Conservative leadership election: what happened last time?

The Conservative Party is preparing for its second leadership election in three years.

While Boris Johnson is currently bookies favourite to take the top job, last time he did not even make it on to the ballot paper.

Here’s what happened in the 2016 vote that ushered Theresa May in to Downing Street.

When and why?

The last Tory leadership race was announced on June 24, 2016 after David Cameron resigned following the EU referendum result.

He said the party would have a new prime minister in place by the time of the next Conservative conference in October, but Theresa May became leader just two weeks later on July 13.

Who ran?

By the time nominations closed on June 30, five Tory MPs had put their names forward in the race for Number 10: Theresa May, Andrea Leadsom, Michael Gove, Liam Fox, and Stephen Crabb.

Why not Boris?

Despite being one of the favourites, former London Mayor Boris Johnson did not eventually throw his own hat in the ring.

In a bombshell announcement hours before the nominations closed, Michael Gove, who had been expected to back Mr Johnson, announced his own intention to stand. 

At the same time Mr Gove somewhat stabbed his old friend in the back by claiming Mr Johnson “cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead”.

Michael Gove (left) and Boris Johnson hold a press conference at Brexit HQ in Westminster after David Cameron’s resignation (PA)
Michael Gove (left) and Boris Johnson hold a press conference at Brexit HQ in Westminster after David Cameron’s resignation (PA)

Mr Johnson held a press conference later that morning and said the next PM should “seize this chance and make this our moment to stand tall in the world” but “that person cannot be me”.

Who made it to the second round of voting?

Theresa May, Andrea Leadsom and Micheal Gove all made it through the first vote.

Liam Fox was eliminated after receiving just 2% of Conservative MPs’ support. Stephen Crabb dropped out at the same time and threw his support behind Theresa May.

What happened to Andrea Leadsom?

Andrea Leadsom was thrust from obscure junior minister to household name during the election process.

She found herself at the centre of the media attention after her campaign team marched through Westminster ahead of the second vote and in front of TV cameras, chanting “What do we want? Leadsom for leader. When do we want it? Now.”

However, later that day, she was forced to defend her record after she faced questions about the accuracy of her CV and 25-year career in the city.

But, despite making it through both rounds of voting, the Tory membership never got the chance to vote for her, as she dropped out, leaving Theresa May as the last woman standing.

Mrs May becomes PM

Theresa May walked into Downing Street on July 13, and has now had more than 1,000 days as Prime Minister.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

She is currently the fifth shortest-serving PM since 1900, but is days away from outlasting Gordon Brown in office, a milestone she will reach on May 29.

And if she clings on until June 27, she will also beat Neville Chamberlain’s tenure.

- Press Association

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