Boris Johnson says he will not stand in the Conservative leadership race

Rishi Sunak very likely to enter No 10 as the next British prime minister

Boris Johnson will not stand in the Conservative leadership race, leaving Rishi Sunak very likely to enter No 10 as the next British prime minister following the resignation of Liz Truss.

Mr Sunak, the former UK chancellor, announced on Sunday he will stand for the Conservative party leadership contest amid strengthening support among party MPs for his candidacy.

Mr Johnons, a 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, Mr Johnson spoke to rivals Mr Sunak and Penny Mordaunt in a bid to persuade them to get onboard with his attempted political comeback.


However, Mr 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 Mr Sunak and Ms 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.

Mr Sunak has more than 140 declared supporters, while Ms Mordaunt is lagging behind on 25.

Some MPs had warned they would resign the Tory whip and sit in the Commons as independents if Mr Johnson returned to Downing Street.

Mr Sunak, who lost in the leadership election to Liz Truss earlier this summer, said earlier when declaring his candidacy that he wants to “fix our economy, unite our party and deliver for our country”.

Former home secretary Suella Braverman, who resigned on Wednesday, on Sunday said she is supporting Rishi Sunak’s bid to become prime minister.

Ms Braverman, who served as attorney general under Mr Johnson, is a major figure on the right of the party and it was thought that she may have made a leadership bid herself.

Earlier, in his statement, posted on Twitter, Mr Sunak said: “The choice our party makes now will decide whether the next generation of British people will have more opportunities than the last. “That’s why I am standing to be your next prime minister and leader of the Conservative Party. I want to fix our economy, unite our country and deliver for our country. “I served as your chancellor, helping to steer our economy through the toughest of times,” he said.

“The challenges we face now are even greater. But the opportunities — if we make the right choice — are phenomenal.”

Ms Mordaunt, who has also declared in the leadership contest, is far behind her potential rivals on public support from MPs.

Setting out her plan to “unite the party and the country” in the Express, she warned the Tories had “let ourselves become distracted by internal disputes”.

Mr Johnson would have been a “guaranteed disaster” and his administration would “implode” if he returned as prime minister, according to a Conservative minister.

Steve Baker’s intervention came during a fresh round of blows traded by Conservative MPs in support of their favoured leadership candidate during the Sunday morning broadcast interviews. Northern Ireland minister Mr Baker, an influential figure on the Tory right, offered his backing to Mr Sunak.

International Trade Secretary and former leadership contender Kemi Badenoch threw her weight behind the ex-chancellor, insisting it was not the time for “nostalgia for the cavalier elan of 2019″.

She admitted she had “on occasion” been a member of “the Boris Johnson fan club”, but she said the Tories are not “organising a popularity contest”, and stressed the party is “not a vehicle for any one individual’s personal ambitions”.

Moments after Mr Johnson landed back in the UK on Saturday, ex-home secretary Priti Patel said he had her support — but his potential bid suffered a setback as former close allies Steve Barclay and former Brext minister David Frost urged colleagues to back Mr Sunak.