The next Conservative leader is being selected through a process initially conducted by lawmakers, before the two finalists are presented to the party’s 200,000 members to choose a winner.
Candidates for the Conservative leadership will be forced to agree in writing that they will not withdraw from the race if they are one of the last two names put to a vote by party members, under new plans to prevent MPs from sewing who the next prime minister is.
Senior Conservatives are desperate to prevent one of the candidates from withdrawing from the contest, as Dame Andrea Leadsom did in 2016, handing unchallenged leadership to overwhelming favorite Theresa May before members had a chance to vote.
The Telegraph understands that the leadership rules include a ‘Leadsom clause’, whereby any candidate who makes it to the final two will have to submit to a vote by party members.
A senior party source said each candidate would have to agree that they “must go to the membership vote if you get to the bottom two” when they enter the race.
The hope is that the rules – agreed by the party’s committee and board in 1922 – will allow the field of leadership to be rapidly reduced to a handful of conservative candidates by the weekend.
A senior Conservative lawmaker said the timetable for the selection process had to be truncated due to lawmakers starting their summer break at the end of next week.
This meant there was a “major disadvantage for marginalized candidates” compared to household names. “Some of them aren’t even household names,” a senior Tory told the Telegraph.
Game report: What happened in the fourth round?
Liz Truss received a wave of support as she battles Penny Mordaunt to face Rishi Sunak in the second round of the Conservative leadership election after Kemi Badenoch was eliminated.
Truss won 15 votes to win the support of 86 Conservative lawmakers in the penultimate vote, as the party’s right appears to be rallying around her in the race for number 10.
Mordaunt increased his stake by 10 to 92, while Sunak gained three extra votes to put him at 118, just short of the number that effectively secured his entry into the finals.
Badenoch came last in the poll with 59 votes, and Truss is believed to be more likely to get a significant number of those votes than Mordaunt during the next poll to be held on Wednesday.
Game report: What happened in the third round?
Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak remained in the lead, receiving 115 votes in the third round of voting on Monday, followed by Penny Mordaunt with 82 votes, Liz Truss with 71 and Kemi Badenoch with 58.
Tom Tugendhat was eliminated with just 31 votes.
Game report: What happened in the second round?
Suella Braverman was knocked out on Thursday in the second round.
The results were announced by Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, with Rishi Sunak in the lead with 101 votes and Penny Mordaunt with 83.
On Wednesday, Jeremy Hunt and Nadhim Zahawi were eliminated in the first round after falling short of the 30 votes needed to proceed.
The confrontation begins
Three sets of arrests took place on Monday, July 18 – one by the 1922 Committee and open to all Conservative MPs, one by the group of 92 senior Conservative MPs and one by the anti-agreed-up group Common Sense.
Officials from the Conservative Central Office will now take over and organize a series of rustings at the party’s regional bases across the country so members can interrogate the two remaining candidates.
The hustings – which in 2019 were held in places like Belfast, York, Darlington, Perth, Nottingham and Cardiff – will allow thousands of voting members to question the two finalists.
Conservative members will be encouraged to vote for their choice to be the next Conservative Party leader by mail by the end of August.
When will the next prime minister be announced?
The winner will be announced on Monday, September 5th.
The new Conservative leader and prime minister will have two days to prepare for his first meeting with Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer on Wednesday 7 September.
This article is kept up to date with the latest information.