The final decision is taken by the members in a postal ballot
The CON race has moved on fast following tonight’s first round of MP voting and the decision of Crabb to drop out and back May. The next stage is Thursday’s second round of MP voting to decide the shortlist of two that will go to the members.
Certainly the Home Secretary is in an enormously strong position coming out of the first round so well and now having the backing of both Crabb and Fox. On Thursday night the battle will move to a new stage – the fight to win the support of Tory members.
Unlike Labour there is no “Three Quid” rule – it is only those who have been members for three months or more who will be able to vote.
The initial question is which two of the three remaining will be on the final shortlist. It could be that Team May decide that Gove is a less risky opponent than Leadsom and might encourage some tactical voting to ensure that it is he, not Leadsom, who is in the final two.
Once that’s resolved there will be a secret ballot which will mostly take place in August with the outcome being known on September 2nd.
No doubt there’ll be TV debates and hustings with a huge amount of media interest. This is the first time that the party’s electoral process involving all the members has taken place while the party has been in government and they’ll be choosing the next PM.
All I’m saying is that a lot could happen in the next nine weeks. This week is the end of the beginning.