Boris Johnson rules out Conservative leadership bid

Boris Johnson has said he will not be standing as Tory leader, in a move that has stunned Westminster.

Mr Johnson was the most prominent Leave campaigner during the EU referendum and was widely regarded as the favourite to succeed David Cameron as the Tory leader and prime minister.

In what was expected to be a speech to formally launch his leadership bid, he said: "Having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in parliament, I have concluded that person (to lead the party) cannot be me.

"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 I believe in: to stick up for the forgotten people of this country."

Mr Johnson's decision not to stand follows the surprise announcement by Michael Gove that he is putting himself forward, which came shortly before Theresa May's formal bid to become Tory leader.

His shock announcement sparked a mixture of amazement and fury by MPs on twitter.

The Conservative Party leadership candidates. Credit: PA

The Conservative Party has confirmed Theresa May, Michael Gove, Stephen Crabb, Liam Fox and Andrea Leadsom will contend the leadership of the party. Nominations closed at 12 noon on Thursday.

Earlier Jeremy Hunt and Nicky Morgan confirmed they will not be standing.