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Boris Johnson is NOT running for Conservative party leader

Not too many people saw this coming.

boris new Boris Johnson Source: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Press Association Images

BORIS JOHNSON HAS said he won’t run to become the new British Prime Minister.

He made the shock announcement just before the noon deadline for Conservative party leader nominations.

Johnson was seen as one of the frontrunners for the position. He was one of the most vocal Leave campaigners in the Brexit referendum.

Speaking during a live press conference at St Ermin’s Hotel in London, he said: “Last week, the people of this country voted to take a new path and a new direction for Britain, in a decision that I passionately support.

“It is vital now to see this moment for what it is … It is a moment for hope and ambition for Britain. A time not to fight against the tide of history, but to take that tide at the flood and sail on to fortune.”

Johnson added that he is not the right person to lead the Tories.

Having consulted colleagues, and in view of the circumstances in parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me.

David Cameron announced his resignation after the UK voted to leave the EU last week.

Justice secretary and Leave campaigner Michael Gove announced his intention to run this morning. He had been expected to back Johnson’s bid.

Gove said he was standing because he had come “to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead”.

In the next few days I will lay out my plan for the United Kingdom which I hope can provide unity and change.

Earlier this week, a leaked email from Gove’s wife Sarah to her husband warned him about the risks of backing Johnson.

Meanwhile, interior minister Theresa May vowed to unite Britain as she launched her bid to succeed David Cameron as Conservative Party leader in a letter to The Times today.

may Theresa May Source: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Like Cameron, May supported remaining in the bloc but played a low-key and conciliatory role in the campaign that has seen her tipped as a unifying figure.

She wrote:

Following last week’s referendum, our country needs strong, proven leadership to steer us through this period of economic and political uncertainty, and to negotiate the best possible terms as we leave the European Union.

She said her leadership would launch a “radical programme of social reform” that would “make Britain a country that works for everyone”.

In a swipe at Johnson, former mayor of London, May wrote that a leader was needed who understood hardship.

“Some need to be told that what the government does isn’t a game, it’s a serious business that has real consequences for people’s lives,” May wrote.

Cameron promoted the 59-year-old vicar’s daughter to Home Secretary following his 2010 election victory and she kept the role after his 2015 re-election.

Known as a hardliner on immigration, May’s stern demeanour has drawn comparisons with 1980s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Boris Johnson 

Bookmakers had Johnson as a slight favourite over May and The Sun newspaper reported yesterday that he had already secured the backing of 100 of the 330 Tory MPs who will whittle down the field to two nominees. He was expected to officially announce his bid this morning.

The ConservativeHome blog surveyed more than 1,300 members and found the slimmest of leads for May, mirroring the results of a YouGov poll published on Tuesday.

BORIS A woman walks past a banner put up by protesters opposite the home of Boris Johnson in north London, Source: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Pro-EU finance minister George Osborne, long seen as a possible Cameron successor, has ruled himself out.

Critics had questioned whether the Leave camp — and Johnson in particular — had any idea how to manage the unprecedented situation left by last week’s vote.

boris2 Boris Johnson Source: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/Press Association Images

“He has still to offer anything like a concrete plan on how he would negotiate the post-Brexit future,” former BBC political editor Nick Robinson wrote.

Cameron’s successor is expected to take office in early September and will face the prospect of assuming negotiations with the EU on Britain’s relationship with the bloc and a decision on whether to call an early election.

First to throw his hat into the ring for Cameron’s job was work and pensions minister Stephen Crabb, a virtual unknown to the British public, whose campaign is expected to stress his working class credentials in a party often seen as elitist.

The 43-year-old urged the Conservatives to “get past this Boris/stop Boris dichotomy”, in reference to the divisive Johnson.

Andrea Leadsom, MP for South Northamptonshire, and Liam Fox, MP for North Somerset, have also thrown their names into the ring.

The new Conservative leader, who will be chosen by a postal ballot of party members currently numbering around 150,000, is expected to be announced on 9 September.

He or she will also become prime minister, but may call an early general election.

- Contains reporting from © AFP 2016 

Read: Obama raises concerns about global growth in the wake of Brexit vote

Read: These two are set to go head-to-head over the future of the UK

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Órla Ryan

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