Conservative Party leadership contenders

The Conservative Party leadership contest is underway. Ten contenders official entered the contest. They have now been narrowed down to the final two, who will now face a vote of Conservative Party members. 

Who are the final two contenders? | What are their Brexit proposals? | What have they said about other issues? | What happened in the first phase of the contest?

Who are the final two contenders for the Conservative Party leadership?

The two final contenders for the Conservative Party leadership are Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson. They will now face hustings across the country before party members cast their votes.

Jeremy Hunt is the current Foreign Secretary, a role he has held since July 2018. Previously he was Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (2012–18) and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (2010–12). Since the 2005 General Election he has been the Member of Parliament for South West Surrey.

Boris Johnson was Foreign Secretary between July 2016 and July 2018, when he resigned over the Government’s white paper proposals for the future relationship between the UK and the EU. He was Mayor of London between 2008 and 2016. He has been the Member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since the 2015 General Election. He was also the MP for Henley from 2001–08, a post he resigned from once he won the London mayoralty.

What are their policy proposals?

Brexit is the defining issue of the leadership contest. The candidates are setting out their positions based on a number of big questions, including their preferred Brexit outcome, whether or not they would leave without a deal and if they are open to a further extension.




Preferred Brexit outcome

Re-negotiated deal

Re-negotiated deal

Prepared to extend Article 50

Not ruled out


Leave with no deal Not ruled out Not ruled out
Current deal Not ruled out Not ruled out
Prepared to prorogue Parliament to secure no deal? No No

Resolve Brexit before the next general election

Legislate to prepare for no deal

Negotiating ask Remove the backstop Remove the backstop
Negotiating strategy New negotiating team (including the European Research Group and the Democratic Unionist Party)  Be serious about leaving with no deal, threaten not to pay the £39 billion 'divorce bill'


  Harder Brexit


Where do they stand on other issues?

The table below sets out the commitments made by the various leadership contenders on issues other than Brexit. Not all contenders have made commitments across all the policy areas identified.




Public spending

Increase defence spending

Maintain foreign aid commitment

Bring school spending up to £5,000 per pupil


Reduction in corporation tax

Wants business taxes to be ‘lowest in Europe’

Raise income tax threshold for 40p rate and upper earnings limit for National Insurance from £50k to £80k


Reduced interest on student debt

Repayment of fees for students who go on to set up their own  businesses

US-UK trade policy Supports a trade agreement with the US but NHS not part of talks  
Public services

Mental health support teams in schools



In favour of HS2

1.5 million homes for young people over next 10 years

Against HS2

Equivocal position on Heathrow expansion 

Fast internet connection to every home in the UK by 2025

Climate change and environment Legislate for net zero emissions by 2050  Legislate for net zero emissions by 2050
Scottish independence Against a second referendum Against a second referendum


What happened in the first phase of the contest?

The first phase of the contest consisted of recurring rounds of votes by Conservative MPs.

Three contenders – James Cleverly, Sam Gyimah and Kit Malthouse – dropped out before the race formally began.

The results of each round of voting were:


Successful (votes)

Eliminated (votes)

13 June Michael Gove (37)

Matt Hancock (20)

Jeremy Hunt (43)

Sajid Javid (23)

Boris Johnson (114)

Dominic Raab (27)

Rory Stewart (19)
Mark Harper (10)*

Andrea Leadsom (11)*

Esther McVey (9)*
18 June Michael Gove (41)

Jeremy Hunt (46)

Sajid Javid (33)

Boris Johnson (126)

Rory Stewart (37)
Dominic Raab (30)*
19 June Michael Gove (51)

Jeremy Hunt (54)

Sajid Javid (38)

Boris Johnson (143)
Rory Stewart (27)
20 June – morning Michael Gove (61)

Jeremy Hunt (59)

Boris Johnson (157)
Sajid Javid (34)
20 June – afternoon Jeremy Hunt (77)

Boris Johnson (160)
Michael Gove (75)

*Indicates candidates did not mean necessary threshold: 5% of votes (16) on 13 June and 10% of votes (32) on 18 June. Despite meeting the first round threshold, Matt Hancock pulled out of the race on 13 June.