On Sunday, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the unexpected decision to withdraw from the election for the party’s leadership. This would allow front-runner Rishi Sunak to advance in the race to become the first prime minister of British Indian descent.
In the sake of maintaining the unity of the Tory party, the 55-year-old former leader claimed to have passed the 100-MP mark. Johnson, who resigned in July following the partygate incident involving COVID-19 lockdown law-breaking parties, claimed in a statement that he had ‘passed the extremely high threshold of 102 nominations,’ but had decided that ‘now is simply not the appropriate moment’.
‘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. I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time. And though I have reached out to both Rishi and Penny because I hoped that we could come together in the national interest we have sadly not been able to work out a way of doing this’, he added.
Johnson received the public support of about 59 Tory MPs, including several prominent cabinet members, even though he had not yet formally declared his candidacy. Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor of the British Indian community, now leads the nominations among Tory MPs with around 144 supports. Penny Mordaunt follows with about 23 publicly proclaimed supporters. It is unclear how that support will be split between the two candidates.
Around 59 Tory MPs, including several prominent cabinet members, publicly supported Johnson, who had not yet formally declared his candidacy. By Monday’s deadline of 2 PM local time, there is now a high probability that there will be a two-person shortlist. Sunak, the front-runner and likely winner, will likely be named the Tory leader and prime minister by Monday evening if the party MPs unify behind him. However, if there are two candidates, the Tory membership will get an online vote and the successor to Liz Truss will be declared on Friday.