Former finance minister Rishi Sunak is cruising so far in the contest to be the next UK Prime Minister to replace Liz Truss, but the path involves twists that he failed to navigate the last time.
The first step is to get support of 100 MPs – the Conservative Party has 357 — and he already has 122, as per the BBC's tracker at 11.30 pm Saturday, India time. This was counted from the 198 Tory MPs who went public with their support.
Boris Johnson, whose backers say he's crossed 100, was at 53 on this tracker. Penny Mordaunt, leader of the House of Commons, was at 23. But Britain's most prominent news outlets — The Sunday Times, BBC and Sky News — cited a source close to Mr Johnson as saying he has 100 backers and therefore "could" be on the ballot.
Mr Johnson landed in London earlier on Saturday after a holiday in the Caribbean.
Penny Mordaunt has a first-mover advantage when it comes to social media campaigning. She posted a video of “The Real Me”, and projected herself as someone who understands cost of living.
Liz Truss had to resign on her 45th day as PM as her plans for tax cuts could not go through as there was no clarity on how she'd fund them — the shortest tenure for a UK PM. Boris Johnson had resigned in July after serving three years, owing to a series of scandals such as partying during the Covid lockdown.
Here's how it works from now.
Liz Truss announced that she concurred with the 1922 Committee — the party panel that decides the leadership contest rules — that a leadership poll be held “within the next week”.
Nominations close on Monday, October 24. The 100 nominations required to be on the final ballot may be submitted by email or physically, say rules as detailed on the UK Parliament website.
The top two contenders after the MPs' vote will then be on the ballot for an online vote of party members. (Rishi Sunak was leading up to this point last time.)
This process will be completed by October 28.
Note: If only one candidate secures the required 100 nominations from MPs, there will be no vote of party members. And then the party will have a confirmed leader on October 24 — thus the new PM.
But if two candidates clear Stage 1 — the MPs' vote, that is — Stage 2 will have the party members voting. Here, it's simple: candidate with the most votes wins. The rules and numbers are not always publicly shared by the party.
Party rules say only those members can vote who've been members for at least three months immediately prior to the closing time of voting.
In the last race in which Rishi Sunak lost to Liz Truss, UK-based members could vote by post or online. Overseas members could only vote electronically. This time the whole system is expected to be online for a quicker result.
The UK's general election is due in December 2024.