LONDON — Boris Johnson’s premiership will end on September 6 under a timetable agreed Monday evening by Conservative Party bosses.
The U.K prime minister is set to step down from his role in eight weeks’ time, after a new Tory leader is elected in a ballot of party members ending September 5. Johnson’s anointed successor is likely to take over as Tory leader and U.K. prime minister the following day — Tuesday, September 6.
Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers which decides the leadership timetable, announced the terms on Monday night after the rules were rubber-stamped by the Conservative Party board.
Nominations for the leadership will open and close on Tuesday. Tory leadership hopefuls will need to have secured the support of 20 their MP colleagues by close of play Tuesday to make it onto the ballot paper, ahead of the first vote among Tory MPs the following day, Brady said.
Any candidate with fewer than 30 votes in Wednesday’s initial ballot will be knocked out. A second ballot is then expected to take place Thursday, with either any candidate with fewer than 30 votes, or failing that the last-placed candidate, dropping out.
A third ballot among MPs, if one needs to take place, has then been penciled for next Monday, July 18. Successive ballots are expected to take place daily on the same terms, until only two candidates remain.
The final two candidates will then be put to a vote of grassroots Conservative Party members — thought to number around 200,000 people in total — lasting most of the summer, with head-to-head debates to be held at hustings around the country. The winner of that ballot will replace Johnson as prime minister.
Johnson entered Downing Street in July 2019 after a similar process following Theresa May’s resignation. She stayed on as leader and prime minister while the two-month leadership contest took place, but then stepped down as soon as it ended. Johnson took over on July 24, the day after the results of the Tory members’ ballot were announced.
Brady said this year’s battle was shaping up to be a “lively” contest, and that he hoped it would bring a “proper, healthy constructive debate about the future direction of the Conservative Party.”
He told broadcasters: “We need to make sure there’s a reasonable amount of time for the party membership and the country to have a chance to meet and question the candidates at regional hustings.”
But he added: “I’m very keen that we get this concluded as smoothly, cleanly and rapidly as possible.”
Brady said that around a dozen hustings with party members were due to take place, some of them online.
The 1922 committee was eager to wrap up the parliamentary stages of the contest before the Commons breaks for a six-week recess on Thursday, July 21.
Johnson was forced to resign last week after losing the support of the bulk of Conservative MPs. Mass ministerial resignations on Wednesday last week, triggered by the exits of his Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor Rishi Sunak the previous day made it impossible for him to appoint a new government.
The ministerial departures were precipitated by a series of scandals about Johnson’s personal and professional conduct, culminating in a bitter row over the appointment of his Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher, a senior government enforcer who resigned this month after being accused of groping two men at a private club.