Ten candidates will compete for the leadership of Britain’s leading Conservative Party, it was announced on Monday.
The announcement came shortly after a deadline for official applications to compete to become the Tories’ new leader and Britain’s new prime minister was reached.
Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and Environment Secretary Michael Gove are among the top candidates, according to local media and political circles.
Also throwing their hats into the ring are Home Secretary Sajid Javid, former leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsome, former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, and Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock, all hoping to reach the second round.
Tory MP Mark Harper, former Works and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, and Secretary of State for International Development Rory Stewart are the other hopefuls.
The race for the leadership will continue on Thursday, June 13 with the first round of the election, where candidates must secure the votes of at least 16 MPs, the party’s decision-making 1922 Committee announced.
A series of votes are expected to whittle down the number of candidates to two, and the new leader will be announced by the party in the week starting July 22.
Former leader Theresa May officially resigned the party helm last week but still remains in the top government office until her successor takes over as prime minister.
She was forced out from the leadership by the 1922 Committee after repeatedly failing to secure enough votes for her Brexit deal in the House of Commons.
May had served as Tory leader and prime minister since 2016, succeeding David Cameron, who quit following the EU referendum that June.
The new leader will face the huge task of seeing through Britain’s departure from the EU after more than 40 years of membership.
The U.K. is set to leave the bloc on Oct. 31 after a series of extensions pushed the deadline back from March 31 and, later, April 12.
By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal in London