LONDON -- The Conservative Party's frontrunner for the leadership race was a British Cabinet minister who ruled himself out Saturday.
After careful consideration and discussion with his family and colleagues, Ben Wallace, Defense Minister, said he would not run to succeed Boris Johnson as Conservative leader of the country and next prime minister.
Some saw Wallace as the preferred choice of Conservative party members following Johnson's resignation.
Johnson resigned as party leader after insisting for months that he would remain in the job, despite growing ethics scandals. Johnson said that he would remain as prime minister until the party selects his successor.
Rishi Sunak, former chancellor and widely regarded as the favorite of bookmakers to win the presidency, announced his candidacy on Friday. Sunak quit on Tuesday, sparking a massive exodus from government officials that overthrew Johnson.
Attorney General Suella Braverman and Tom Tugendhat, former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, have also joined the fray. More announcements will be made in the coming days.
The Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Treasury chief Nadhim Zhawi, and Penny Mordaunt, trade minister, are widely expected to run. Former health secretaries Sajid Javid, and Jeremy Hunt are also expected to run.
Wallace stated that his decision was not an easy one. However, he said that he is focusing on his current job and keeping the country safe.
On Monday, Conservative party officials will announce the timeline for a leadership contest. The goal is to have a winner by the end the summer. Two-step process: Tory lawmakers vote to reduce the field to two candidates, and then they will be put to a ballot by all members of the party.
Johnson's resignation marks the end to three turbulent years in which the divisive leader had to defend against numerous scandals as well as a Conservative leadership challenge. He remained in power for months despite being accused of protecting his supporters from bullying and corruption and misleading Parliament about government offices that violated COVID-19 lockdown rules.
However, his handling of the allegations against a senior politician accused of sexual misconduct was the final straw for many Conservatives who openly revolted this week and forced him to resign.
Johnson will remain in office to lead a temporary administration. However, many Conservatives don’t want a lame duck leader -- especially given the worsening cost of living crisis caused by rising food and energy costs.
Follow all AP stories on British politics at https://apnews.com/hub/boris-johnson.