Boris' numbers bluster busted as Sunak paves path to premiership
The way now appears clear for vanquished Prime Ministerial aspirant Rishi Sunak to become the third British PM in a year, with former PM Boris Johnson dropping out of contention.
Under Conservative Party rules, 100 parliamentary supporters are needed for a candidate to run for the party leadership. Supporters of Boris Johnson had spruiked that the controversial ex-PM - absent from parliament holidaying in the Caribbean - had the numbers to take part. Whether those numbers ever existed or Johnson took the high moral road will be debated for some time, but on Sunday morning (Australian time) 'BoJo' declared he was out of contention.
The former British Treasury chief has at least 124 Conservative MPs backing his leadership tilt, whilst Penny Mourdant was also making the case for the position to be contested.
Johnson, aged 58, quit as PM in September and Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker told Sky News on Sunday a Johnson comeback would be a 'guaranteed disaster'.
Yet one Johnson backer said the former PM had put the nation and party first:
Leadership aspirant Penny Mourdant was pressing on with her pitch for power on social media on Sunday night (UK time):