When are the Tory leadership TV debates? Dates, participants left and where to watch

The remaining candidates will be put to the test in live TV debates

Three of the candidate for the leadership TV debates giving speeches at their campaign launches. Left to right: Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss
(Image credit: Getty / Future)

With three candidates remaining in the race to replace Boris Johnson, we've got the details on when and how you can watch the TV leadership debates.

There are both some big names and some lesser well-known faces left in the Tory leadership election. And, rightfully so, the public want to know more about the politics of the people who could become the next Prime Minister - from whether Liz Truss voted leave or remain to how Sunak voted on Brexit.

Well, now's your chance as the contenders are facing three live TV debates in which the public get to ask the questions. Whether you're wondering about their professional or personal life (like Liz Truss's children) - read on to make sure you don't miss out.

When are the Tory leadership TV debates?

There are three debates in total, taking place on Friday 15 July, Sunday 17 July and Monday 25 July 2022. On Tuesday 19 July a debate was scheduled to take place on Sky News, but it was cancelled after two candidates pulled out.

The debates will be broadcast live on Channel 4, ITV and BBC One respectively, and candidates will be answering questions from the British public as well as putting forward their stances on some important issues. Channel 4 confirmed on July 14 that all 5 of the remaining candidates - Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss, Kemi Badenoch and Tom Tugendhat - would be taking part in the first debate. 

Since then, Tugendhat and Badenoch have been knocked out of the competition, and by the time of the final debate on July 25 one more will have been eliminated through voting in Westminster.

However, it wont be until September 5 when the new Prime Minister is announced, following a number of ballots from the candidates' fellow Tory MPs, hustings held country-wide and finally a vote from members of the Conservative Party.

Bob Blackman, the joint executive secretary of the 1922 Committee, said the aim was to have the contest down to a final two by 21 July. 

Friday 15 July - Channel 4

The first debate was broadcast on Channel 4 on Friday 15 July, and was called 'Britain’s Next PM: The Conservative Leadership Debate'. Krishnan Guru-Murthy, one of the main anchors of Channel 4 News, hosted the 90-minute-long debate.

Joanna Potts, a commissioning editor at Channel 4 said "This is a landmark moment in British politics. We are so pleased that the candidates have agreed to take part in the debate to set out their vision for the future of the country." Louisa Compton, Head of News Current Affairs, Specialist Factual and Sport at the channel added "This debate will be essential viewing for those wanting to know more about our next prime minister and what she or he stand for."

Sunday 17 July - ITV

The second debate aired at 7pm, on ITV on July 17, and was recorded at ITV's White City studios.

ITV also aired a leadership debate back in 2019, between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, which was watched by 4.4m people.

Michael Jermey, ITV's Director of News and Current Affairs said: "Television debates at important elections help voters engage with politics. ITV has been the home of some of the biggest political debates over the past decade. Sunday's debate will be an important event as the country's next Prime Minister is chosen."

It was during this debate that all candidates ruled out the possibility of the next general election being held after a new leader is appointed.

Monday 25 July - BBC One

The third and final debate is scheduled to take place at 9pm on BBC One, and will be hosted by Sophie Raworth.

Joining Raworth will be BBC political editor Chris Mason and BBC economics editor Faisal Islam, and the event will take place in front of an audience of between 80 and 100 people in Stoke.

This last debate will be between the final two candidates in the leadership contest, once two more contenders have been knocked out.

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."

Originally, the third debate was scheduled to take place on Tuesday 19 July at 8pm on Sky News, and hosted by Kay Burley. However, the event was cancelled after Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss declined to take part. The previous ITV debate exposed divisions between the two and the cancellation announcement came amid concerns in the Tory party about infighting in the contest.

Who is left in the Tory leadership debate?

There are currently four candidates left in the race to be Conservative leader: Rishi Sunak, Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss. After Boris Johnson announced his resignation, 11 MPs initially confirmed their intention to run, but the number has since been whittled down.

Many wondered whether Dominic Raab would become the next Prime Minister, but the deputy PM ruled himself out of the contest early on, and has instead chosen to back former chancellor Rishi Sunak, who was one of the first of many ministers to resign from the Johnson government.

  • Rishi Sunak is the current frontrunner in the leadership contest. He recently resigned as Chancellor and is reportedly the richest man in the House of Commons - leaving many wanting to know Sunak's net worth
  • Penny Mordaunt is currently ranking second, and polls show she's very popular with Conservative party members. Mordaunt is a staunch Brexiteer and currently a trade minister.
  • Liz Truss is the Foreign Secretary and, unlike Sunak and Mordaunt, she didn't vote to leave the EU in 2016. However, she has since changed her views and is now a supporter of Brexit.

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Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.