Boris Johnson will not stand in the Conservative leadership race, leaving Rishi Sunak very likely to enter No 10.
The former prime minister had not formally declared but he had told supporters he wanted to run, drumming up backing from seven cabinet ministers – Jacob Rees-Mogg, James Cleverly, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Nadhim Zahawi, Alok Sharma, Simon Clarke and Chris-Heaton Harris.
After cutting short a Caribbean holiday, Johnson spoke to rivals Sunak and Penny Mordaunt in a bid to persuade them to get onboard with his attempted political comeback.
However, Johnson has said he is not running after only making it to about 60 declared backers by Sunday afternoon – well short of the 100-MP threshold required to make it on to the ballot.
The former prime minister said that he would not run despite having the support of the MPs required. He said he had come to the conclusion “this would simply not be the right thing to do” as “you can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in Parliament”.
He said that due to the failure to reach a deal with Sunak and Mordaunt, “I am afraid the best thing is that I do not allow my nomination to go forward and commit my support to whoever succeeds”.
“I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time,” the former prime minister said.
Sunak has more than 140 declared supporters, while Mordaunt is lagging behind on 25.
More details follow …