Boris Johnson has dramatically pulled out of the race to become Conservative Party leader, leaving former Chancellor Rishi Sunak in a dominant position to win the contest and become prime minister.
The former prime minister had raced home from a holiday in the Caribbean to try and secure the backing of 100 Tory MPs to enter the ballot to replace Liz Truss, who was forced to resign on Oct. 20, just six weeks after replacing Johnson in 10 Downing Street.
But in a statement issued on Sunday evening, Johnson said he was pulling out, despite having secured enough nominations, because he would not be able to unite the party even if he won the contest.
‘Not the Right Time’
Johnson wrote that he had been “attracted” to the idea of becoming prime minister again because he led the Tories into a “massive election victory” in 2019 and would therefore be “uniquely placed” to resist opposition calls for an immediate general election, which Labour is widely expected to win by a landslide.
Johnson said he had secured 102 nominations, though only 57 Tory MPs have voiced their support for his bid publicly.
He said there was “a very good chance” that he would be successful in the election with Conservative Party members and could be back in Downing Street on Friday.
“But in the course of the last days I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do,” he said. “You can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament.”
“Therefore I am afraid the best thing is that I do not allow my nomination to go forward and commit my support to whoever succeeds,” he wrote, adding: “I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time.”
Sunak Leads Contest
Johnson’s withdrawal leaves the election to replace Liz Truss as potentially a straight fight between Sunak, who has garnered 146 public declarations of support, and Mordaunt, who has so far got just 24.
It could all be over a little after 2 p.m. on Monday if Mordaunt fails to get enough nominations to go forward.
Her supporters will be hoping that the departure of Johnson will open up the contest, enabling her to make it onto the ballot paper.
If she does, MPs will hold an “indicative vote” to show who they support and there will then be an online poll of Tory activists to decide the contest, unless one or other of the candidates stands down.
Source: The Epoch Times