The 1922 Committee rules and how the Tories will elect a new Prime Minister

Conservative leadership candidates will be forced to agree in writing that they will not withdraw from the contest if they are in the final two names put to a vote of the party’s members, under new plans to stop MPs stitching up who is the next prime minister. 

Senior Tories are desperate to stop one of the candidates withdrawing from the contest as Dame Andrea Leadsom did in 2016, handing the leadership unchallenged to the overwhelming favourite Theresa May before members were given a chance to vote. 

The Telegraph understands that leadership rules to be agreed on Monday include a ‘Leadsom clause’ under which any candidate who makes it to the final two will have to submit themselves to a vote of party members. 

One senior party source said each candidate would have to agree that they “must go to the ballot of members if you get to the last two” when they enter the contest. 

The next Conservative leader is being selected by a process initially run by the MPs before the final two are put in front of the party’s 200,000 members to select a winner. 

The hope is that the rules agreed on Monday by both the party’s ruling 1922 committee and board will allow the leadership field to be narrowed quickly to a handful of Conservative candidates by the weekend.

One senior Tory MP said the selection process had to be truncated due to the fact that MPs start their summer holidays at the end of next week. 

This meant that there was a “big disadvantage to candidates on the fringe” compared with household names. “Some of them are not even household names in their own houses,” one senior Tory told the Telegraph.

Newly appointed Foreign Office minister Rehman Chishti announced on Sunday night that he is running, becoming the 11th candidate to launch a bid for the Tory leadership.

Mr Chishti, the MP for Gillingham and Rainham since 2010, vowed to bring “fresh ideas” and a brand of “aspirational conservatism”.

What are the 1922 committee leadership rules?

Nominations must be submitted to Sir Graham Brady, the 1922 chairman, by 6pm today. The first hurdle is the lowest: any candidate must receive the backing of 20 MPs – that is 18 MPs, a proposer and a seconder – to enter the race.

Voting is due to start on Wednesday, July 13, after Prime Minister’s Questions in one of the cavernous committee rooms on the committee corridor, and run from 1.30pm to 3.30pm, with a result announced that early evening.

MPs stuff their ballot papers into the 1922’s historic metal ballot box marked ‘CCO’, under the watchful eye of Sir Graham and other 1922 board members, who will ensure it is a fair vote. Proxy votes are allowed for those colleagues who cannot vote in person.

The bar to stay in the contest now increases. MPs with the support of fewer than 10 per cent of the parliamentary party – 36 MPs – will have to drop out.

The field thins out before second round  

MPs predict that this will trigger frenzied horse trading on Wednesday night and into Thursday, ahead of that day’s second round of voting.

Candidates remaining in the field will be courting rivals who have been forced to withdraw and trying to get their endorsements and hopefully the support of MPs who had backed them.

To add to the intrigue, the 1922 committee is mulling an early hustings on Wednesday evening to give backbenchers a chance to grill their future leader.

The second round of voting takes place on Thursday, July 14, when the last-placed leadership contender will automatically drop out.

Could the rules be changed? 

One idea which will be discussed by the 1922 committee on Monday will be to increase the threshold at which a candidate has to withdraw from 10 per cent to 15 per cent, to whittle down the list of candidates more quickly.

After Thursday’s second ballot there will be a pause of three days ahead of MPs getting a chance to grill the candidates about their policies on a “super Monday” of hustings. 

Three sets of hustings are planned for Monday, July 18 – one by the 1922 committee and open to all Tory MPs, one by the 92 group of senior Tory MPs and one by the anti-woke Common Sense group.

The next rounds of voting are planned for Tuesday, July 19, when one or two ballots might be held, depending on the number of candidates remaining. 

A final day of voting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 20.  

Party bosses are hopeful that by Thursday, July 21, two candidates will remain in the process.

The face-off begins 

Officials at Conservative Central Office then take over and organise a series of hustings in the party’s regional bases around the country for members to be able to grill the two remaining contenders. 

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 final two. 

Tory members will be encouraged to vote for their choice to be leader by post by late August.

The winner will be announced on Monday, Sept 5.

The new Conservative leader and Prime Minister will have two days to prepare for their first meeting with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on Wednesday Sept 7.

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