What to expect as the UK Conservative Party gears up for a new leader

Britain is preparing to name its fifth prime minister in six years.

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LONDON — The U.K. is gearing up to install a new prime minister this week — its fifth in six years — following the sudden resignation of Liz Truss, just 44 days into the job.

Truss’ successor will once again be decided by a Conservative Party leadership contest drawn from a short-list of candidates.

This time, however, the process has been fast-tracked into the space of a week, as the party seeks to salvage its credibility and reassure markets after a cataclysmic month of economic turmoil under Truss’ government.

Over the weekend, two Tory hopefuls officially threw their hats into the ring for a stab at the top job. Those include frontrunner Rishi Sunak, who lost to Truss in September’s leadership race, and Penny Mordaunt, who placed third.

Ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson — who was ousted from office in scandal three months ago — said Sunday he had withdrawn from the race in the interests of party unity, despite having previously claimed to have the necessary backing to enter.

The remaining two candidates have since been rallying around fellow members of parliament (MPs) to amass the minimum threshold of votes required to join the final run-off. Here’s how the race is expected to unfold over the coming days — or, potentially, hours.

Monday 24, 2 p.m. — MPs submit their nominations

Monday 24, 6 p.m. — First ballot of MPs

If two or more candidates reach 100 nominations, the contest will proceed to an indicative ballot Monday afternoon.

A first ballot of MPs will be held between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., with the results to be announced at 6:00 p.m.

Britain’s Conservative Party is pursuing a fast-tracked version of the leadership race it conducted earlier this year.

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If there are only two candidates at this stage, it is thought that the one with the fewest number of votes will step down to avoid an online ballot among party members. But that is not guaranteed.

If there are three candidates, the one with the fewest votes will be eliminated and a second ballot will be conducted.

Monday 24, 9 p.m. — Second ballot of MPs

If required, a second indicative ballot of MPs will be held between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., with the result to be announced at 9 p.m.

At that point, the candidate with the fewest votes may step down. If not, the process will progress to a vote among party members.

Friday 28, 11 a.m. — Party members’ vote closes

Monday 31 — U.K. fiscal budget?

The new prime minister will have just days to settle into the job and announce their new Cabinet before the Treasury’s financial budget is set to be announced on Monday Oct. 31.

The statement is set to be closely watched by both Britons and international investors as newly installed Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt attempts to remedy the destruction caused by Truss’ government and his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng.

However, questions remain over whether the budget will go ahead as planned and, indeed, whether the incoming prime minister will retain Hunt in the role.

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