LONDON ( Associated Press) – Britain’s defense minister withdrew from the race on Saturday to succeed Boris Johnson’s resignation as party leader and prime minister, despite being considered one of the favourites. Ben Wallace said he made the decision “after careful thought” and discussing the matter with colleagues and family.
Wallace was considered a favorite by Conservative Party members, in what appears to be a race without a clear favorite.
Wallace said making the decision “wasn’t easy, but I have to focus on my current job and keep this great country safe.”
Johnson announced his resignation on Thursday, despite insisting for months that he would remain in office amid a mounting wave of scandals. He said he would remain head of government until the party chooses his successor.
Former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, the best-known of the candidates for the job and a favorite of bookmakers, launched his candidacy on Friday. A day earlier, Sunak resigned from office and caused a mass exodus of government officials, prompting Johnson to resign.
Attorney General Suella Braverman, lawmaker Tom Tugendhat and former equality minister Kemi Badenoch also ran for the post.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Treasury Chief Nadhim Zahawi and Commerce Minister Penny Mordaunt are expected to announce their candidacies, as are former Health Secretaries Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt.
Conservative Party leaders are expected to announce the contest calendar on Monday so there is a winner by mid-September. First, Conservative lawmakers in successive rounds will narrow the race to two candidates and the final choice will be made by all party affiliates.