, LONDON, United Kingdom, Jul 1 – Britain’s ruling Conservative Party was left reeling on Friday, after the shock withdrawal of favourite Boris Johnson from the race to become prime minister in the wake of the vote to leave the EU.
Interior Minister Theresa May is now leading five candidates vying to replace Prime Minister David Cameron, who announced his resignation after losing the referendum on Britain’s membership of the 28-nation alliance.
- After an 11-minute speech trumpeting his achievements and outlining his vision for Britain, Johnson left the punchline for the end.
- "Having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in parliament, I've concluded that person cannot be me," he told shocked supporters.
- Observers were left stunned by the dizzying events in the corridors of power, where opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is clinging on to his job despite a mass revolt by his party's MPs.
May urged voters to stay in the European Union before the poll, but promised to respect their verdict if she took office. She has said she would not trigger the exit process until next year.
EU leaders have called for a swift divorce following last week’s seismic vote, fearful of the impact of Britain’s uncertain future on economic growth and the potential domino effect in eurosceptic member states.
Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s cut the EU’s credit rating by one notch on Thursday to AA, its third-highest level, saying it now considered “cohesion within the EU” was a “neutral rather than positive rating factor”.
A spokesman for the International Monetary Fund said the uncertainty sparked by the British vote was “probably the biggest risk to the global economy”.
The surprise decision by Johnson, long considered a favourite to succeed Cameron, to rule himself out has upended the Conservative leadership contest.
The former London mayor made his announcement after fellow Brexit campaigner Michael Gove effectively torpedoed his chances by announcing his own surprise bid for the top job.
A number of senior Conservatives subsequently lined up behind May, including the transport and defence ministers.
The mass-selling Daily Mail newspaper endorsed her candidacy on Friday with a front-page headline saying: “A party in flames and why it must be Theresa”.