Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has dropped out of the race to become the next leader of the Conservative Party, thereby becoming the next prime minister, PA Media reported on Sunday.
Johnson claimed to have garnered the support of 100 MPs – the minimum required to clear the Tory membership threshold – but refused to run, saying “it’s simply not the right thing to do” because “unless you’re in Parliament” There is a unified party, otherwise you cannot govern effectively,” the PA said.
His announcement comes after former UK finance minister Rishi Sunak officially entered the race to lead the Conservative Party, his second attempt at the role this year.
Sunak has collected the 100 nominations he needs from Conservative Party members to run. Sunak had tried to become leader in the summer after Johnson’s resignation but lost to Leeds Trath, who stepped down on Thursday.
A runoff between the two could be divisive for the ruling Conservative Party, especially since many of Johnson’s supporters have accused Sunak’s July resignation of triggering the collapse of his government. The Conservative Party, which has been in power for 12 years, is currently in turmoil following the resignations of Johnson and Truss.
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Johnson’s possible return to the top job has divided the Conservative Party, with many lawmakers appalled by the prospect of Johnson being prime minister for a second time. He resigned in July after a series of scandals.
The former prime minister is expected to appear in the next few weeks before the Commons Privileges Committee, which is investigating whether he misled Parliament about political parties, which could result in his suspension or expulsion as an MP.
Sunak announced on Sunday morning that he would play. He tweeted: “Britain is a great country, but we face a deep economic crisis. This is why I am qualified to be leader of the Conservative Party and your next prime minister. I want to fix our economy and unite us party and contribute to our country.”
Sunak will confront House of Commons leader Penny Mordout, who said on Sunday she regretted the so-called “mini-budget” that led to economic turmoil in the UK and Truss’ resignation.
“I’m very sorry about the small budget…I raised concerns even before I got into cabinet,” Mordant told the BBC in an interview with the BBC on Sunday, adding that “cabinet doesn’t know” about the budget details.
The last time the Conservative Party held a leadership contest – after the fall of Johnson’s government – Truss came first, Sunak second and Mordault third.
Graham Brady, the Conservative Party official in charge of the process, said any candidate would have to secure at least 100 nominations from the party’s MPs by 2pm local time on Monday.
Truss resigned on Thursday, just six weeks into her disastrous term that has plunged Britain into political and economic turmoil. Her successor will become the fifth prime minister to lead the country since Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016.
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The leader of the main opposition Labour Party, Keir Starmer, renewed his call for a general election on Sunday after claiming people were “fed up” with the consequences of decisions by the Conservative leadership and his government.
“There is a choice. We need a general election! Let the public decide… Are they going to continue this total chaos or are they going to be stable under a Labour government?” Starmer asked in an interview with the BBC.