If Theresa May resigns, what will the leadership contest look like?

DESPITE suffering the largest defeat for a sitting government in history when her Brexit deal was rejected by MPs, Theresa May continues to cling to office.

On March 27, however, she said she will stand down if MPs back her deal when it’s voted on for a third time.

 Theresa May says she will stand down if she manages to get her Brexit deal passed


Theresa May says she will stand down if she manages to get her Brexit deal passed

Why will there be a leadership contest?

Just two days before the UK was originally meant to leave the European Union, Mrs May finally pledged to step aside to win over her colleagues.

Her voice cracked as she told the 1922 Committee of Conservative MPs: “I know there is a desire for a new approach, new leadership, in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations — and I won’t stand in the way of that.

“I know some people are worried that if you vote for the withdrawal agreement, I will take that as a mandate to rush into phase two without the debate we need to have.

“I won’t — I hear what you’re saying. But we need to get the deal through and deliver Brexit.

“I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country.

“I ask everyone in this room to back the deal so we can complete our historic duty — to deliver on the decision of the British people and leave the European Union with a smooth and orderly exit.”

Mrs May did not name a specific date as to when she would theoretically step down, but it could be as soon as Britain leaves the EU.

The UK is currently set to leave on May 22 — but if no deal can be agreed then the UK will be on course to crash out of the union on April 12 without a deal.

 Michael Gove is the current bookies' favourite to be the next Tory leader

Kevin Dunnett

Michael Gove is the current bookies’ favourite to be the next Tory leader

How will the Tories choose a new leader?

If there is to be a leadership contest it will last up to six weeks held under the rules set out by the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs.

Candidates will need to be nominated by two fellow Tory MPs and the field is whittled to just two by a series of votes in the parliamentary party in which the lowest ranked candidate is eliminated.

After that ordinary party members to choose and the two candidates will be expected to take part in debate.

Candidates can withdraw at any time leaving the way for the one remaining to the crowned leader.

That happened in 2016 when Andrea Leadsom pulled out and sent Theresa May into Downing Street.

Who are the likely candidates?

There are a number of possible candidates currently vying for position but there is always a chance an unknown could emerge.

The day after May announced her willingness to step aside, several prospective candidates set out their stalls for why they should be the next Prime Minister.

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is still a hugely popular figure among Tory grassroots and the general public, although Michael Gove is the current bookies’ favourite.

Sajid Javid is also in the running after he was appointed Home Secretary in the wake of the Windrush scandal and the resignation of Amber Rudd.

Other possible candidates include Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt, Amber Rudd and David Lidington.

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