Boris Johnson has announced he will not seek the Tory leadership, after weeks of speculation that the former London mayor was hoping to become the next Prime Minister.
"Having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in parliament I have concluded that [the next Conservative leader] cannot be me," he said in a speech at Westminster.
"My role will be to give every possible support to the next Conservative administration.”
Johnson quit the Conservative leadership race this morning, following a surprising announcement by his colleague, and fellow leader of the Leave campaign, Michael Gove earlier this morning. In his statement, Gove attacked Johnson, saying: "I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead."
The move comes after the leak of an email from Gove’s wife, journalist Sarah Vine, in which she urged the justice secretary to seek “specific assurances from Boris”, warning him “otherwise you cannot guarantee your support”.
She also said: “Crucially the membership will not have the necessary reassurance to back Boris, neither will (Daily Mail editor Paul) Dacre/(Rupert) Murdoch, who instinctively dislike Boris but trust your ability enough to support a Boris/Gove ticket.”
Gove will be running against home secretary Theresa May, who launched her bid today, as did energy minister Andrea Leadsom.
Johnson's withdrawal from the contest has put May's odds of winning at 1/2, while Gove's odds have gone from 9/2 to 7/4.
The Conservative party is seeking a new leader, after Prime Minister David Cameron announced his intention to stand down this autumn following Britain's vote to leave the European Union.
In her announcement that she would seek leadership of her party, the home secretary – who backed a Remain vote in the EU referendum – said there will be no early General Election, and also stated that Article 50, which will allow the UK to leave the EU, will not be triggered until an exit strategy is clear. Bookies's odds indicate that Article 50 will not be triggered this year.
"Whether you supported Leave or Remain in the referendum campaign, and whether you predicted the sky would fall in or you didn't, the result means we face a period of uncertainty that needs to be addressed head-on," she said this morning.
"The country needs strong leadership and a clear sense of direction to give a confidence to investors, to keep the economy moving and to keep people in work."