Tory party facing calls to change leadership election rules to make it easier for a popular candidate to replace Theresa May

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Conservative grassroots activists are planning to pressure the party’s ruling board to change the leadership election rules to make it easier for a popular candidate like Boris Johnson to succeed Theresa May.

John Strafford, a campaigner for greater democracy in the Tory party, is writing to the party’s board urging it to change the rules so that any MP with the support of 20 Parliamentary colleagues can go forward to the final ballot among the party’s members.

The current rules allow MPs on the party’s backbench 1922 committee to nominate just two candidates to go forward to selection which has prompted concerns that an MP popular with the grassroots – like Mr Johnson – will not go forward to the final run-off.

The plans would be a boost for Mr Johnson who is said by friends to be mulling when to launch his bid for the leadership of the party.

Mr Johnson is also said to be planning a speech in the days before the party conference overshadowing Theresa May’s attempts will seek to rally support among the party faithful for her Chequers deal.

His spokesman said that Mr Johnson had not “agreed to any speech on platform with anybody”, however.

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