Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson dropped out of the race to become Britain’s next leader on Sunday, claiming he had enough legislative backing to go to the next round but considerably fewer than front-runner former finance minister Rishi Sunak.
“There is a very good prospect that I would be successful with Conservative Party members in the election – and that I could indeed be back in Downing Street on Friday,” Johnson said in a statement.
“But, unhappily, I’ve come to the decision that this is simply not the correct thing to do in the last few days. You cannot govern effectively until your party is united in parliament.”
Johnson, who never formally launched his candidacy to return to Downing Street, has spent the weekend attempting to persuade Conservative legislators to back him, and he claimed 102 of them on Sunday.
He needed 100 votes by Monday to go to the next stage, which would have pitted him against Sunak in a vote of the Conservative Party’s 170,000 members.
Sunak, whose resignation as finance minister in July aided Johnson’s demise, had cleared the threshold of 100 lawmakers needed to advance to the next level on Sunday, according to Sky News.
He will be named Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister on Monday unless nominee Penny Mordaunt receives 100 votes to force a run-off vote among party members. On Sunday, she had 24 avowed supporters.