Sky News has announced it will hold the first TV debate with the Tory leadership candidates vying to replace Boris Johnson.

The live debate is scheduled for 18 July and will be hosted by Kay Burley.

The contenders, gathered at the Sky News studios in West London, will 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.”

Nine candidates have so far announced bids for the Tory leadership – and for Number 10.

They are:

  • Kemi Badenoch, former equalities minister
  • Suella Braverman, the attorney general
  • Jeremy Hunt, former foreign secretary
  • Sajid Javid, former health secretary
  • Penny Mordaunt, international trade minister
  • Grant Shapps, the transport secretary
  • Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor
  • Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the Commons foreign affairs select committee
  • Nadhim Zahawi, the new chancellor

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is expected to announce her bid shortly.

Mr Zahawi has told Sky News that he will run in the debate.

On Sunday the new chancellor faced scrutiny of his tax affairs.

He told Sky News he was “clearly being smeared” over allegations that a “flag” was raised by officials before he was made chancellor on Tuesday – as reported in The Observer.

The debate will be broadcast live and for free on Sky News channel 501, across Sky News’ digital channels, streamed on YouTube, and simulcast to our IRN Commercial Radio partners.