Boris Johnson will not stand for Conservative leader, he has announced.
In a surprise announcement, the former Mayor of London said he would “support” the next Tory leader but that it would “not be me”.
Mr Johnson gathered the media for a speech at a central London location for what was expected to be his campaign launch.
However, after giving a speech outlining his view that the next Prime Minister should champion the "forgotten" people in Britain, he ruled himself out for the top job.
“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," he said.
“My role will be to give every possible support to the next Conservative administration to make sure that we properly fulfill the mandate of the people that was delivered at the referendum, and to champion the agenda I believe in – to stick up for the forgotten people in this country.”
Mr Johnson has long been the favourite to suceed David Cameron, who stepped down after being defeated in the European Union referendum.
However his campaign was dealt a fatal blow this morning after his former Vote Leave ally Michael Gove announced that he was standing as leader.
In his announcement speech Mr Gove said he did not believe Mr Johnson could be trusted to unite the Conservative party and lead the country.
Asked about Mr Gove's decision, Mr Johnson's father Stanley Johnson quoted Caesar's supposed last words after he was stabbed by his former friend Brutus.
"'Et tu Brute' is my comment on that," he told BBC Radio 4's The World at One. "I don't think he is called Brutus, but you never know."
Home Secretary Theresa May also took an apparent swipe at the former mayor this morning, writing: "Some need to be told that what the government does isn’t a game, it’s a serious business that has real consequences for people’s lives."
Mr Johnson's departure from the race leaves Ms May as the favourite to win the race. She launched her leadership campaign this morning.
The shock news comes after George Osborne, who was previously seen as the anointed successor to David Cameron, ruled himself out of the race following the EU referendum result.
Though Mr Johnson is popular amongst Conservative party activists, the party's internal electoral system allows MPs to pick which two candidates their members can vote between.
Other candidates to declare in the race so far include Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb, former defence secretary Liam Fox, and Andrea Leadsom. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said is "seriously considering" a run.
The leadership election was called after Mr Cameron announced his resignation in the aftermath of the EU referendum result.
The Prime Minister said it was right that a new Prime Minister should steer Britain's exit from the European Union and invoke article 50.
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