'Not the Right Time': Boris Johnson Withdraws From UK PM Race, Sunak in the Lead

Rishi Sunak is the clear favourite to become the next British prime minister, as early as Monday.

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Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Sunday, 23 October, that he will not run in the leadership contest of the Conservative Party, clearing the path for Rishi Sunak to become the next prime minister of the country.

Johnson was ousted from office amid the 'Partygate' scandal in July, and was replaced by Liz Truss - who also resigned from office last week due to unprotected tax-cuts that fueled the economic turmoil in the United Kingdom further.

Following Truss', resignation, Johnson had returned from his vacation in the Caribbean to launch his leadership bid, and gain support from fellow lawmakers.

He said that he had secured the backing of over 100 lawmakers and could have been "back in Downing Street", but that he had failed to persuade either Sunak or Penny Mordaunt to come together "in the national interest", Reuters reported.

"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," Johnson said in a statement late on Sunday.

"I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time," he added.

His withdrawal from the contest could see 42-year-old Sunak, who also has the backing of around 140 lawmakers, become the next PM of Britain as early as Monday.

'Will Always Be Grateful': Sunak Praises Johnson

Meanwhile, Sunak was all praise for Johnson after the latter released his statement.

Taking to social media, the Indian-origin MP said, "Boris Johnson delivered Brexit and the great vaccine roll-out. He led our country through some of the toughest challenges we have ever faced, and then took on Putin and his barbaric war in Ukraine. We will always be grateful to him for that."

"Although he has decided not to run for PM again, I truly hope he continues to contribute to public life at home and abroad," he added.


Announcing his leadership bid last week, Sunak had said, "The United Kingdom is a great country but we face a profound economic crisis. The choice our party makes now will decide whether the next generation of British people will have more opportunities than the last."

"That's why I am standing to be your next prime minister and Leader of the Conservative Party. I want to fix our economy, unite our party, and deliver for our country," he added.

(With inputs from Reuters.)

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Topics:  Britain   Boris Johnson   Rishi Sunak 

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