Speaking at a hotel in central London, Johnson said the agenda for the next prime minister was for the UK to become a more outward-looking nation that resets its relationship with Europe.
In ruling himself out, the former London mayor said: “Having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me.”
“My role will be to give every possible support to the next Conservative administration to make sure that we properly fulfil 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.”
He went on: “And, if we do so, if we invest in our children and improve their life chances, if we continue to fuel the engines of social mobility, if we build on the great reforming legacy of David Cameron, if we invest in our infrastructure and we follow a sensible, one-nation Conservative approach that is simultaneously tax-cutting and pro-enterprise, then I believe that this country can win and be better and more wonderful and, yes, greater than ever before.”
The final showdown is now likely to be between the home secretary, Theresa May, and Gove, who said in a statement on Thursday morning that Johnson “cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead”.
“This is not a time to quail, it is not a crisis, nor should we see it as an excuse for wobbling or self-doubt,” Johnson said of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, before he announced he was not planning to stand for the leadership.
“This is our chance to unite our party and our country and our society. It is vital now in the Conservative party that we bring together everyone who campaigned so hard for the remain and leave sides.”
This article was written by Jessica Elgot, for theguardian.com on Thursday 30th June 2016 12.15 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010