This is surprising. The BBC reports:
Ex-London mayor Boris Johnson has ruled himself out of the race to be the next Conservative leader and prime minister. In a speech in London – billed as his campaign launch – Mr Johnson said he did not believe he could provide the leadership or unity needed.
It comes after Justice Secretary and fellow Brexit campaigner Michael Gove’s surprise announcement on Thursday morning that he would run for leader. Home Secretary Theresa May is among the candidates. Nominations closed at noon.
Also in the running are Energy minister Andrea Leadsom and former Defence Secretary Liam Fox – who campaigned to leave the EU – and Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb, who backed Remain.
The contest was sparked after David Cameron announced he would resign following the EU referendum result, which saw the UK vote by 52% to 48% to leave the EU.
Mr Johnson’s unexpected – and dramatic – announcement that he would not stand for Tory leader or prime minister, positions he is long thought to have harboured ambitions for, has dramatically altered the race.
Did News Corp magnate Rupert Murdoch pull the strings? From the Mirror:
A Tory MP has just been forced to deny Rupert Murdoch was behind today’s shock pulling out by Boris Johnson. It comes after Michael Gove’s wife sent a leaked e-mail yesterday warning the newspaper mogul “instinctively dislikes Boris”.
She claimed he and Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre would be more likely to back a Boris candidacy if he was backed up by Mr Gove. Mr Gove then declared he was standing this morning – followed promptly by Boris pulling out.
Tory former International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell was asked if Rupert Murdoch was responsible by BBC News. He replied: “In spite of views to the contrary I do not think Rupert Murdoch owns the Conservative Party or runs our country.