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CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADERSHIP ELECTIONS 1965-2016

1965 28 July        
Parliamentary ballot First ballot Second ballot    
  MPs % Cancelled:
Maudling &
Powell withdrew.
No entry of
new candidates
   
Edward Heath 150 50.3    
Reginald Maudling 133 44.6    
Enoch Powell 15 5.0    
Abstentions/spoilt 6 (2.0)    
             
             
             
1975 4 February 11 February
Parliamentary ballot First ballot Second ballot    
  MPs % MPs %    
Margaret Thatcher 130 47.1 146 52.9    
Edward Heath * 119 43.1 - -    
Hugh Fraser 16 5.8 - -    
William Whitelaw - - 79 28.6    
Geoffrey Howe - - 19 6.9    
James Prior - - 19 6.9    
John Peyton - - 11 4.0    
Abstentions/spoilt 11 4.0 2 0.7    
             
             
             
1989 5 December        
Parliamentary ballot MPs %        
Margaret Thatcher * 314 84.0        
Anthony Meyer 33 8.8        
Abstentions/spoilt 27 7.2        
             
             
             
1990 20 November 27 November    
Parliamentary ballot First ballot Second ballot Third ballot
  MPs % MPs % Cancelled:
Heseltine &
Hurd said they
would support
Major
Margaret Thatcher * 204 54.8 - -
Michael Heseltine 152 40.9 131 35.2
John Major - - 185 49.7
Douglas Hurd - - 56 15.1
Abstentions/spoilt 16 4.3 0 0
             
             
             
1995 4 July        
Parliamentary ballot MPs %        
John Major ** 218 66.3        
John Redwood 89 27.1        
Abstentions/spoilt 22 6.7        
             
             
             
1997 10 June 17 June 19 June
Parliamentary ballot First ballot Second ballot Third ballot
  MPs % MPs % MPs %
William Hague 41 25.0 62 37.8 92 56.8
Kenneth Clarke 49 29.9 64 39.0 70 43.2
John Redwood 27 16.5 38 23.2 - -
Peter Lilley 24 14.6 - - - -
Michael Howard 23 14.0 - - - -
Abstentions/spoilt † 0 0 0 0 2 (1.2)

 

2001 10 July 12 July 17 July 13 September
Parliamentary-membership ballots First MP ballot Rerun first MP ballot Second MP ballot All-member ballot
  MPs % MPs % MPs % Votes %
Iain Duncan Smith 39 23.5 42 25.3 54 32.5 155,933 60.7
Kenneth Clarke 36 21.7 39 23.5 59 35.5 100,864 39.3
Michael Portillo 49 29.5 50 30.1 53 31.9 - -
David Davis 21 12.7 18 10.8 - - - -
Michael Ancram 21 12.7 17 10.2 - - - -
              Turnout: 79%
                 
                 
2003 29 October        
Confidence vote Confidence No confidence        
  MPs % MPs %        
Iain Duncan Smith * 75 45.5 90 54.5        
                 
                 
Leadership contest 6 November        
Michael Howard Howard declared winner after being only candidate to be nominated  
                 
                 
                 
2005 18 October 20 October 6 December    
Parliamentary-membership ballots First MP ballot Second MP ballot All-member ballot    
  MPs % MPs % Votes %    
David Cameron 56 28.3 90 45.5 134,446 67.6    
David Davis 62 31.3 57 28.8 64,398 32.4    
Liam Fox 42 21.2 51 25.8 - -    
Kenneth Clarke 38 19.2 - - - -    
          Turnout: 78%    
               
               
               
2016              
Parliamentary-membership ballots 6 July 8 July      
  MPs % MPs % All-member ballot    
Theresa May 165 50.2 199 60.5 Ballot cancelled after Leadsom voluntarily withdrew. May declared winner.    
Andrea Leadsom 66 20.1 84 25.5    
Michael Gove 48 14.6 46 14.0    
Stephen Crabb 34 10.3 - -    
Liam Fox 16 4.9 - -      

 

Notes
Parliamentary ballots
(1965-97 contests): candidates needed majority of eligible voters and 15% lead over nearest rival to win in first ballot (majority of votes cast and 15% lead in 1965 contest); candidates needed majority of eligible voters to win in second ballot, during which new candidates could enter contest; candidates needed majority of votes case to win in third ballot.
Parliamentary-membership ballots (2001-05 contests): eliminative ballots of MPs to produce two candidates, who went forward to all-member ballot. Leader ejected by confidence vote triggered by 15% of Tory MPs demanding ballot in writing to chairman of 1922 committee.
* Incumbent
** Major was the incumbent in 1995 but resigned his position as party leader to instigate leadership election
† For 1965, vote shares are expressed as a percentage of votes cast for all ballots and so abstentions and spoilt ballots are not included in the total percentages. Abstentions and spoilt ballots are included in calculations of vote shares in the first and second ballots but not the third ballot for 1975-97.
2016: Crabb voluntarily withdrew after first ballot. Leadsom voluntarily withdrew three days after second ballot. 1992 Committee decided not to elevate Gove to second place nor to re-open nominations. One MP abstained in parliamentary ballots (David Cameron). 

Sources: D. Butler and G. Butler, Twentieth-Century British Political Facts, 1900-2000 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2000), pp. 135-6; K. Alderman and N. Carter, ‘The Conservative Party Leadership Election of 2001’, Parliamentary Affairs, 55:4 (2002), 569-85, pp. 579, 583; A. Denham and K. O’Hara, Democratising Conservative Leadership Selection: From Grey Suits to Grass Roots (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2008), pp. 96, 98-9, 154, 159-60; R. Kelly and P. Lester, ‘Leadership Elections: Conservative Party’, House of Commons Standard Note SN/PC/1366, 7 December 2005; BBC, Tory leadership: Theresa May tops vote but Fox and Crabb', BBC News, 6 July 2016; BBC, Theresa May v Andrea Leadsom to be next prime minister, BBC News, 8 July 2016.


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