- by theguardian
- 29 Mar 2023
Boris Johnson has withdrawn from the race to be Conservative leader, leaving Rishi Sunak within touching distance of becoming prime minister
After senior Tories warned a Johnson comeback would lead to chaos by the end of the week, the former prime minister admitted he did not have the backing of enough MPs to lead a united party.
Sunak, who came second in the race against Liz Truss over the summer, racked up nominations over the weekend, ranging from rightwingers such as Kemi Badenoch and Suella Braverman to more centrist figures such as Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, and Grant Shapps, the home secretary.
A source on the Mordaunt campaign insisted her campaign was continuing and that she wanted to get on the ballot so party members could decide the result.
Sunak is expected to sweep up many more Tory MPs on Monday morning given he has the momentum, but Mordaunt could win over any former Johnson supporters who want to stop him. The pair need to submit nominations by 2pm on Monday, and 150,000 Tory members will be asked to decide the result if they both get more than 100 nominations.
Johnson had gained the support of seven cabinet ministers, including James Cleverly and Nadhim Zahawi, but despite gaining some traction on Friday and cutting short his Caribbean holiday, he only added eight new public backers over the weekend.
Doubts over his confidence were also fuelled after he sought deals with Sunak and Mordaunt, urging them to pull out.
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