Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pulled out of the contest to become the next leader of the Conservative Party and therefore the next Prime Minister, British news agency PA Media reported on Sunday.
Johnson claimed to have secured the support of 100 MPs – the minimum number required to cross the threshold to appear on the Conservative Party member ballot – but refused to run, saying “it just wouldn’t be the right one. thing to do” as “you can’t govern effectively if you don’t have a united party in parliament”, according to PA.
His announcement comes after former UK finance minister Rishi Sunak officially entered the race for the leadership of the Conservative Party, his second bid for the post this year.
Sunak has already garnered the required 100 nominations from Conservative party members to run. Sunak had tried to become leader over the summer following Johnson’s resignation, but lost to Liz Truss who resigned on Thursday.
A runoff between the two men could have been divisive for the ruling Conservative party, not least because many Johnson supporters blame Sunak’s resignation in July as bringing down his government. The Conservatives, in power for 12 years, are currently in turmoil following the resignations of Johnson and Truss.
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Johnson’s possible return to the top job had divided opinion within the Conservative Party, with many lawmakers horrified at the prospect of a second Prime Minister Johnson job. He resigned in July following a series of scandals.
The former Prime Minister is due to appear in the coming weeks before the Commons Privileges Committee which is investigating whether he misled Parliament about parties, which could see him suspended or expelled as an MP.
Sunak said Sunday morning that he would enter the competition. In a tweet, he wrote: “The UK is a great country but we are facing a deep economic crisis. That’s why I’m running to be leader of the Conservative Party and your next prime minister. I want to fix our economy, unite our Party and deliver for our country.
Sunak will face House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt, who said on Sunday she regretted the so-called “mini budget” that led to economic turmoil in Britain and Truss’s resignation.
“I very much regret the mini-budget… I raised concerns even before I was in the cabinet,” Mordant told the BBC in an interview on Sunday, adding that there were details of the budget “that the cabinet didn’t know.”
The last time the Tories held a leadership race – after the Johnson government fell – Truss came in first, Sunak second and Mordaunt third.
Graham Brady, the Conservative official responsible for the process, said any candidate must receive at least 100 nominations from party MPs by 2 p.m. local time on Monday.
Truss resigned on Thursday, just six weeks into his disastrous tenure which plunged Britain deep into political and economic turmoil. His successor will be the fifth prime minister to lead the country since he voted for Brexit in 2016.
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Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labor Party, renewed calls for a general election on Sunday, after saying people were ‘fed up to the back teeth’ with the Conservative leadership and the consequences of the decisions of their government.
“There is a choice to be made. We need general elections! Let the public decide… Do they want to continue with this utter chaos, or do they want stability under a Labor government? Starmer asked during a BBC interview.