Westminster left reeling by Boris Johnson leadership shock
As Johnson bowed out of the Tory leadership race, key allies turned on Michael Gove.
Boris Johnson has sparked chaos in Westminster by spectacularly pulling out of the contest to be the next Conservative leader and prime minister.
In a speech in London today billed as his campaign launch for the leadership, the former mayor instead said he would not stand to succeed David Cameron.
He said: "I must tell you, my friends, you have waited faithfully for the punchline of this speech, that 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 I believe in.”
The news clearly took some of Johnson's parliamentary backers by surprise, as this footage of Tory MPs Nadine Dorries and Nadhim Zahawi illustrates.
Johnson's announcement came after a tumultuous morning in which his fellow Brexiteer Michael Gove shocked Westminster by announcing his own candidacy.
As Johnson pulled out of the race, seasoned lobby hacks were left stunned.
Meanwhile, a key ally of Johnson tweeted furiously that there was a "very deep pit in Hell" reserved for Gove. And others went further in private...
Picture by: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Press Association Images