The Conservative Party leadership race to replace Boris Johnson will finally be brought to a close on Monday, having seemingly been running since the dawn of time.
The official Tory membership, believed to be just 170,000 people, will decide which of the final two – foreign secretary Liz Truss or former chancellor Rishi Sunak – is best placed to succeed Mr Johnson and become Britain’s next prime minister.
After seeing off challenges from Penny Mordaunt, Tom Tugendhat, Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braverman, Jeremy Hunt and others, Ms Truss and Mr Sunak have spent August campaigning at 12 Tory hustings events across the country in a contest that has been highly divisive, occasionally personal and attracted plenty of criticism over the failure of both candidates to outline their plans for addressing an increasingly alarming cost of living crisis.
Despite enjoying an initial surge in support among MPs, Mr Sunak has seen his popularity fall away as many in the party ranks hold him responsible for Mr Johnson’s downfall at the start of July, leaving Ms Truss, a Brexit convert, all but certain to win the day, at least according to pollsters.
Party members were sent their ballot papers between 1-5 August and have until 5pm on Friday 2 September to submit them, after which the voting closes and officials will spend the weekend totting up the results.
The winner will finally be announced in Westminster at 12.30pm on Monday 5 September by Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the party’s 1922 Committee of backbenchers.
MPs will return from summer recess that day and Parliament is expected to sit after lunch, from around 2.30pm.
The new leader-in-waiting will meanwhile be expected to spend that afternoon and evening finalising their choices for key cabinet positions.
The next day, Mr Johnson will visit Her Majesty the Queen at Balmoral, her family home in the Scottish highlands, in order to formally tender his resignation as PM.
For the first time in her long reign, the 96-year-old will not conduct this formality at Buckingham Palace.
The winner, be that Ms Truss or Mr Sunak, will also visit the monarch and accept the Queen’s formal invitation to form a government, after which both the outgoing and incoming PMs will be expected to address the nation, something that would ordinarily take place outside of 10 Downing Street.
With those niceties over, she or he will be expected to begin announcing their senior Cabinet appointments and hold meetings with senior civil servants so that they can be handed the nuclear codes and given updates on other key matters of national security.
On Wednesday, the winner will find themselves squaring up to Sir Keir Starmer at the dispatch box in the House of Commons for their first Prime Minister’s Questions at noon.
They can expect to be politely welcomed into their new role and then immediately grilled on their intentions towards the ailing economy and their plans to address skyrocketing energy bills, which threaten to drive millions of Britons into fuel poverty this winter without meaningful state intervention.