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Tory party tweaks rules to slim down leadership race as contenders prepare for TV debate

Channel 4 will host a TV debate on 16 June.

Boris Johnson is one of those seeking the leadership.
Boris Johnson is one of those seeking the leadership.
Image: PA Wire

CHANNEL 4 IS to host a live Conservative leadership debate next week, with the process to select the new Tory leader also tweaked by the party itself.

The UK broadcaster is to hold the debate on Sunday 16 June at 6.30pm. It will be hosted by Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

The exact number of contenders taking part in the debate is yet to be decided and will be partly dependent on a new change introduced by the Conservatives yesterday.

That change raises the bar all of the candidates have to reach to progress through each of the rounds of the contest.

The rules for electing the party leader will see 313 Conservative MPs select a choice of two candidates. Those two candidates are then put to the wider party, made up of about 120,000 members.

To get on the ballot in the first place, a candidate will have to secure the public backing of eight other MPs.

Then, in each round of voting among MPs, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is knocked out until only two remain.

These votes are via a secret ballot and the first round of voting takes place on Thursday 13 June.

But under the new rules, any candidate who does not secure a certain number of votes in each round will also be eliminated, even if they are not bottom of the list.

Tory leadership race The field is into double figures. Source: PA Images

In the first round, any candidate who doesn’t receive the votes of at least 17 MPs will be eliminated. In the second vote scheduled for 18 June, candidates must receive the support of 33 MPs to proceed.

Further votes are scheduled for 19 and 20 June with party members then getting the chance to question the remaining candidates in a series of hustings.

It’s anticipated the membership will complete their voting on the new leader by mid-July.

The new process has been introduced as a way to speed up a process that has expanded to see a current count of 11 MPs in the race – nominations close on 10 June.

The Channel 4 debate is set to take place between the first and second rounds of voting, meaning that the line-up of candidates will be dependent on the first vote.

Channel 4 said today that it expects the field to be “narrowed significantly” after the first vote.

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Rónán Duffy

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