Why Boris Johnson had to quit the leadership race

Watch ITV News political editor Robert Peston's analysis of Boris Johnson's decision

What is extraordinary is not that Boris Johnson pulled out of the Tory leadership contest tonight.

What’s extraordinary is that he believed he had a chance of returning to No10 so soon after being evicted by those mass ministerial resignations less than four months ago.

The point is that so many Tory MPs still believe he is both untrustworthy and shambolic, such that they could not contemplate serving in a government led by him.

Not only could he not unite his party, he would have struggled to find enough talented supporters to fill all ministerial jobs.

As one minister put it to me, “he hasn’t got the support even to make up the payroll [paid ministers]”.

And of course it remains moot whether he even had the 100 nominations required to enter the contest.

The point is that most Tory MPs have been burned by Johnson’s mantra after each self-administered debacle that next time it will be different.

Johnson 2.0 looked to them chillingly like high-risk, high-jinx Johnson classic.

They’d had enough. His 6 weeks on the backbenches was hardly biblical penance.

His hero Churchill was in the wilderness for a decade before redemption.

Everything moves faster today, but no one could argue that Johnson had served his time.