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The leader of the Party must be a sitting MP.

Conservative Party leadership elections consist of two stages:

  • Stage 1 – Conservative MPs choose two candidates to put forward to stage two.
  • Stage 2 – Party members are balloted. The candidate with the most votes wins.

A leadership contest will occur if a sitting leader resigns or if they lose a vote of no confidence of MPs.

A vote of no confidence in a sitting leader must be held if 15% of Conservative MPs write to the chairman of the 1922 Committee saying they no longer have confidence in the leader. The current 15% threshold is 54 MPs. MPs may withdraw letters at any time.

The rules for votes of no confidence are a matter for the 1922 Committee and are not available in the public domain.

Stage 1

The rules and procedures for stage 1 of a leadership election are determined by the Executive of the 1922 Committee in consultation with the Conservative Party Board. This will include how an MP can be validly nominated.

The rules are not in a publicly available document. Each time a leadership election is held the chair of the 1922 Committee will announce the rules to be followed and the timetable.

If there are more than two candidates the field is whittled down. This will usually involve a series of ballots, depending on the number of candidates. If multiple ballots are required, the candidate(s) with the lowest vote is/are eliminated and MPs are re-balloted until only two candidates remain.

In 2019 there were initially 10 candidates in the first ballot and six rounds of balloting were required before the final two candidates were known.

In the event of only one candidate being successfully nominated they become leader of the Party. However, they may be subject to a vote of Party members to ratify the result.

Stage 2

The two MPs selected in stage 1 face a ballot of Party members. This is done on the basis of one member one vote. The candidate who receives the most votes wins.

2022 contest

On 7 July 2022, Boris Johnson announced he would resign as Conservative Party leader following a string of ministerial resignations and concern over his handling of sexual misconduct allegations against for Deputy Chief Whip, Chris Pincher. He had previously survived a vote of no confidence from his own MPs in June 2022.

Johnson pledged to remain Prime Minister until a new leader was in place and said the timetable for the leadership election would be announced in due course. The Party announced the timetable for the election. Nominations closed at 18:00 on Tuesday 12 July with candidates needing 20 MPs to nominate them. Eight candidates made the first ballot. Candidates had to gain 30 votes in the first ballot to progress.

The table below summarises the rounds of balloting of stage 1.

Fifth round results; Sunak 137, Truss 115, Mordaunt 105

Party members had to be return ballots by 5pm on Friday 2 September. The result was announced on Monday 5 September with Liz Truss winning with 57.4% of valid votes cast.

Conservative leadership result 2022


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