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Conservative Party leadership election, 2016
← "2005 29 June – 11 July 2016 (2016-06-29 – 2016-07-11)[1] "Next →
  ""Theresa May 2015.jpg ""Andrea Leadsom ""Michael Gove
Candidate "Theresa May "Andrea Leadsom "Michael Gove
Popular vote Unopposed Withdrew Eliminated
Second ballot 199, 60.5%[2] 84, 25.5%[2] 46, 14.0%[2]
First ballot 165, 50.2%[3] 66, 20.1%[3] 48, 14.6%[3]

  ""Stephen Crabb ""Liam Fox
Candidate "Stephen Crabb "Liam Fox
Second ballot Withdrew[4] Eliminated
First ballot 34, 10.3%[3] 16, 4.9%[3]

Leader before election

"David Cameron

Leader after election

"Theresa May

The 2016 Conservative Party leadership election occurred as a result of "David Cameron's resignation as leader following the "European Union membership referendum, in which the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU. Cameron, who supported Britain's continued membership of the EU, made his announcement on 24 June, saying that he would step down by October. "Theresa May won the contest on 11 July 2016, after the withdrawal of "Andrea Leadsom left her as the sole candidate, succeeding Cameron as "leader of the "Conservative Party.

Conservative MPs had voted initially in a series of ballots to determine which two candidates' names would go forward to a nationwide ballot of Conservative Party members, who would make the final decision. Five Conservative members of Parliament (MPs) put themselves forward as candidates: "Justice Secretary "Michael Gove, "Work and Pensions Secretary "Stephen Crabb, former "Defence Secretary "Liam Fox, "Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change Andrea Leadsom, and "Home Secretary Theresa May. Former "Mayor of London "Boris Johnson, seen as the front runner by political analysts, surprised many commentators by choosing not to run after Gove withdrew his backing and announced his own candidacy.

In the first-round ballot, May, gaining the support of half of Conservative MPs, was placed first with Leadsom at second place. Fox was eliminated on the first ballot and Crabb withdrew later that day. Gove was eliminated in the second round of voting. Before the Conservative Party members were due to cast their votes, Leadsom withdrew from the contest on 11 July. May was appointed party leader later that day and Prime Minister on 13 July. May appointed Johnson, Fox, and Leadsom to her "Cabinet as "Foreign Secretary, "Secretary of State for International Trade, and "Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, respectively.

Contents

Background[edit]

During the "2015 general election campaign, "David Cameron, then leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister, announced that he would not seek a third term; he was therefore expected to stand down before the "following general election—at that time, expected to occur in 2020—although he spoke of serving a full term.[5]

Following a manifesto commitment, Cameron and the Conservative Party introduced legislation for a "referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union, which was held on 23 June 2016. Cameron and the Government supported a Remain vote, although the Conservative Party was officially neutral in the campaign and many Conservative politicians, including some Cabinet members, campaigned to Leave. There was speculation during the campaign as to whether Cameron would resign if Leave won, but on the day of the referendum, both Leave- and Remain-supporting Conservatives called for him to stay whatever the result.

A Leave win was announced on the morning of 24 June 2016, and Cameron announced shortly afterwards that he would be stepping down. He announced that he would continue in post while the leadership election was ongoing, with the new leader to be in place in time for the party conference in October.[6] However, the way that events unfolded would result in a much earlier departure.

The campaign was framed by whether candidates supported Remain or Leave, with initial speculation by some analysts being that a Leave supporter would be more likely to win.[7] Based on media speculation, the front runners on 29 June were "Boris Johnson (Leave) and "Theresa May (Remain),[8] with Johnson the early favourite. Johnson's candidacy was expected to be supported by "Michael Gove, the two having worked together for Leave through the referendum campaign, as well as by "Andrea Leadsom.[9] However, earlier that week, May was leading by a narrow margin in opinion polls commissioned by "The Times[10] and by "The Independent.[11]

Gove, previously seen as a key ally of the Johnson campaign, announced his own candidacy three hours before nominations closed, stating that he had reluctantly come to the conclusion that Johnson could not "provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead." Johnson subsequently withdrew from the leadership race.[12][13] "The Telegraph stated that Gove's actions in undermining Johnson's leadership aspirations constituted "the most spectacular political assassination in a generation."[14] Gove's move was compared to the betrayals of fiction with, for example, Johnson's father, "Stanley Johnson, quoting ""Et tu Brute".[15][16] Some of Johnson's allies subsequently began shifting their support to May, because they perceived a "systematic and calculated plot" by Gove to remove their candidate from the race.[17]

By 5 July 2016, Gove was in a distant third place in the leadership race based on the number of endorsements received from other MPs. He was eliminated in the second MPs' ballot.

A post-contest analysis in "The Daily Telegraph noted that the £275,000 contributions to Theresa May's campaign "dwarfed her rivals", and Cameron's original honours list contained the names of two major Conservative party donors who supported her campaign.[18]

Campaign and key issues[edit]

The initial days of the campaign remained overshadowed by the fallout from Gove's entry into the race and Johnson's departure. May gathered the most support from MPs early on. "Gavin Williamson—later to be appointed "Chief Whip by May—was her parliamentary campaign manager and responsible for rallying this support, together with a small group of MPs, including "Julian Smith, "Kris Hopkins, "Simon Kirby, "Karen Bradley and "George Hollingbery.[19] In the initial days of the campaign, Leadsom said that she would not rule out involving "Nigel Farage, then the leader of the "UK Independence Party (UKIP), in Brexit negotiations; the May campaign criticised Leadsom for claimed UKIP links.[20] Leadsom had approached the Johnson campaign with a proposed deal not to run in exchange for being made one of his top three ministers. Johnson agreed to the deal, but was too late in communicating the decision, and Leadsom chose to run for leader.[21]

All five candidates for the Conservative leadership said that they would not call an early "general election, relying instead on the Conservative mandate secured at the 2015 election.[22] The five candidates also rejected the idea of calling a second referendum on British withdrawal from the EU, pledging to take the UK out of the Union, although on different timeframes.[22]

Among the key issues that emerged during the Conservative leadership campaign were:

An editorial in "The Guardian noted that the Brexit-dominated leadership campaign presented a danger that the next prime minister would be chosen on this basis at a time when several major domestic issues would also demand the prime minister's attention, such as the disputes between the government and unions representing teachers and "junior doctors.[32]

An interview with Leadsom in The Times in early July created some controversy. The article quoted Leadsom as saying that motherhood gave her a better political perspective than May—who is childless—although Leadsom protested the article misrepresented her views. She later apologised to May.[33] There was also controversy about claimed inaccuracies in Leadsom's CV.[34] Meanwhile, Crabb, after his candidacy had ended, was reported to have been "sexting a woman despite being married and stressing family values in his campaign.[35]

Leadsom withdrew from the contest on 11 July,[36] arguing that May should become leader promptly.[37]

Election procedure[edit]

The election process for selecting the "leader of the Conservative Party is overseen by the Conservative "1922 Committee, although election procedures are approved by the Board of the Conservative Party.[38][39][40] Nominations for the leadership are invited by the Chairman of the 1922 Committee (currently "Graham Brady), acting as Returning Officer for all stages of the election. Candidates must be proposed and seconded in writing, with names of the proposers and seconders being published. When nominations close, a list of valid nominations is published. If there is only one valid nomination, that person is declared elected. If only two valid nominations are received, both names go forward to the general membership of the Party. If more than two nominations are received, a ballot is held within the Parliamentary Party on the Tuesday immediately following the closing date for nominations. An "exhaustive ballot system is used to select two candidates to go forward to the general membership of the Party.

A ballot paper is produced and issued to all Conservative Members in the "House of Commons, who indicate one choice from the candidates listed. "Proxy votes are possible. The ballot is conducted "in secret. If there are three candidates in the first ballot, the two who receive the most votes go forward to the general membership. If there are more than three, the candidate receiving the fewest votes is eliminated and a second ballot, under the same rules, is held the following Thursday. If there are no more than three candidates in the second ballot, the two receiving the most votes go forward to the general membership. If a third ballot is required, it is held the following Tuesday. This process is repeated as often as necessary, on alternate Tuesdays and Thursdays. When a ballot with only three candidates is reached, the two candidates who receive the highest number of votes go forward to the general membership. Candidates may withdraw their names at any time, "up to 24 hours of the opening of the ballot", but no new nominations will be accepted after the first ballot.

The two candidates selected by the Parliamentary Party are then put to the full membership of the Party (specifically, "all the members of the Conservative Party in good standing who have been members for not less than three months prior to the date of the announcement of the Vote of Confidence") in a postal ballot. Each Party member, on a ""one member, one vote" basis, may vote for their preferred candidate. It is not explicitly stated in the rules from when the three months applies, in the eventuality of the leader resigning, but Rule 5 in the "Rules for the Election of the Leader" (which appears as Schedule 2 to the Constitution of the Conservative Party) gives this as "immediately prior to the close of the ballot for the election of the Leader".[41] The Chairman of the 1922 Committee consults with the Board of the Conservative Party to agree the closing date for the ballot, which will be "as soon as practicable" after the date of the last ballot in the Parliamentary Party. The chairman, as returning officer, shall agree with the Board who is responsible, under his direction, for the receipt and counting of the votes, and the chairman announces the results "as soon as practicable" to a meeting of the Parliamentary Party and representatives of the Conservative Party.

Should only a single candidate be nominated, or all but one candidate be eliminated or withdraw before the scheduled end of the election (set in this instance as 9 September 2016), that single (or remaining) candidate is elected effectively unopposed without—if applicable—the votes of the party membership being issued (or counted if the ballot papers have already been issued).

Results[edit]

The first ballot of MPs was held on 5 July. The results were announced at 18:30 by 1922 Committee chairman Graham Brady. May placed first, far ahead of her closest rival Leadsom. Fifth-placed candidate Fox was knocked out of the race, and Crabb withdrew; both endorsed May. Gove, Leadsom and May went through to the second ballot held on 7 July.[42] May again was the clear winner, with Leadsom beating Gove, which meant that May and Leadsom went through to the members' ballot, the result of which was due to be announced on 9 September.

However, on 11 July, Leadsom withdrew from the race, saying it is in the “best interests of the country”, leaving May as the only candidate.[43] Conservative MP and Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, announced that May would be confirmed as Conservative Party leader as soon as the party's board had been consulted.[44] She was confirmed as leader; David Cameron tendered his resignation as Prime Minister on 13 July, with May accepting the Queen's invitation to succeed him shortly afterwards. Having been appointed Prime Minister, she entered "10 Downing Street with a speech emphasising the term Unionist in the name of the party, reminding all of "the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland."[45]

After she became Prime Minister, May's cabinet appointments tilted to the right, according to The Guardian; but her speech clearly targeted the left, with a promise to combat the "burning injustice" in British society and create a union "between all of our citizens" and promising to be an advocate for the "ordinary working-class family" and not for the affluent in the UK. "The government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few but by yours. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives. ... When we take the big calls, we'll think not of the powerful, but you. When we pass new laws we'll listen not to the mighty, but to you. When it comes to taxes we'll prioritise not the wealthy but you."[46]

Candidate First ballot:
5 July 2016
Second ballot:
7 July 2016
Members' vote
Cancelled
Votes % Votes % Votes %
  "Theresa May 165 50.2 199 60.5 Unopposed
"Andrea Leadsom 66 20.1 84 25.5 Withdrew
"Michael Gove 48 14.6 46 14.0 Eliminated
"Stephen Crabb 34 10.3 Withdrew, endorsed May
"Liam Fox 16 4.9 Eliminated, endorsed May
Turnout 329 99.7 329 99.7 N/A
Theresa May wins

Notes

Timeline[edit]

Candidates[edit]

Name Born Constituency Most recent position(s) "Pre-referendum position on EU membership Announced candidacy Proposer and Seconder[54] Public declarations/
endorsements from MPs
(prior to first ballot)[55]
Public declarations/
endorsements from MPs
(prior to second ballot)[56]
""Stephen Crabb
Crabb, Stephen"Stephen Crabb

20 January 1973
(age 44)
"MP for "Preseli Pembrokeshire
(2005–present)
"Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
(March–July 2016)
Remain 28 June 2016[57] "Sajid Javid and
"Chloe Smith
22 / 330
(6.7%)
Withdrew
""Liam Fox
Fox, Liam"Liam Fox

22 September 1961
(age 55)
"MP for "North Somerset
(1992–present)
"Secretary of State for Defence
(2010–2011)
Leave 29 June 2016[58] "Robert Goodwill and
"Scott Mann
7 / 330
(2.1%)
Eliminated
""Michael Gove
Gove, Michael"Michael Gove

26 August 1967
(age 50)
"MP for "Surrey Heath
(2005–present)
"Lord Chancellor
(2015–2016)
"Secretary of State for Justice
(2015–2016)
Leave 30 June 2016[59] "Nicky Morgan and
"Dominic Raab
27 / 330
(8.2%)
27 / 330
(8.2%)
""Andrea Leadsom
Leadsom, Andrea"Andrea Leadsom

13 May 1963
(age 54)
"MP for "South Northamptonshire
(2010–present)
"Minister of State for Energy & Climate Change
(2015–2016)
Leave 30 June 2016[60] "Penny Mordaunt and
"William Wragg
42 / 330
(12.7%)
48 / 330
(14.5%)
""Theresa May
May, Theresa"Theresa May

1 October 1956
(age 60)
"MP for "Maidenhead
(1997–present)
"Home Secretary
(2010–2016)
Remain 30 June 2016[61] "Chris Grayling and
"Justine Greening
141 / 330
(42.7%)
159 / 330
(48.2%)

Withdrew[edit]

The following individuals announced that they would seek the leadership of the Conservative Party but then eventually did not stand, or withdrew from the race, due to insufficient support or other reasons:

Declined[edit]

The following individuals were the focus of media speculation as being possible leadership candidates, but ruled out a bid or did not stand by the requisite time:

Endorsements[edit]

N.B. MPs are not required to vote as per their public endorsements.

Stephen Crabb[edit]

Liam Fox[edit]

Michael Gove[edit]

Boris Johnson[edit]

Andrea Leadsom[edit]

Theresa May[edit]

Opinion polling[edit]

Polls via polling organisations[edit]

Note some polls have asked respondents how they would vote in certain head-to-head scenarios, as indicated below.

Date(s) administered Poll source Sample
size
Stephen
Crabb
Liam
Fox
Michael
Gove
Boris
Johnson
Andrea
Leadsom
Theresa
May
George
Osborne
Other/
Undecided
11 July 2016 Andrea Leadsom withdraws from the ballot, Theresa May is declared the new Leader of the Conservative Party.
7 July 2016 "Sky Data[201] 1,002 "nationally representative" Sky customers 25% 48% Don't know 28%
7 July 2016 Second ballot: Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May are entered into the ballot, Michael Gove is eliminated.
5 July 2016 First ballot: Theresa May wins 50.2% of MP support, Liam Fox is eliminated and Stephen Crabb withdraws from the election.
4–5 July 2016 "Survation[202] 1,062 Conservative councillors 2.3% 1.8% 5.1% 21.8% 46.2% Undecided 17.9%
Refused 4.9%
12.7% 59.9% Undecided 20.9%
Refused 6.5%
25.5% 50.5% Undecided 18.6%
Refused 5.4%
1–4 July 2016 "YouGov/"The Times[203] 994 Conservative Party members 5% 5% 9% 20% 54% 6%
31% 63% 6%
21% 71% 7%
21% 72% 7%
13% 76% 10%
29% 53% 17%
25% 53% 17%
30 June 2016 Nomination period closes at noon BST. Boris Johnson declares that he will not run as a candidate.
29 June 2016 Nomination period opens at 6 pm BST.[47]
27–29 June 2016 "YouGov/"The Times[204] 1,001 Conservative Party members 7% 4% 27% 7% 36% 4% Don't know 6%
"David Davis 4%
"Sajid Javid 3%
"Nicky Morgan 1%
38% 55% 7%
48% 31% 21%
31% 54% 16%
29% 52% 19%
26–27 June 2016 "YouGov/"The Times[205] 438 Conservative voters[a] 1% 4% 8% 24% 1% 31% 4% Don't know 24%
"Sajid Javid 2%
"Jeremy Hunt 1%
"Nicky Morgan 0%
2,013 British residents[b] 2% 3% 5% 18% 1% 19% 3% Don't know 44%
"Sajid Javid 3%
"Jeremy Hunt 1%
"Nicky Morgan 0%
25 June 2016 "Bristol Post[206] 700 voters 19% 6% 41% 27% 7% "Nicky Morgan 1%
24–25 June 2016 "Survation/"The Mail on Sunday[207] 1,033 British residents[b] 1.6% 6.1% 28.3% 13.1% 6.9% Don't know 37.1%
"Ruth Davidson 5.5%
"Jeremy Hunt 1.4%
61.1% 38.9%
50.4% 49.6%
42.4% 57.6%
62.1% "Jeremy Hunt 37.9%
55.7% "Ruth Davidson 44.3%
38.5% 61.5%
252 Conservative voters[c] 1.7% 6.9% 32.9% 19.3% 10.4% Don't know 24.1%
"Jeremy Hunt 2.6%
"Ruth Davidson 2.1%
58.5% 41.5%
50% 50%
37.7% 62.3%
70.5% "Jeremy Hunt 29.5%
68% "Ruth Davidson 32%
30.6% 69.4%
24 June 2016 "David Cameron announces his resignation as "leader of the "Conservative Party and as "Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
23 June 2016 The United Kingdom votes to Leave the "European Union in a "nationwide referendum.
23–26 February 2016 "YouGov[208] 1,005 Conservative Party members 43% 19% 22% "Sajid Javid 7%
Don't know 7%
"Nicky Morgan 1%
14–17 November 2015 "Ipsos MORI/"Evening Standard[209][210] 307 Conservative voters[a] 32% 26% 23% 19%
1,021 British residents[b] 25% 19% 11% 45%
19–23 September 2015 "Ipsos MORI[211] 395 Conservative voters[a] 29% 18% 32% 19%
1,255 British residents[b] 27% 17% 15% 41%
21–22 September 2015 "Survation/"Huffington Post UK[212][213] 303 Conservative voters[a] 30.4% 16.3% 26.2% Don't know 23.3%
"Jeremy Hunt 2.9%
"Nicky Morgan 0.9%
1,008 British residents[b] 25% 11.2% 14.6% Don't know 45.2%
"Nicky Morgan 2.1%
"Jeremy Hunt 2%
  1. ^ a b c d People who are likely to vote Conservative in next general election.
  2. ^ a b c d e Residents over 18 in Great Britain.
  3. ^ People who voted Conservative in the 2015 general election.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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