George Osborne will not be the next prime minister of the United Kingdom, he has confirmed this morning.
The chancellor, long seen as the natural successor to David Cameron, has decided not to run in the upcoming leadership election to take over from the prime minister, who announced his resignation hours after the UK voted to leave the European Union.
Writing in The Times this morning, Osborne said:
"I will not be a candidate in the Conservative leadership election to come.
"It isn't in my nature to do things by half-measure, and I fought the referendum campaign with everything I've got. I believed in this cause and fought hard for it. So it is clear that while I completely accept the result, I am not the person to provide the unity my party needs at this time."
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Given Osborne's high-profile role in the campaign, Thursday's result all but killed his chances of taking over once Cameron steps down. However, his failure to make a public statement in response to the result until yesterday and his refusal to address the issue in his high-profile speech yesterday morning fuelled speculation he could be mulling a leadership bid.
Yesterday, the powerful 1922 committee of backbench Conservative MPs agreed the timeline for finding David Cameron's successor. It decided the next prime minister should be known by 2 September - just nine weeks away. Nominations for the role will open tomorrow lunchtime and close on Thursday evening. Candidates will then go forward to a vote among MPs before the two frontrunners are put to a ballot of party members.
A poll for The Times released this morning showed Theresa May is emerging as the most popular "stop Boris" candidate. The home secretary, who has also been noticeably absent from TV screens since the referendum result, won the support of 31 per cent of Tory voters, compared to 24 per cent who backed Boris Johnson.
Jeremy Hunt also put himself in the frame this morning, calling for a second referendum on the UK's relationship with the EU or a fresh general election before "setting the clock ticking" on formal negotiations. He told Good Morning Britain he is "strongly considering" making a run for the top job.
Business secretary Sajid Javid and work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb are also reported to be teaming up to make a run for the top job on a joint ticket, while Michael Gove is thought to be a member of team Johnson.