His statement (via Harry Cole on Twitter) –
“In the last few days I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who suggested that I should once again contest the Conservative Party leadership, both among the public and among friends in Parliament.
I have been attracted because I led our party into a massive election victory less than three years ago – and I believe I am therefore uniquely placed to avert a general election now.
A general election would be a further disastrous distraction just when the Government must focus on the economic pressures faced by families across the country.
I believe I am well placed to deliver a Conservative victory in 2024 and tonight i can confirm that I have cleared the very high hurdle of 102 nominations, including a proposer and a seconder, and I could put my nomination in tomorrow.
There is a very good chance that I woukd be successful in the election with Conservative Party memebrs and that i could indeed be back in Downing Street on Friday.
But in the course of the last days I have sadly come to the conlcusion that this would simply not be the right thing to do. You can’t govern effectively unless you have a united party in parliament.
And though I have reached out to both Rishi and Penny – because I hoped that we could come together in the national interest – we have sadly not been able to work out a way of doing this.
Therefore I am afraid the best thing is that I do not allow my nomination to go forward and commit my support to whoever succeeds.
I believe I have much to offer but I am afraid that this is simply not the right time.”