Former London mayor Boris Johnson is the surprise absence on a five-strong list to become the new leader of the Conservative party and prime minister.

Michael Gove

Michael Gove is now the leading ‘Brexit’ candidate to be the new prime minister - Source: Policy Exchange/Creative Commons

Five candidates have declared themselves in the running ahead of today’s deadline:

  1. Home secretary Theresa May: the bookies’ favourite to win the contest having held the Home Office brief. May campaigned for the Remain camp in the EU referendum, but not on the frontlines.
  2. Justice secretary Michael Gove: former education secretary between 2010 and 2014, and now justice secretary. Leading Brexit candidate after Johnson ruled himself out of the race. This morning Gove said: “I have repeatedly said that I do not want to be prime minister. That has always been my view. But events since last Thursday have weighed heavily with me. I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.”
  3. Work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb: the 43-year-old was promoted to the cabinet in 2014 as Welsh secretary before taking over as work and pensions secretary. Crabb backed Remain.
  4. Energy minister Andrea Leadsom: 53-year-old former banker and leading Brexit campaigner was made a junior minister in the energy and climate change department in May last year.
  5. Former cabinet minister Liam Fox: controversial candidate who came third in the 2005 leadership contest before becoming involved in a lobbying row in 2011 that saw him resign from the cabinet before raising his profile again in the Brexit campaign.

The leadership battle was sparked by David Cameron’s decision to step down as prime minister last Friday after losing the EU referendum.

The timetable for the leadership election will now run as follows:

  • Monday 4 July: Hustings for MPs
  • Tuesday 5 July: Voting is open for MPs from 11am to 6pm. The first ballot is then counted and verified and the result announced by the returning officer immediately. The bottom person drops out at this stage.
  • Thursday 7 July: Second ballot takes place. Voting is open for MPs from 9am - 4pm. Result announced afterwards. This process continues on Tuesdays and Thursdays until they are down to two candidates. The final two are then put to the membership of the party.
  • 9 September: New leader announced.

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