With a vacuum in leadership, Conservative Party MPs are to cast their vote on 5 July to eliminate the first candidate from a five-person shortlist. The MPs will decide between Theresa May, Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom, Stephen Crabb and Liam Fox for who they want to succeed David Cameron as party leader, and ultimately prime minister of Britain.

Home Secretary May is named as both the bookies' favourite and the candidate with the most number of declared support with around 120 MPs.

Fox, who had to resign from his role as defence secretary in disgrace in 2011, is predicted to be the first candidate to drop out of the race as he has the least public backing from his fellow MPs, with only seven showing support, according to Conservative Home.

The MPs will begin their voting at around 11am, with the results expected around 7pm. Another round of voting will then take place on 7 July to decide the final two candidates, with the new party leader then chosen by Tory party members.

In a poll for Conservative Home, May and Leadsom are the two main candidates in the race, with Leadsom holding a narrow lead of 38% to May's 37%. Paul Goodman, editor of Conservative Home, said: "In any other month in living memory, 37% would have been enough to lead the survey. But not any more. This is because the contest that our Party respondents want is a two-horse race – a final of Leadsom v May, who between them mop up 75% of the vote."

However, in a separate YouGov poll for the Times, 63% of Tory party members said they would vote for May, compared to 31% for Leadsom.

Elsewhere, former expected leadership candidate Boris Johnson has backed Leadsom to be the new party leader, describing the energy secretary as having "zap, drive and determination" to lead Britain.

He added: "She has long championed the needs of the most vulnerable in our society. She has a better understanding of finance than almost anyone else in parliament. She has considerable experience of government."

The move was described by one MP as "revenge served cold" against Gove, whose last minute decision to enter the race effectively ended Johnson's ambition to become the new party leader.

Tory MPs
From left: Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom, Liam Fox, Theresa May, Stephen Crabb Getty Images