Ten MPs qualify for first round of battle for Conservative Party leadership

Leadership race begins with nominations of contenders to take control of the Conservative Party.

Britain's Conservative Party is holding an election to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, who resigned last week after failing to lead Britain out of the European Union on schedule. AP
Britain's Conservative Party is holding an election to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, who resigned last week after failing to lead Britain out of the European Union on schedule. AP

Ranging from millionaire entrepreneurs to adventurers and authors, the contest to lead the Western world’s most successful political force was launched in earnest on Monday.

Following the resignation of Prime Minister Theresa May, who’s time in 10 Downing St, was shaped by the failure to deliver Britain’s exit from the EU, a crowded field of well-known frontline politicians and backroom fixers was unveiled by party managers.

Cheryl Gillian, the vice-chairman of the party's 1922 Committee announced the list of MPs going through to the first round due to be held on Thursday. Those in the running were required to submit paperwork showing support from at least eight of their colleagues before their candidacy was confirmed.

Just minutes before the final list of candidates was released, Sam Gyimah MP pulled out of the race, citing a lack of "enough time" to build support.

The process is expected to take around six weeks, with ballots of all 313 Conservative Party MPs on 13, 18, 19 and 20 June to eliminate candidates until they are down to two people. Each time, they vote in a secret ballot. They are allowed to vote by proxy if they are not available to vote in person.

Voting will take place in a room in parliament, which will be set up with voting booths. The colour of the ballot paper is chosen the day before and will be different for each round. Completed papers will be placed in a metal ballot box.

The first round of voting will eliminate any candidate with 16 votes or fewer. If all candidates have more than 16 votes, the one with the fewest votes is eliminated. The second round will eliminate any candidate with 32 votes or fewer, or the person with the fewest votes.

Hustings between the two final contenders will be held and a final vote opened up to all 160,000 Conservative members from June 22. The winner will be announced a month later.

As the Tories have the most MPs in parliament, the leader of the party will become Britain's Prime Minister.

The ten candidates are Michael Gove, Matt Hancock, Mark Harper, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey, Dominic Raab and Rory Stewart.

Former Foreign Secretary and Mayor of London Boris Johnson is polling best with Conservative Party members, with Environment Secretary Michael Gove and current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt making up the top three.

Adventurer-turned-MP Rory Stewart's out-and-about social media campaign and admission to smoking opium has garnered him attention both positive and negative.

Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey are the only two women in the contest. Former banker Ms Leadsom has run for leadership of the party before, dropping out to make way for Theresa May's troubled stint in charge.

Ms McVey's Monday leadership launch was interrupted by a Brexiteer who shouted: "You are fake news! You are all fake Conservatives," before being barrelled from the room. Ms McVey used to present a morning television show before moving into politics.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid, state-school-educated son of a Pakistani bus driver, would become the first prime minister from an ethnic minority background should he win the contest.

Health secretary Matt Hancock, well-known for creating a specific app to communicate with his constituents, gave out party bags at his campaign launch.

Mark Harper, a Remainer who says he will stand by the result of the 2016 EU referendum, is low down the list of potential future leaders.

Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has said he will leave the EU without a deal if Brussels refuses to ditch the Irish backstop in a new deal.

Updated: June 10, 2019 09:53 PM

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