Boris Johnson, a leading proponent for Britain to withdraw from the European Union, announced on Thursday that he would not seek to replace David Cameron as the next prime minister.
“Having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in Parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me,” Johnson said at a press conference in London, where he was expected to announce he was officially running.
“My role will be to give every possible support to the next Conservative administration to make sure that we properly fulfill 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.”
The former mayor of London was widely viewed as a favorite to win the position.
Just hours before the announcement on Thursday, one of Johnson’s closest allies, Michael Gove, announced he was launching his own bid to succeed Cameron.
The surprising decision is the latest fallout in the wake of Britain’s unprecedented vote to exit from the European Union last week—the most notable being Cameron’s announcement that he would step down from office this fall.
On Wednesday, Britain’s Labour Party passed a motion of no confidence for leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has been criticized for running a lackluster campaign that ultimately failed to rally voters to remain in the European Union. The 67-year-old leader, however, is refusing to resign.