UK defense minister rules himself out of leadership race

LONDON (AP) — A British cabinet minister who is emerging as one of the favorites in the Conservative Party leadership race dropped out of the race on Saturday.

Defense Minister Ben Wallace has said after “careful consideration” and discussion with colleagues and family, he will not be running to replace Boris Johnson as the country’s Conservative leader and next prime minister.

Wallace was seen by some as the favorite choice among Conservative Party members in what will be a major open debate. leadership career Following Johnson’s resignation announcement Thursday.

Johnson resigned as party leader after months of insisting he would remain in office despite mounting ethics scandals. He said that he would remain prime minister until the party chooses his successor.

Former foreign minister Rishi Sunak, the best-known of the leadership contenders and considered the bookies’ favorite to win, launched his bid on Friday. Sunak resigned on Tuesday, sparking a mass exodus of government officials that unseated Johnson.

Attorney General Suella Braverman, lawmaker Tom Tugendhat and former Equality Minister Kemi Badenoch have also joined the fray, with more announcements expected in the coming days.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Treasury chief Nadhim Zahawi and Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt are expected to run, as are former Health Secretaries Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt.

Wallace said his decision was “not an easy decision to make, but my focus is on my current job and keeping this great country safe.”

Conservative party officials on Monday are expected to set the timetable for a leadership contest, with the aim of having a winner by the end of the summer. The two-step process involves Conservative lawmakers voting to narrow the field of candidates to two, which will go to an all-party vote.

Johnson’s resignation marked the end of three tumultuous years that saw the divisive leader fending off numerous scandals and a challenge from conservative leadership. For months, he managed to cling to power despite accusations that he shielded his supporters from allegations of intimidation and corruption, and that he misled Parliament about parties at government offices breaching confinement rules by the COVID-19.

But his handling of allegations about a high-ranking politician who had been accused of sexual misconduct It turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for many Conservatives, who this week openly rebelled and forced him out of office.

Johnson remains in office to head an interim administration, but many Conservatives don’t want a lame leader, especially amid a worsening cost-of-living crisis triggered by rising food and energy prices.

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Follow all the AP stories on British politics at https://apnews.com/hub/boris-johnson.

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