal or corporate taxes or both. Mr Sunak has not made such pledges, and accused his rivals of “fairytale” economic promises.
During a speech in Gateshead yesterday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer criticised the leadership candidates for their tax pledges, accusing them of entering an “arms race of fantasy economics” and “hypocrisy”, as they supported the tax hikes that were introduced under Boris Johnson.