Boris Johnson Pulls Out of Race to Become UK Prime Minister

Alexander Zhang
By Alexander Zhang
October 23, 2022UK
Boris Johnson Pulls Out of Race to Become UK Prime Minister
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a farewell address before his official resignation at Downing Street on Sept. 6, 2022 in London, England. (Justin Tallis - Pool/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has dramatically pulled out of the race to become Conservative Party leader, leaving former Chancellor Rishi Sunak in a dominant position to win the contest and become prime minister.

The former prime minister had raced home from a holiday in the Caribbean to try and secure the backing of 100 Tory MPs to enter the ballot to replace Liz Truss, who was forced to resign on Oct. 20, just six weeks after replacing Johnson in 10 Downing Street.

But in a statement issued on Sunday evening, Johnson said he was pulling out, despite having secured enough nominations, because he would not be able to unite the party even if he won the contest.

‘Not the Right Time’

Johnson wrote that he had been “attracted” to the idea of becoming prime minister again because he led the Tories into a “massive election victory” in 2019 and would therefore be “uniquely placed” to resist opposition calls for an immediate general election, which Labour is widely expected to win by a landslide.

Johnson said he had secured 102 nominations, though only 57 Tory MPs have voiced their support for his bid publicly.

He said there was “a very good chance” that he would be successful in the election with Conservative Party members and could be back in Downing Street on Friday.

“But in the course of the last days I have sadly come to the conclusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do,” he said. “You can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament.”

Johnson said he had reached out to the other two contenders—Sunak and Penny Mordaunt—but failed to reach agreements on how they could “come together in the national interest.”

“Therefore I am afraid the best thing is that I do not allow my nomination to go forward and commit my support to whoever succeeds,” he wrote, adding: “I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time.”

Rishi Sunak poses on the red carpet
Rishi Sunak poses on the red carpet on arrival to attend the World premiere of the Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical, during the 2022 BFI London Film Festival, in London, on Oct. 5, 2022. (Daniel Leal/AFP via Getty Images)

Sunak Leads Contest

Johnson’s withdrawal leaves the election to replace Liz Truss as potentially a straight fight between Sunak, who has garnered 146 public declarations of support, and Mordaunt, who has so far got just 24.

It could all be over a little after 2 p.m. on Monday if Mordaunt fails to get enough nominations to go forward.

Her supporters will be hoping that the departure of Johnson will open up the contest, enabling her to make it onto the ballot paper.

If she does, MPs will hold an “indicative vote” to show who they support and there will then be an online poll of Tory activists to decide the contest, unless one or other of the candidates stands down.

PA Media and Reuters contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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