Boris Johnson has announced he will not be standing in the Conservative Party leadership contest, a move that has surprised many Westminster commentators.
There former London Mayor announced his decision this morning after Justice Secretary Michael Gove, widely seen as his running mate, decided to abandon him at the last minute and run for party leader himself.
“I have concluded that person cannot be me” says Boris Johnson ruling himself out of Conservative election race https://t.co/S2p4nNxJst
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) June 30, 2016
The shock decisions follow repeated criticism of Boris Johnson from ‘Leave’ supporters who raised concerns that he would renege on a pledge to end the EU’s free movement policy, and would not trigger Article 50 soon enough.
Breitbart London’s Editor-in-Chief Raheem Kassam warned about these defects on Tuesday, writing:
He’s flip-flopped so much during the referendum campaign I genuinely started to wonder if he was about to perform a last minute, Sarah Wollaston-esque defection.
He’s wobbly on immigration and free movement (he wants an amnesty for illegal immigrants!) He’s used the last few days to raise serious concerns over his position on Article 50 and potential “associate membership” of the European Union, and his horrific service as London Mayor makes one wonder if the man has a conservative bone in his body. There’s just no conviction about the man.
Now Michael Gove is a different prospect. But he’s not running for leader. He’s just going to be Boris’s “credible” name for his campaign. And that’s a boon for Boris.
But it’s not enough to make me believe that a Boris government would definitely invoke Article 50, and wouldn’t be battered about by media pressure, trades unions, and the left-wing of the Conservative Party…
Following this, YouGov published a poll showing Boris trailing among party members for the leadership. The poll gave him just 27 per cent support against 36 per cent for Theresa May.
Conservative Party leader preference:
T. May: 36%
B. Johnson: 27%
A. Leadsom: 7%
S. Crabb: 7%
L. Fox: 4%
(via YouGov / Con members surveyed)
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) June 29, 2016
Boris’s withdrawal means there are five official candidates for Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister: Stephen Crabb, Liam Fox, Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May.