Tory MPs to vote on leadership election changes

Conservatives MPs are due to vote tonight on how the leader of the party should be elected.

MPs will have an array of options to choose from, which include making MPs solely responsible for the decision; keeping the current system, where MPs decide on two candidates before party members cast the final vote; and adapting the current system to allow party members to select the candidates before giving MPs the final decision.

Party leader Michael Howard, who is due to step down later in the year, is in favour of giving MPs sole responsibility for choosing the party leader, while former Shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe is in favour of the third option.

Mr Howard’s predecessor, Iain Duncan Smith, was the only Conservative party leader to be elected under the current system.

The MPs will also vote on a proposal to lift the £25,000 limit on spending during the leadership race.

Some Conservative MPs are reported to be angry about the amount of time spent debating leaderships rules, arguing that the momentum from gains made in May’s General Election will be lost. The procedure, drawn up by Mr Howard, would not be finalised until September and the leadership contest would not begin until after the party’s annual conference’s in October. Many MPs are reported to want the process to speeded up.

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis is widely regarded as the favourite to succeed Mr Howard, but a number of other MPs, including Kenneth Clarke, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Alan Duncan are also expected to enter the leadership race.


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