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Wednesday, 4 July, 2001, 20:12 GMT 21:12 UK
Tories set date for new leader
Ken Clarke with his supporters on Wednesday
Clarke says he has support from all sides
The new leader of the Conservative Party will be announced on 12 September, the chairman of the party's 1922 Committee has confirmed.

The run-in
First ballot of MPs, 10 July
Second ballot, 12 July
Third ballot, 17 July
Ballots to party members, mid-August
11 September voting ends
12 September new leader announced
On the eve of close of nominations for the contest, Sir Michael Spicer nailed down the timetable and fixed a spending limit of 100,000 for each of the five contenders' campaigns.

The timetable means the victor of the contest will make their party conference leadership debut a month after being crowned William Hague's successor.

The first in a series of knock-out ballots to decide the leadership will begin on Tuesday next week. All 166 Tory MPs will vote for their favoured candidate, with the weakest being eliminated until the field is whittled down to two.

The winner will then be decided by a ballot of the party's 300,000 members. Ballot papers will go out in mid-August.

Sir Michael said: "The name of the winning candidate will be announced to a meeting of this committee and representatives of the party at large - this meeting will take place on September 12."

Costs incurred by each candidate count from the day they announced their intention to stand.

Drop nationalism

Earlier in the day, former chancellor Ken Clarke urged the Conservative Party to ditch its "English nationalism" as three former ministers pledged their backing for his leadership bid.

Kenneth Clarke
Clarke: Not playing the numbers game
His comments came as rival candidate Michael Ancram won the support of former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

Meanwhile, rival contender former Europe minister David Davis said his status as an outsider in the race was an advantage as the party needed a "clean break from the past".

With only six days to go before the first leadership vote, frontrunner Michael Portillo and fellow-hopeful shadow defence secretary Iain Duncan Smith were meeting Tory MPs, seeking to persuade them into their respective camps.

'Cut out the nationalism'

Appearing at a Westminster photocall with more than 120 supporters, Mr Clarke said the Tories had behaved "as an English party at the last election".

They had no chance of forming a government in the UK unless they won a "decent number of seats in Wales", he said.

"I am saying to the English in particular, 'Could we cut out the English nationalism and get more relaxed about our Euroscepticism and become moderate Eurosceptics.'"

Michael Ancram
Ancram: Wants commission to "think the unthinkable"
The Tories currently have no seats in Wales and only one in Scotland.

Former chancellor Lord Howe, former transport secretary Sir George Young and former treasury minister John Maples were among new backers who joined Mr Clarke at Westminster.

Mr Clarke also proposed changes to the way in which parliament works.

He told BBC News: "The feeling that parliament doesn't matter any more... was one of the causes why so many people were hostile to the idea of voting for any political party at all."

Mr Ancram named Ruth Lea of the Institute of Directors and Sir Malcolm Rifkind as two of the members of the standing policy commission he wants to establish to come up with radical ideas.

'Untainted' Davis

Meanwhile Mr Davis, writing in the Sun newspaper, said the Tories needed a leader "untainted by the past, who has radical new ideas and who can transform the party".

This commission is going to be fundamental to the way our party develops its policies and we need to attract the best brains

Michael Ancram
"It is an advantage to start as an outsider in this contest, because the Conservatives need a break from the past," he said.

Mr Davis said the Tories must focus on the issues people cared about - hospitals, schools and crime.

Later he revealed that four more MPs had backed him for the leadership bringing the total number to 13.

The new backers are James Paice, Simon Burns, Andrew Mitchell and Graham Brady.

The BBC's Andrew Marr
"Anyone who says they know the winner of the contest is either a fool or a liar"
The BBC's John Pienaar
"Internal Tory elections tend to be unpredictable"
Michael Ancram
speaking at his manifesto launch for the leadership campaign
Michael Ancram
"As a divided party we will never win elections and the first thing we must do is unite"

Recent stories

The final two


See also:

01 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Clarke accused of insulting Tories
18 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Davis, outside challenger
27 Jun 01 | UK Politics
How to choose a Tory leader
30 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Clarke offers jobs to rivals
29 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Portillo welcomes Clarke challenge
29 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Bookies take money on Clarke
28 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Vote beckons in Tory race
27 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Who's backing whom?
04 Jul 01 | BMA Conference
Clarke 'immoral' says leading doctor
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