Britain’s PA news agency reported on Sunday that former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dropped out of the race to become the next Conservative Party leader and therefore the next prime minister.
Johnson said he had the support of 100 MPs – the minimum number needed to clear the threshold for Conservative Party members to appear on the ballot – but ruled out running, saying “it wouldn’t be the right thing to do”. “Unless you have a united party in Parliament, you cannot govern effectively,” said Podujana Peramuna.
His announcement comes after Britain’s former finance minister Rishi Sunak officially entered the race to lead the Conservative Party, his second bid for the post this year.
Sunak has already collected the necessary 100 nominations from Tory party members to run. Sunak tried to become leader in the summer following Johnson’s resignation, but lost out to outgoing Liz Truss on Thursday.
A run-off between the two men could have split the ruling Conservative Party, as many of Johnson’s supporters blame Sunak’s resignation in July for triggering the fall of his government. The Conservative Party, which has been in power for 12 years, is in turmoil following the resignations of both Johnson and Truss.
Johnson’s return to the top job caused divisions within the Conservative Party, with many lawmakers horrified at the prospect of a second Johnson prime ministership. He resigned in July following a series of scandals.
The former prime minister is expected to appear before a Commons privilege committee in the next few weeks, which is investigating whether he misled parliament over parties, which could see him suspended or expelled as an MP.
Sunak announced his resignation on Sunday morning. In a tweet, he said: “The United Kingdom is a great country but we are facing a deep economic crisis. That is why I am standing as 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 be up against House of Commons leader Benny Mordant, who on Sunday lamented the economic turmoil in Britain and the so-called “mini budget” that led to the resignation of Trudeau.
“I am very sorry about the mini-budget … I raised concerns before I was in the cabinet,” Mordant told the BBC in an interview on Sunday, adding that the details of the budget were “not known to the cabinet”.
The last time the Conservatives held a leadership race – following the demise of Johnson’s government – Truss was first, Sunak second and Mordant third.
Graham Brady, the Conservative official in charge of the process, said any candidate must receive at least 100 nominations from the party’s MPs by 2pm local time on Monday.
Truss resigned on Thursday, six weeks into his disastrous tenure that has plunged Britain deeper into political and economic turmoil. His successor will be the fifth prime minister to lead the country since the vote for Brexit in 2016.
Keir Starmer, the leader of the main opposition Labor party, renewed calls for a general election on Sunday after saying people were “fed up to the teeth” with the Conservative leadership and the consequences of their government’s decisions.
“A choice has to be made. A general election! Let the public decide… do they want to continue this complete chaos or do they want stability under a Labor government?” Starmer asked during a BBC interview.
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