Boris Johnson’s long farewell as Prime Minister will end in eight weeks, senior Tory figures have told Sky News.
Members of the powerful 1922 executive committee, which will set the timetable for leadership elections, want his successor in Downing Street on September 5.
“We expect a new prime minister to be chosen in time for the September session,” a senior Conservative MP familiar with the process told Sky News.
The House of Commons is due to go into summer recess in just under two weeks on July 21, with MPs returning to Westminster for three weeks on September 5, ahead of the autumn party conferences.
The 1922 Committee, led by veteran Tory MP Sir Graham Brady, is set to reject former prime minister Sir John Major’s call for Mr. Johnson be removed now, involving the caretaker prime minister.
But the executive members of the 22 – known in Westminster folklore as “the men in the gray suits” – oppose Mr Johnson’s wish to stay in his post until the Tory conference in early October.
“It is expected that we will have two candidates before the holidays,” added the high-ranking deputy. “So Boris Johnson only has two PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions).”
The two sessions, which are likely to see a defiant Mr Johnson come out to fight opposition MPs and his enemies on the Tory benches, take place next Wednesday, July 13, and a week later on July 20.
The proposed schedule means Mr Johnson may also have attended his last international meetings with world leaders when he attended the Commonwealth, G7 and NATO summits late last month.
Asked whether Johnson would attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York, which opens on Tuesday, September 13, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “That depends on the 1922 Committee.”
It also emerged that a wedding party at Checkers over the summer, planned by Mr Johnson and wife Kerry, which critics claimed was one of the reasons he wanted to hang on to power, will now take place elsewhere.
Tory MPs will elect a new 1922 Committee executive on Monday, but the current executive met just hours after Mr Johnson’s Downing Street resignation announcement and no change in current thinking is expected.
The timetable for the leadership election will be announced after Monday’s executive election, with nominations likely to open on Tuesday, with early rounds of parliamentary voting expected later next week.
According to the rules, the last-placed candidate is eliminated after each round of parliamentary voting until only two remain and the party’s 100,000 members elect a new leader and the country’s next prime minister.
The nomination change is intended to “exclude non-jumps”
However, there is some concern among high-ranking MPs about the number of candidates who say they can take part in the competition.
Some deputies believe that there may be 10 or even 12 candidates.
Apart from established frontrunners such as Ben Wallace, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat, Suella Braverman, Rishi Sunak, Nadhim Zahavi and possibly Sajid Javid and Grant Shapps, some unknown backbenchers have suggested they could run.
While senior backbencher and leading Brexiteer Steve Baker is a household name, relatively unknown MPs John Baron and Rehman Chishti have suggested they could run, to the dismay of MPs who want a quick contest.
One of the key decisions for the next chapter of 1922 will be the number of nominations needed to get on the ballot.
It currently stands at eight, but some Tory MPs want it raised to 20 to exclude those who do not keep up.