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Clarke: Leader of the pack

Five Runners in Stalls

Nominations have closed for the election of a new Conservative Leader.

As expected there are five runners: Kenneth Clarke, Peter Lilley, John Redwood, William Hague and Michael Howard.

The chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, Sir Archie Hamilton, has spoken of the need for an early end to the contest. He told Radio 4's The World at One: "The sooner we can get this over and done with the better, because we do need a new leader to galvanise the party and get us organised and make sure that we are a really professional opposition."

1922 committee chairman Sir Archie Hamilton
Sir Archie Hamilton tells Nick Clarke that he wants a quick contest
He also said that he would have preferred candidates with a broadly similar political outlook agreeing among themselves on a single candidate. But acknowledging his neutral role in the leadership race he said: "I really think it is going to be a question of allowing the different party camps to slug this out. I'm not sure there is a role for me to ask people to stand down because all sorts of things can be read into that."

The Odds

Former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke has moved into pole position with bookmakers William Hill giving him odds of 5/6.

The odds on the otherss are: William Hague (6/5), Peter Lilley (11/2), Michael Howard (16/1) and John Redwood (33/1).

Most commentators believe that while Mr Clarke is likely to gain the highest number of votes but he is unlikely to gain the necessary votes to win in the first round. To do so a candidate must obtain more than 50% of the votes and also have a clear margin of 15% more than the runner-up.

Proposers and seconders

John Redwood
John Redwood says the party must avoid divisions on Europe
Kenneth Clarke was formally proposed by former deputy PM Michael Heseltine and seconded by former Tory chairman Sir Norman Fowler.

Mr Hague's proposer was Sir Peter Tapsell and seconder was former Paymaster-General David Heathcote-Amory.

Mr Howard was proposed by his former ministerial colleague David Maclean and seconded by new MP Andrew Lansley.

Mr Lilley was proposed by former Education Secretary Gillian Shephard and seconded by Sir Patrick Cormack.

Mr Redwood was proposed by Euro-sceptic backbencher Iain Duncan-Smith and seconded by for Agriculture Minister Angela Browning.

The 1922 committee supervises the election with the first round of voting, limited to Tory MPs, being held next Tuesday between 10 am and 5 pm.

And Then There Were Five...

Diana, Princess of Wales, 1961-1997

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