The chairman of the 1922 committee did not agree that Boris Johnson can remain Prime Minister until October on Thursday morning, The Telegraph can reveal, despite suggestions to that effect from Downing Street figures.
Sir Graham Brady, who holds the 1922 post and talked to Mr Johnson around 8.30am today, only agreed that a new prime minister should be in place by October for the party’s conference.
It remains undecided when exactly Mr Johnson will hand over power to his successor now he is resigning. Under the timings Sir Graham discussed, that could happen sooner than October.
Control of when and how the Prime Minister hands over power is not just in Mr Johnson’s hands. The senior figures on the 1922 Committee of backbenchers control the first part of the leadership contest – whittling down Tory MP candidates to a final two.
The second phase, which sees Tory Party members vote for the winning candidate – usually after weeks of leadership hustings – is controlled by the Conservative Party Board.
The new 1922 Committee’s executive is expected to agree the timetable for the first phase on Monday evening, after elections for those positions are held on Monday afternoon.
The Telegraph understands it may be agreed to get Tory MPs to pick a final two candidates before Parliament breaks up for summer recess on July 21 – just three weeks away. Those decisions will be taken on Monday evening.
The final date for the Tory members’ vote will be chosen by the Conservative Party Board. The board is already depleted after Oliver Dowden quit as Tory chairman and Bim Afolami resigned as Tory vice-chairman in recent weeks.
It is possible that just a few weeks of leadership hustings would be agreed before a Tory members’ vote, meaning Mr Johnson’s successor could be selected by late August or early September.
That would call into question whether Mr Johnson can stay in Downing Street until October.
All decisions on timings remain to be taken. But Sir Graham has not agreed Mr Johnson can stay as prime minister until October – despite suggestions to that effect from Downing Street figures.
The Tory Party’s annual conference is being held from October 2 to October 5 in Birmingham.
Number 10 figures are firefighting growing calls from Tory MPs that Mr Johnson quits today and a temporary prime minister steps in while the leadership race is run.
An ally of Mr Johnson told The Telegraph: “Hopefully the party gives him a tiny bit of space to help the country through the cost-of-living crisis. That is first and foremost on his mind.”
Members’ group demands reassurances
Ahead of the meeting on Monday, Conservative Voice, which represents thousands of Tory members, launched a campaign to ensure that a democratic process is followed for the election of a new party leader and prime minister.
The campaign group said it was demanding reassurances from the 1922 Committee that all Conservative Party members will have a chance to vote for one of two candidates.
Conservative Voice will also be hosting a series of hustings events, allowing candidates to debate the future direction of the party and directly hear the views of volunteers from across the country.
Don Porter, founder of Conservative Voice, former chairman of the National Conservative Convention and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Board, said: “Political uncertainty is no excuse for bypassing democracy and history shows us that backroom deals do not work out well.
“Conservative Party members rightly expect to have their voice heard when it comes to shaping the future of their party, country, and who they will be expected to campaign for at the next general election.”