Tory leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak will come together for their first TV debate tonight on BBC One.
The live broadcast will be crucial for the pair as they hope to secure support before 160,000 Tory members vote when ballot papers arrive next week.
Although hustings will be happening across the UK in the coming weeks, many members won’t get the opportunity to hear the potential leaders’ policies in person, and so the debate is essential in laying out the positions of both runners.
When is the leadership debate?
The Our Next Prime Minister debate will take place on Monday night and will be aired at 9pm on BBC 1.
Sophie Raworth will present the debate which is set to take place in front of an audience of between 80 and 100 people in a studio at Stoke-on-Trent.
Stoke was one of the many constituencies that the Conservatives managed to gain in the landslide 2019 election; the BBC picked it because it is thought it could be a good measure of whether the candidates can hold on to those seats won when Boris Johnson was leader.
Jonathan Munro, the interim director of BBC News and Current Affairs, said: “We’re delighted to be offering BBC audiences the chance to be part of this pivotal moment in politics and hear, first hand, from the final two candidates as they compete to succeed Boris Johnson as prime minister.”
How to watch the debate live
You can watch the debate live on BBC One at 9pm, and it will be available on iPlayer for those who wish to catch up after the airing.
The 60 minute programme will be simulcast on BBC Radio 5 Live with coverage continuing after the debate and across BBC News Online and the BBC News Channel.
After the debate, the BBC will also invite the final two candidates to take part in a televised one on one interview with Nick Robinson in Our Next Prime Minister: The Interviews. Details for the interview have not been released yet.
Leadership election schedule
A second head-to-head TV debate will be held on Sky News on Thursday 4 August at 8pm. The programme will be hosted by Kay Burley.
Ms Truss and Mr Sunak will also take to the road to participate in 12 hustings organised by the party across the UK.
The dates and venues are:
- Leeds on July 28, Exeter on 1 August
- Cardiff on 3 August
- Eastbourne on 5 August
- Darlington on 9 August
- Cheltenham on 11 August
- Perth on 16 August
- Northern Ireland on 17 August
- Manchester on 19 August
- Birmingham on 23 August
- Norwich on 25 August
- London on 31 August
How do the polls currently stand?
Ms Truss is the early frontrunner, but Mr Sunak topped the earlier vote among Tory MPs.
Polls and surveys of Tory party members suggest Mrs Truss, is well ahead of Mr Sunak.
A YouGov poll of Tory members carried out on 20-21 July showed 31 per cent of the membership intend to vote for Rishi Sunak, while 49 per cent intend to vote for Liz Truss.
A further 15 per cent currently don’t know how they will vote, and six per cent said they will abstain.
This puts the headline voting intention at 62 per cent for Ms Truss and 38 per cent for Mr Sunak, excluding the people who are currently unsure or won’t vote.
Surveys by ConservativeHome have claimed Ms Truss as having a considerable lead over Mr Sunak.
Truss is believed to have emerged as favourite in the race as she is considered a candidate to bring change.
While Mr Sunak, who served as Boris Johnson’s Chancellor before quitting, is thought to be less favoured as it’s thought he would continue policies introduced by Boris Johnson’s Government