In a dramatic U-turn ahead of the Conservative Party leadership election, Boris Johnson has withdrawn from the race, saying he has come to realize he does not have enough numbers to unite the parliamentary Conservative Party.

Mr Johnson suggested he had won at least 102 MPs, more than the number he needed to reach the necessary mark to enter the contest.

However, in a statement, Mr Johnson said: “Over the last few days I have unfortunately come to the conclusion that this would simply be wrong. Without a single party in the parliament, it is impossible to govern effectively.”

Continuing, Mr Johnson said: “I believe I have something to offer, but I’m afraid it’s just not the right time.”

All eyes are now on how many of Mr Johnson’s supporters will shift their support to Penny Mordaunt, given their continued animosity towards Mr Sunak. A number of Mr. Johnson’s supporters blame Mr. Sunac for setting in motion the events that led to Mr. Johnson’s resignation in July.

With Mr Johnson out of the running, it is possible that a number of Conservative MPs who have yet to commit to a particular candidate will now feel more comfortable supporting Ms Mordaunt.

Ms Mardaunt, who was 33-1 in the betting markets before Mr Johnson’s announcement, has now dropped to 10-1 at some bookmakers.

However, it is not the case that all of Mr Johnson’s supporters will support Ms Mardaunt, ex-chancellor Nadhim Zahavi being an example. Mr. Zahavi has already shifted his allegiance from Mr. Johnson directly to Mr. Sunak.

If Ms Mardaunt does not reach the 100 MP mark by 2pm tomorrow, Rishi Sunak will be the only candidate with enough nominations to run for Conservative leader. He will take over as Prime Minister from Liz Truss next week.

Mr Sunak’s campaign will now seek to show that the former chancellor has the support of as many Tory MPs as possible, not least to demonstrate to the public that the Conservative Party has returned to a greater sense of unity.

Mr Johnson’s surprise decision to quit the race came after his supporters regularly claimed the former prime minister had the 100 MP numbers he needed.

At the time of withdrawal only 60 MPs had publicly endorsed Mr Johnson, although there were probably a number of other MPs who supported Mr Johnson but who were unable to do so publicly given their role in the Conservative Party Executive Committee offices in 1922. and the government whipping service.

It will likely never be known whether Mr Johnson actually supported more than 100 MPs. It remains possible that Mr. Johnson did not have the numbers he needed, and that it is now clear that he is not going to reach that point.

Boris Johnson pulls out – Attention now focusses on how many of his backers will turn to Penny Mordaunt