Boris Johnson has announced that he will not run for leadership of the Conservative Party after leaving the country in disarray by leading the Brexit campaign and then cooling on the idea as soon as he won the referendum.

In a speech where he was widely expected to launch his leadership bid, Johnson said:

“That is the agenda for the next prime minister of this country.

“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.

“My role will be to give every possible support to the next Conservative administration to make sure that we properly fulfil the mandate of the people that was delivered at the referendum and to champion the agenda that I believe in, to stick up for the forgotten people of this country.

“And, if we do so, if we invest in our children and improve their life chances, if we continue to fuel the engines of social mobility, if we build on the great reforming legacy of David Cameron, if we invest in our infrastructure and we follow a sensible, one nation Conservative approach that is simultaneously tax-cutting and pro-enterprise, then I believe that this country can win and be better and more wonderful and, yes, greater than ever before.”

Johnson is believed to have pulled back on the idea of becoming Tory leader and the next prime minister after his column in the Telegraph caused a ‘wobble’ amongst the Brexit campaign, as it appeared he no longer wanted to leave the EU’s single market with free movement of people, despite having campaigned against it.

Johnson is paid £250,000 by the Telegraph for his column, and chose that avenue for announcing his plan for the UK after the Brexit vote rather than announcing it to the public.

Johnson pulling out of the leadership contest leaves it wide open for the other contenders, which currently include Stephen Crabb, Liam Fox, Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom, and Theresa May

The first ballot of MPs will be held on Tuesday.

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