Ben Wallace rules himself out of UK leadership contest

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said he will not stand to be the U.K.’s next prime minister, as the race to replace Boris Johnson gets underway in earnest this weekend.

Pollsters had tipped Wallace as an early favorite among Conservative Party members because of his handling of the Ukraine crisis. But the 52-year-old Johnson loyalist, who ran Johnson’s leadership campaign in 2019, announced on Saturday that he would not put himself forward to replace his boss.

“After careful consideration and discussing with colleagues and family, I have taken the decision not to enter the contest for leadership of the Conservative Party,” Wallace tweeted on Saturday. He said it “has not been an easy choice to make,” but his priority for now was his work in keeping the country safe.

Johnson resigned on Thursday after a series of scandals rocked his premiership, but said he would stay on until a replacement is voted in by Tory party members in a process that will play out this summer.

Earlier on Saturday, Kemi Badenoch, who quit on Wednesday as equalities minister, threw her hat into the ring, while Steve Baker, a hardline Brexiteer, backed Attorney General Suella Braverman. Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak launched his campaign on Friday and is broadly considered to be a strong contender. Other potential runners and riders such as Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt and Liz Truss are yet to formally declare their bids.