Britain should have a new Prime Minister by 2 September, the Conservative Party’s 1922 Committee of backbench MPs has recommended.
The committee, which according to the party’s constitution is responsible for organising the leadership election, said this afternoon that nominations should open on Wednesday and close on Thursday, in a bid to get a new Prime Minister in place as soon as possible.
The election will be held under the same rules as in 2005, when David Cameron was first elected party leader. As the party is now in government, whoever becomes the new leader will by default become Prime Minister.
Under the rules, Conservative Members of Parliament will whittle down the number of candidates in a series of ballots, with the lowest-polling candidate being eliminated after each round of voting. When there are only two remaining candidates, they will go forward to a postal vote of all party members throughout the UK.
Former London Mayor Boris Johnson, who played a leading role in the ‘Leave’ campaign, is favourite to win the race, although he has caused concern after indicating the EU freedom of movement rules could still apply after Brexit, and stating there is no rush to begin the formal withdrawal process.
Home Secretary Theresa May is second favourite after emerging as the main “stop Boris” candidate. However, she officially backed ‘Remain’ during the referendum campaign, something that may put off many party members from voting for her.
Currently third in the betting odds is former Defence Secretary Liam Fox, a senior figure on the right of the party who campaigned for ‘Leave’ and has strong ties with the U.S. Republicans. He may become the pro-Brexit alternative to the increasingly shaky Boris Johnson.
The contest was triggered after David Cameron resigned following the victory of Brexit in the EU referendum. He had pledged to serve until October at the latest, but there are increasing calls for a replacement to be elected earlier in order to kick start Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.