Five scenarios of what will happen next

The Tory leadership election is now underway, as candidates try to get on the ballot paper in a fast-paced contest that will conclude on Friday 28 October.

This is how events could unfold.

Johnson gets 100 sponsors

Those around Boris Johnson are “confident” that he can command the support of 100 MPs as he champions the right wing of the party and leans heavily on the argument that he is the only candidate who could win an election for the conservatives.

He has reportedly already called MPs to promise that the “culture” in Downing Street would change under a new administration, in a bid to stave off concerns about the lasting impact of partygate.

If he were to make it to the bottom two, some polls of Conservative members suggest he would beat either Rishi Sunak or Penny Mordaunt. The members’ vote is his best chance for another prime ministerial position.

Only Sunak gets 100 backers

If Sunak receives more than 100 nominations from Conservative MPs, he will be “crowned” as leader of the Conservative Party without a vote among MPs or party members.

An MP on Sunak’s side said the party that ousted Johnson last time would not accept him so soon, and MPs may be concerned about the public’s reaction to his return.

But with less than a third of the party required to get over the line, Sunak could find himself as prime minister without a clear majority of support among his MPs, and with Johnson on the back bench causing problems during his term.

All three get 100 backers.

There are 357 Conservative MPs, so Johnson, Sunak and Mordaunt are unlikely to be able to get 100 MPs each.

But if that happens, MPs will hold a knockout vote to reduce them to the bottom two, and with the current numbers, it seems likely that Ms Mordaunt will drop out of the race.

In that case, the names of Johnson and Sunak would be assigned to the Conservative members. Some Conservative MPs are concerned that the more votes there are, the more divisive the contest will be, and are urging candidates to compromise.

Johnson and Sunak make a deal

An unlikely outcome would be for Johnson and Sunak to strike a deal with one serving as prime minister and the other in a high-level cabinet post.

Sunak’s allies are urging him to offer Johnson the Home Secretary job in exchange for his support in the race. But those close to Johnson suggest that he would only return to fill the top job.

Johnson could offer Sunak a cabinet job, but his team believes he has the numbers to win in his own right and they recall the tension between the two when they served together earlier this year.

Sunak and Mordaunt make a deal

A more likely alliance could be struck between Mr Sunak and Ms Mordaunt, who between them have the support of the moderate wing of the Conservative Party.

People close to Ms. Mordaunt say she wouldn’t like to play “second fiddle” to Mr. Sunak and think she may win the contest, but as the 2pm Monday deadline approaches, it may become clear. for her who doesn’t have enough followers.

Some MPs who have not yet been declared believe “fixing” the contest by combining the couple’s campaigns could prevent Johnson from reaching 100 nominees and prevent a vote by members.

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