In Shocking Move, Boris Johnson Says He Won't Run For UK Prime Minister, Tory Leader

In the latest stunning development out of UK politics, moments ago during a press conference in which Boris Johnson -the man who led the Leave campaign - was widely expected to announce he would run for UK premier and Conservative party leader, the former London mayor, who was considered a frontrunner for the post, announced he would not stand for premier or Tory leader.

During his press conference in London Johnson said that “having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in Parliament I have concluded this person cannot be me.” 

More details from the FT:

In the latest stunning development out of UK politics, moments ago during a press conference in which Boris Johnson was widely expected to announce he would run for UK premier and Conservative party leader, the former London mayor, who was considered a frontrunner for the post, announced he would not stand for premier or Tory leader.

 

Theresa May, UK home secretary, also launched her Tory leadership campaign on Thursday with a promise to negotiate “the best possible terms when we leave the EU”, as bookmakers installed her as the favourite to succeed David Cameron as prime minister.

 

The infighting between leading advocates of Britain’s exit from the EU has compounded a deep sense of political instability and absence of leadership at a moment when a deeply divided country is contemplating the realities of life outside the union against a backdrop of market turmoil and economic vulnerability.

 

Mr Gove and Mr Johnson were a powerful duo at the head of the campaign to take Britain out of the EU and it had been assumed that the two would join forces at the top of a Tory government whose overriding task is to complete the UK’s divorce from the EU on the best possible terms.

 

Mr Johnson said now was a “moment for hope and ambition” in the UK, adding: “This is our chance to unite our party around those values and at the same time to unite our country and our society.”

 

“It is vital now in the Conservative party that we bring together everybody that campaigned for both the Remain and Leave sides... Having consulted colleagues, and in view of the circumstances in parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me.”

BoJo's exit from the race likely means that the more centrist, Home Secretary Theresa May, who currently in the poll leads, will likely be the next Tory leader.  And while May has said she would not force a second referendum, the reaction in the sterling, which has spiked on the news, may suggest that BoJo's relent hints that UK's fate is not dead set.

Other Tory leadership candidates include Liam Fox, former defence secretary, and Andrea Leadsom, energy minister and another leading figure from the Leave camp, as well as Stephen Crabb and Andrea Leadsom.

Commons leader Chris Grayling, who is backing Theresa May as Conservative leader, says the contest now features a "number of skilled, effective performers". He says the Conservatives "are no longer Leavers, we are no longer Remainers", instead the government will carry through the will of the British people. Mr Grayling says he is sure Boris Johnson will have a big role in the future.

Pressed on his team's commitment to reduce immigration, Mr Grayling says: "We will be working absolutely resolutely to bring it down." Asked if that's to the tens of thousands promised in the Conservative election manifesto, he says: "That's always been the will of this government."

BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith says people are still "flabbergasted" by Boris Johnson's decision not to take part in the Conservative party leadership campaign. "The likelihood, but not the inevitably, it could come down to Theresa May and Michael Gove," he says.