RISHI Sunak is on course to be named Prime Minister TODAY after his main rival Boris Johnson dramatically dropped out of the Tory leadership race last night.
Le former Prime Minster insisted he had the numbers to go to a vote of the Conservative membership.
But he threw in the towel as MPs broke for Mr Sunak at a rate of more than two to one.
Now the ex-Chancellor is set for a coronation at 2pm UNLESS his other rival Penny Mordaunt manages to drastically improve her supporter base.
Wannabe PMs must have the backing of at least 100 Tory MPs to make the first leadership ballot.
So far Mr Sunak has 157 while Ms Mordaunt is stuck on 25.
Big BoJo supporter Nadhim Zahawi defected to team Rishi within minutes of the ex-PM dropping out.
Après peace talks between the rival Sunak and Johnson camps flopped, Mr Sunak was tearing ahead.
Seulement 60 had publicly declared for Boris — with the ex-PM losing the backing of Brexiteer big hitters including Lord David Frost and Suella Braverman.
With supporters of Mr Sunak openly vowing to bring down a new Boris government, pals were urging Mr Johnson not to push the contest to a vote of the membership for fear of chaos if he wins.
Defiant to the end, he insisted he could have won, en disant: “There is a very good chance that I would be successful in the election with Conservative Party members — and that I could indeed be back in Downing Street on Friday.”
But a Johnson victory risked a constitutional crisis with him winning the backing of the party faithful to be crowned leader — but left being unable to form a government with MPs who wanted him gone.
The shock announcement that he will not officially run came after a scramble to get nominations.
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At the same time his closest friends and allies were urging him to bow out of the race.
But in a final hint he could still yet come back, Boris declared: “I believe I am well placed to deliver a Conservative victory in 2024.”
Responding to his rival bowing out, Mr Sunak said: “Boris Johnson delivered Brexit and the great vaccine roll-out. He led our country through some of the toughest challenges we have ever faced, and then took on Putin and his barbaric war in Ukraine. We will always be grateful to him for that.
“Although he has decided not to run for PM again, I truly hope he continues to contribute to public life at home and abroad.”