The race to become Britain’s new prime minister and Conservative party leader has thrown up a diverse field of candidates.

Home secretary Theresa May, justice secretary Michael Gove, work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb, former defence secretary Liam Fox and former City minister Andrea Leadsom have all declared that they will run.

With the deadline for candidacy now having passed, backbench leader Graham Brady announced the list of candidates on Thursday. MPs needed only to find a proposer and seconder to run.

MPs will vote in successive rounds of ballots to whittle the candidates down to the final two.

The first round of voting takes place on Tuesday, with subsequent rounds taking place each Thursday and Tuesday. The MP with the fewest votes is eliminated each time. Candidates can withdraw at any time.

The names of the final two candidates will then go forward to the Conservative membership to make the final choice.

The two candidates will have several weeks to win Tory members’ support and a series of hustings will take place around the country. In the 2005 leadership contest 11 such events took place.

The final decision will be made with a one-member, one-vote postal ballot.

The winner — and Britain’s new prime minister — will be announced on September 9.

The current system was introduced by William Hague after the 1997 Labour landslide that brought Tony Blair to power. Previously the party leader had been chosen by MPs.

In the 2005 leadership contest that saw David Cameron triumph, former chancellor Ken Clarke was the first to be knocked out, then Mr Fox, leaving Mr Cameron to take on David Davis in the final vote.

Mr Cameron received 134,446 votes to 64,398 for Mr Davis. In total 78 per cent of 253,689 eligible voters took part. However, party membership fell during Mr Cameron’s tenure, to 134,000 by 2013.

The party expects about 150,000 members to be eligible to vote this time.

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