No tweets, no press: The quirks of the Tory leadership process

1922 Committee meeting in Committee Room 14 Image copyright PA
Image caption Sir Graham Brady, centre, is no longer running events in Committee Room 14

If you enjoy somewhat archaic and quirky political processes, then the first phase of the Conservative leadership contest is just the thing for you.

Forget electronic voting or open ballots. There’s none of that here.

Much of the action is taking place in the confines of Committee Room 14, one of those grand old chambers situated – quite literally – along the Palace of Westminster’s corridors of power.

Here Conservative MPs will file in, during successive rounds, to vote and pop a ballot paper into a black metal box.

It’s all being run by the officers of the 1922 Committee; made up of all backbench Conservative MPs.

The chair, Sir Graham Brady, has recused himself from the process, as he mulls over whether to stand as party leader.

So get used to two new faces: Dame Cheryl Gillan and Charles Walker.

They’re now running the show as co-chairs and returning officers. They will also act as the public faces of this, often rather private, affair.

And they’ve decided to get pretty serious on security measures.

Image copyright conservative party
Image caption Dame Cheryl Gillan is enforcing strict rules for the contest

When turning up to vote, every MP must show their parliamentary pass to prove that they are indeed, for example, one Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The ballot papers have an official 1922 Committee stamp and the colour of those ballot papers will change with each round.

Photographs of the ballot papers are strictly forbidden. Mr Walker and Dame Cheryl even mooted the possibility that MPs could have to surrender their phones before voting.

It’s clear that anyone who tweets out an illicit snap will quickly incur the wrath of the ’22 bosses.

Why the stringency? Well, the co-chairs insist that they do trust their parliamentary colleagues but that it’s important to ensure the highest standards are observed.

The committee will also run a series of candidate hustings, but they will be strictly limited to Conservative MPs.

There’ll be no media access, due to fears that the presence of the press could constrain the debate.

There’s also an issue about space at these hustings. There isn’t even room for Conservative members of the House of Lords.

The plan is that this will all be wrapped up by 20 June, with the final two candidates then presented to the Conservative membership.

They will have the final say over who’ll be their next party leader and your next prime minister.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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