Former U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not stand in the leadership contest to replace outgoing leader Liz Truss.
CNBC reports that despite being ousted from office just three months ago, some Conservative MPs had backed Johnson for the top job, and he reportedly told allies over the last couple of days that he would formally join the contest.
But in a statement late on Sunday, Johnson said it was “simply not the right time.” He added he had “cleared the very high hurdle of 102 nominations” to take part in the latter stages of the contest. Around 60 lawmakers had publicly backed the ex-PM but there was some debate over how exactly how many nominations he had received.
Johnson mentioned his two rivals in his statement, Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt, who have both officially entered the contest.
“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,” Johnson said.
Former culture secretary and close Johnson ally Nadine Dorries tweeted Thursday that he was the only MP with “a mandate from party members and the British public,” having won the 2019 General Election.
Johnson previously enjoyed high levels of popularity until losing credibility in the final months of his premiership amid political scandal around Covid-19 rule-breaking and his links to disgraced MP Chris Pincher.
In his parting speech he alluded to a future return to office with the words: “Hasta la vista, baby” or “see you later.”
British Prime Minister Liz Truss resigned Thursday, bringing to a close a brief 44-day tenure mired by “mini-budget” chaos, economic turmoil and weeks of political infighting.