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On July 7, 2022, Boris Johnson announced his intention to resign as leader of the Conservative Party, and to leave the office of Prime Minister after the conclusion of a leadership election.

Could Johnson have stood to be re-elected to the Conservative party leadership in this election?

2 Answers 2

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No, he could not have run for re-election; Rule 2 of Schedule 2 - Rules for the Election of the Leader of the Conservative Party Constitution (as amended January 2021) states that:

A Leader resigning from the Leadership of the Party is not eligible for re-nomination in the consequent Leadership election.

Johnson could not, therefore, have been nominated by the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs as a candidate in this contest. He could, however, run in any subsequent leadership election.

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    Interesting. A lot of media seem to have assumed he can stand (but probably won't), but they've possibly not read the rule book, e.g. The Guardian: "Could Johnson stand again? It would be a highly controversial move". Although the 1922 committee seem quite capable of changing the rules.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 18:52
  • The tories nearly tore up that rule book to kick him out when it wasn't clear he would resign... (allegedly)
    – PatrickT
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 8:28
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    @PatrickT Different rule book - those are the rules of the 1922 committee which cover votes of confidence in the leader, this is the Party's constitution which is harder to amend - see Part XIII of the linked document.
    – CDJB
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 8:47
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    Could he switch parties though? Seems like he couldn't lead the Conservative Party anymore, but he could presumably be PM again if he joined another party? (Not that I think that's at all likely, just wondering if it's technically possible. American here, still somewhat bewildered by UK politics...) Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 15:28
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    @DarrelHoffman he can be PM again if he becomes leader of the largest party in the House of Commons - at the moment the Conservative party have a large majority of the seats in that body. The election campaign about to take place is for the leader of the Conservative party, not for Prime Minister (although whoever becomes the leader will become PM).
    – CDJB
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 15:32
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This used to be possible. From here:

With the Conservative government remaining divided on Europe and much more, John Major, in an attempt to silence his critics and opponents, announced his resignation as party leader – but not as Prime Minister – in June 1995, triggering a leadership election. He was opposed by John Redwood, the Secretary of State for Wales, and Major won the leadership election without much difficulty.

As per CDJB's answer, it appears to be no longer possible under today's rules.

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    That constitution is dated 1998, so post Major.
    – PatrickT
    Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 8:30

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