U.K. Prime Ministership Race: Sky News to Host First Live TV Debate

Sky News will host the first live television debate featuring the contenders for the next leader of the U.K.’s Conservative Party and the country’s next prime minister.

Current prime minister Boris Johnson resigned last week amid mounting scandals and the resignations of his top ministers but will continue in the position until a new leader has been elected by the party.

There are 11 contenders so far, including former Chancellor Rishi Sunak and current Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi; former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, who has the backing of former Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove; Attorney General Suella Braverman; current Foreign Office minister Rehman Chishti; former health secretaries Jeremy Hunt and Sajid Javid; current Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt; current Transport Secretary Grant Shapps; current Foreign Secretary Liz Truss; and chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat.

There is speculation that current Home Secretary Priti Patel might join the fray. Former Brexit minister Steve Baker has dropped his own leadership bid and is backing Braverman while former Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, considered a front runner for the post, has pulled out of the contest.

On July 18, the candidates will face off at the Sky News Studios in West London for a live debate hosted by Kay Burley and will also face questions from a virtual studio audience.

John Ryley, head of Sky News, said: “There has never been a more important time to reinvigorate the trust of voters in the office of the prime minister. This live TV debate on Sky News gives the candidates a chance to reconnect with millions by debating the major issues facing Britain. It presents a unique opportunity to re-engage a disillusioned electorate.”

Unlike the U.S., where live TV debates for the U.S. presidential race began in 1956, it is a relatively recent practice in the U.K. with Sky and other broadcasters hosting the first leaders’ debates in 2010.

The leadership contest will be decided by a national vote of the Conservative Party ballot membership. The winner will be sworn in as U.K. prime minister.