After giving a speech in which he touted his accomplishments as mayor of London, responded to criticisms of the “Leave” vote, and outlined the problems facing the next British prime minister, Boris Johnson announced that he would not be running for the position.
“That is the agenda for the next prime minister of this country,” Johnson said at the end of his speech. “Well, I must tell you, my friends, you who have waited faithfully for the punchline of this speech, that having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me.”
“My role will be to give every possible support to the next Conservative administration to make sure that we properly fulfil the mandate of the people that was delivered at the referendum and to champion the agenda that I believe in, to stick up for the forgotten people of this country.”
The announcement came as something of a shock, as Johnson was widely seen as the (hypothetical) frontrunner. He deferred after his longtime ally, Michael Gove, announced his own bid on Thursday morning: “I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.” As recently as Wednesday, the New York Times reports, Gove was thought to have made a deal supporting Johnson.
This at a moment when there's a prospect of returned border controls & Sinn Fein are calling for a United Ireland vote. Via @shockproofbeats— Naomi O'Leary ⚡️ (@NaomiOhReally) June 30, 2016
A slew of candidates have joined the race, though Gove, the justice secretary, and Theresa May, the home secretary, are seen as the leading contenders. May supported the “Remain” faction, but according to the Times was not a particularly vocal supporter.