A week after the United Kingdom rocked the world by voting to leave the European Union, another unexpected exit is rocking British politics. MP Boris Johnson, who was one of the most prominent supporters of the Leave campaign, announced on Thursday that he will not seek the office of Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister.
Shortly before the filing deadline at noon, Johnson held a speech that was widely believed to be his launch speech. Instead, it was the withdrawal speech for a campaign he never officially joined. Johnson said, “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.”
MP Michael Gove and Home Secretary Theresa May are both running for party leader. Gove backed Leave and was a Johnson ally while May campaigned for Remain. Gove originally supported Johnson for the position, but withdrew his support and told BBC, “I came in the last few days, reluctantly and firmly, to the conclusion that while Boris has great attributes he was not capable of uniting that team and leading the party and the country in the way that I would have hoped.”
May is seen as the early favorite in the Prime Minister race.
The race for Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister began after Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation following the Brexit vote. Cameron had been the lead proponent of the Remain campaign and he said that Great Britain needed a leader who could see them through the exit.