UK Conservative Party leadership contest

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Publication Date 2019
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Reports and analyses relating to the race to lead the Conservative Party and become the United Kingdom's Prime Minister, following the announcement from Theresa May that she had decided to resign on 7 June 2019.

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Following the inability to deliver the United Kingdom's effective withdrawal from the European Union by the original timeline - related to a fragmented Parliament and criticism from her own political party - Prime Minister Theresa May announced on 24 May 2019 she intended to resign on 7 June and make way for a leadership contest in the Conservative Party, which would eventually result in a new Prime Minister.

A number of senior figures of the Party lined up to present their leadership bids. Some members of the party criticised the amount of candidates who gathered the necessary support to put forward their name, calling for changes in rules of the leadership contest. Analysts suggested the outcome of the European Parliament election in the United Kingdom would influence the choice of a new leader, depending on their position regarding the precise Brexit they defend. Ahead of a state visit to the United Kingdom in June 2019, US President Donald Trump suggested he supported Mr Johnson to become the next party leader and Prime Minister.

Following Theresa May's official resignation as leader of the Conservative Party, it was announced on 10 June that 10 candidates had gathered the necessary proposer, seconder and support from six other members of Parliament. These were: Michael Gove, Matt Hancock, Mark Harper, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey, Dominic Raab and Rory Stewart. Several rounds of voting by Conservative MPs would take place, until only two candidates were left - these would be up for scrutiny from the wider Conservative Party membership.

Mr Gove's announcement that he had consumed cocaine during his adulthood, together with Mr Johnson's resistance in appearing in public to discuss his ideas as potential Prime Minister dominated the media focus ahead of the first round, which was held on 13 June. Candidates were required the support of 16 MPs to proceed to the next stage. Boris Johnson (114) collected the most support, followed by Jeremy Hunt (43). Mark Harper, Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey were eliminated from the race. Matt Hancock announced his withdrawal on 14 June.

The first public debate between the remaining candidates was held on 16 June, except for Boris Johnson who decided not to take part. The second round of voting was held on 18 June - the threshold increased to 33 MPs and led to Dominic Raab being knocked out of the race (30 votes). The remaining candidates took part at a second televised debate later in the day. On 19 June, the third round resulted in the elimination of Rory Stewart, followed by two further rounds on 20 June - the final two candidates emerging proceeding to the final round of voting with party members were Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt.

A series of public hustings were held across the United Kingdom to help Conservative party members decide which candidate to support. The issue of delivering Brexit remained the main debating issue of the leadership campaign, alongside some other personal episodes involving the candidates. On 23 July, Boris Johnson was announced as the winner of the leadership contest, collecting 66% of the votes.

Related Link(s)
Commentary and Analysis
The Economist, 24/05/2019: British politics after Theresa May
Politico, 24/05/2019: The tragedy of Theresa May
Deutsche Welle, 24/05/2019: Brexit sinks Theresa May's UK prime ministership
The Conversation, 24/05/2019: Theresa May resigns: how the leadership race could play out from here
The New Yorker, 24/05/2019: Theresa May Resigns, Forever Stained by Brexit
Institute for Government, 24/05/2019: Theresa May resigns with a legacy of unfulfilled ambitions
Foreign Policy, 24/05/2019: Theresa May Broke Britain
Politico, 24/05/2019: Inside Theresa May’s Great British Failure
The Conversation, 24/05/2019: Theresa May resigns as British prime minister – here’s where it all went wrong
Chatham House: Expert Comment, 24/05/2019: May Leaves, But Brexit Remains
Euro|topics, May 2019: Is May's departure a tragedy?
Institute for Government, 28/05/2019: The new Prime Minister will have their work cut out in Brussels
Deutsche Welle, 29/05/2019: Who are the candidates to replace Theresa May?
The Conversation, 29/05/2019: Tory leadership race could undermine confidence in UK economy
Euro|topics, June 2019: Trump praises Johnson and recommends hard Brexit
Reuters, 03/06/2019: What will PM May's successor do about Brexit?
Institute for Government: Blog, 03/06/2019: Rearranging government departments isn’t risk-free for Tory leadership contenders
Politico, 04/06/2019: The path to power for the UK’s next prime minister
New Statesman, 04/06/2019: Boris Johnson passes his first leadership test
Spigel Online International, 04/06/2019: What Boris Johnson Could Mean for Brexit
BBC News, 07/06/2019: Theresa May resignation: How the UK's next prime minister will be chosen
BBC News, 10/06/2019: Tory leadership: A weird start to the first day of the contest
The Guardian, 11/06/2019: The Tory contest shows that the Brexiters’ dream is dying before their very eyes
Politico, 12/06/2019: Warm beer and the ‘existential’ Brexit threat to UK Tories
Euro|topics, June 2019: Who will succeed Theresa May?
Wikipedia: 2019 Conservative Party (UK) leadership election
The Guardian, 18/06/2019: BBC Conservative leadership debate – the winners and the losers
Chatham House: Expert Comment, 18/06/2019: Five Foreign Policy Questions for the UK’s Next Prime Minister
Politico, 19/06/2019: 5 takeaways from the Tory leadership debate
The Conversation, 19/06/2019: Boris Johnson: Conservatives could be making a major error in letting him avoid the press and public
The Conversation, 20/06/2019: Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt will compete to become the UK’s next prime minister – but could either win an election?
The Economist, 20/06/2019: Which Boris would Britain get?
The Conversation, 21/06/2019: Survey suggests wider public would have preferred Boris Johnson against Michael Gove in Conservative leadership contest
Institute for Government: Blog, 21/06/2019: No deal Brexit could be a legal mess
The Economist, 22/06/2019: What Europe thinks of Boris Johnson
Politico, 24/06/2019: How Boris Johnson can defuse media frenzy around late-night argument
Institute for Government: Blog, 24/06/2019: The new Prime Minister needs to be ready to shift gear from campaigning to governing
The Guardian, 25/06/2019: Are the wheels coming off Boris Johnson's bus?
BBC News, 26/06/2019: Why EU is unfazed by no-deal Brexit threats
Institute for Government: Blog, 22/07/2019: The next Prime Minister will need to limit their ambitions beyond Brexit
Politico, 23/07/2019: Boris Johnson: Dude or dud?
Euro|topics, July 2019: What awaits us with Boris Johnson in charge?
Deutsche Welle, 23/07/2019: Who is Boris Johnson, Britain's next prime minister?
The Economist, 23/07/2019: Prime Minister Boris Johnson fulfils his dream
Foreign Policy, 23/07/2019: Will the Sun Set on the Boris Empire?
The Conversation, 23/07/2019: Boris Johnson: populists now run the show, but what exactly are they offering?
The Conversation, 23/07/2019: Prime Minister Boris Johnson: the jester will take the throne

BBC News: Conservative Party leadership contest
BBC News: New UK prime minister
The Guardian: Conservative leadership
Deutsche Welle, 24/05/2019: EU leaders react to Theresa May's resignation
Foreign Policy, 24/05/2019: Theresa May Stands Down
EurActiv, 24/05/2019: Theresa May to resign, citing failure to deliver Brexit as ‘deep regret’
Politico, 25/05/2019: UK Conservatives jostle for top job after May’s resignation
EurActiv, 29/05/2019: UK PM frontrunner Boris Johnson summoned to court for Brexit ‘lies’
Politico, 30/05/2019: Barnier to next British PM: May’s deal ‘only option’ for orderly Brexit
Politico, 30/05/2019: Brexit question may need to go ‘back to the people,’ says UK chancellor
Politico, 31/05/2019: UK business lobby warns Tory candidates against no-deal Brexit
The Guardian, 02/06/2019: Tories call for rule change as 13th name enters leadership race
EurActiv, 03/06/2019: In search of realism: the Tory leadership and Brexit
ITV News, 04/06/2019: Rule changes in PM race considered as Hammond tells candidates to be honest
Reuters, 04/06/2019: Conservative Party agree leadership election rules to reduce numbers
BBC News, 10/06/2019: Tory leadership: Final 10 contenders named in race to No 10
The Economist, 10/06/2019: Conservative Party leadership contenders propose tax cuts for high-earners
Reuters, 07/06/2019: May steps down as party chief, igniting leadership race
The Guardian, 11/06/2019: EU view of Tory leadership candidates deeply critical, say sources
Reuters, 11/06/2019: 'Delay means defeat': Johnson commits to October Brexit deadline
Reuters, 11/06/2019: Where's Johnson? PM candidate criticised for avoiding scrutiny
ITV News, 11/09/2019: Conservative leadership hopefuls Stewart, Leadsom and Harper clash on Brexit deadline
Politico, 11/06/2019: Johnson, Gove or Raab as PM is ‘horrific’ prospect, Sturgeon says
EurActiv, 11/06/2019: Deal or no deal? Britain’s PM hopefuls divided over Brexit
Politico, 13/06/2019: Boris wins first Tory leadership ballot, and wins big
Deutsche Welle, 13/06/2019: Boris Johnson takes hefty lead in UK leadership race
Politico, 16/06/2019: Tory leadership frontrunner Johnson dodges first TV debate
EurActiv, 17/06/2019: Taking aim at Johnson, British PM hopefuls make their Brexit case
Politico, 18/06/2019: Dominic Raab knocked out of Tory leadership race
BBC News, 19/06/2019: Tory leadership race: Rivals in BBC debate clash over Brexit deadline
EurActiv, 19/06/2019: Johnson looks to cement UK leadership lead after surviving TV debate
Politico, 20/06/2019: Tory grassroots appeal makes Boris Johnson favorite for PM
Politico, 22/06/2019: Boris Johnson refuses to answer questions about police visit
Politico, 22/06/2019: Boris Johnson is a ‘bottler’ says leadership rival
BBC News, 23/06/2019: Boris Johnson: 'Frightened' neighbour defends recording partner row
EurActiv, 24/06/2019: Johnson’s domestic dispute fuels debate in Britain over his PM credentials
BBC News, 24/06/2019: Tory leadership race: Hunt tells Johnson 'don't be a coward'
EurActiv, 25/06/2019: UK’s Johnson admits needing EU support in event of no-deal Brexit
Politico, 25/06/2019: Mark Carney ‘wrong’ on no-deal Brexit trade terms, says Boris Johnson
EurActiv, 26/06/2019: Boris Johnson challenges rival to back Brexit deadline
BBC News, 26/06/2019: Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt divided over Brexit plans
Politico, 23/07/2019: Boris Johnson elected Tory leader, set to become UK PM
EurActiv, 23/07/2019: Johnson confirmed as UK’s new PM, vows to ‘reconcile’ Brexit divisions
EurActiv, 23/07/2019: Sturgeon: Scotland has 'profound concerns' about new UK PM Johnson
Deutsche Welle, 23/07/2019: Boris Johnson to become UK prime minister after decisive Tory vote

CBI: Open letter from the CBI to all Conservative leadership candidates
Channel 4: First public debate between Conservative Party leadership candidates [via Youtube]
BBC: Our Next Prime Minister - Debate between Conservative Party leadership candidates, 18 June 2019
Letter of congratulations from European Council President Donald Tusk to Boris Johnson on his appointment as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 24 July 2019

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