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In elections there is normally a set of rules for running the election and those rules are either consistent from vote to vote, or there is a clear process for changing the rules.

In the summer of 2022, the Conservative party held a leadership election. One of the rules was that "candidates needed the nominations of 20 Conservative MPs" (source) to enter the first round, and 30 votes to proceed to the second. (This was apparently to rapidly eliminate candidates with very little support in the Parliamentary party.

In October, in a second leadership election, 100 nominations are required, a substantial barrier which may well result in only one candidate and a "coronation". It may eliminate the party membership from a role in the selection of a leader. (source) Had the July election been run under October rules, there would have been no candidates at all!

By comparison, in 2019, only 8 nominating MPs were required.

How was the rule changed? How much could the rules governing the election of a leader be changed?

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    It is not clear that a rule has changed. It seems that the rule is 'must meet the fixed threshold set by 1922 committee' but that threshold is fixed per competition not by the rules themselves.
    – Jontia
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 8:42
  • 1
    The title and the body of this question are asking different questions. Do you want to know why it was changed, or how it was changed and how much it could be changed in theory? Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 18:16
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    @jack I've edited. The clearest question phrase is "How come". I'm not asking about the motivation, but the process by which the two elections can be held under such different rules, and if there are explicit limits on how much the rules can be changed. For example could 50% of the parliamentary party be required for nomination, which would guarantee that only one candidate would emerge. I'm asking how the rules are set and how they can be changed.
    – James K
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 18:46
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    This still isn't clear. If you mean "how (by what process) did it come about," that's very different from the way most people interpret "how come," which to many people is just a synonym for "why."
    – Beanluc
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 19:53
  • Yes I mean How (by what process) did the rules come to be set and is there any limit to this process.
    – James K
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 20:35

2 Answers 2

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The house of commons library confirms this as essentially unanswerable. As posted in a comment it is not clear that the rules have been changed. At each leadership election the head of the 1922 committee announces a threshold of support required for candidates to be placed on the ballot of MPs. How that threshold is determined is an internal matter.

Commons Library

The rules and procedures for stage 1 of a leadership election are determined by the Executive of the 1922 Committee in consultation with the Conservative Party Board. This will include how an MP can be validly nominated.

The rules are not in a publicly available document. Each time a leadership election is held the chair of the 1922 Committee will announce the rules to be followed and the timetable.

So it appears Graham Brady simply announces the level he wants and it is within his gift to pick any number.

"We fixed a high threshold but a threshold that should be achievable by any serious candidate who has a prospect of going through," Sir Graham said.

As for why a high level has been chosen this time, that would require speculation on internal motivations,but given the desire to have a replacement in place quickly a small field is probably required.

Sir Graham has already said that the new prime minister will be chosen by Friday 28 October, with Ms Truss to stay on as PM until then.

The 28th is 8 days after Truss resigned, last time round resignation to being reduced to two for membership vote took 13 days.

Timeline Red line is Johnson's resignation, the yellows elimination of various candidates. Timeline

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  • What are the lines after it was reduced to Truss and Sunak? Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 16:15
  • @AzorAhai-him- green is first head to head debate, next ballots sent out, last Hastings, result announced.
    – Jontia
    Commented Oct 23, 2022 at 18:41
  • why does he line for braverman start before the resignation?
    – whoisit
    Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 9:44
  • @whoisit Braverman announced she would run before Johnson resigned. spectator.co.uk/article/… Note the time of the article is 5am, whereas Johnson resigned that afternoon.
    – Jontia
    Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 10:49
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Further to @Jontia's answer, the whole process flows from this clause in Schedule 2 to the Conservative Party Constitution:

Upon the initiation of an election for the Leader, it shall be the duty of the 1922 Committee to present to the Party, as soon as reasonably practicable, a choice of candidates for election as Leader. The rules for deciding the procedure by which the 1922 Committee selects candidates for submission for election shall be determined by the Executive Committee of the 1922 Committee after consultation of the Board.

Here, "The 1922 Committee" consists of all Conservative MPs who do not hold ministerial positions; "The Party" means the wider party membership beyond Parliament; and the small group of people standing around Graham Brady when he announced the hundred-nominations threshold were the other members of "The Executive Committee of the 1922 Committee" plus one representative of "The Board" (Jake Berry).

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