Former London mayor Boris Johnson has ruled himself out of the race to replace outgoing Prime Minister David Cameron, who resigned last Friday after the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Speaking in London on Thursday, Johnson, who campaigned to leave the European Union and was seen as the hot favourite to replace Cameron, said he would support the next Conservative leadership but not stand himself.

"I have concluded that person cannot be me," he said.

"My role will be to give every possible support to the next Conservative administration, make sure we properly fulfil the mandate of the people that was delivered at the referendum and to champion the agenda I believe in," Johnson said.

Fellow "Leave" campaigner Michael Gove was widely expected to back Johnson's campaign to become the next leader of the UK, but in a surprise move today announced his own intention to run for the leadership of the ruling Conservative party.

"I wanted to help build a team behind Boris Johnson so that a politician who argued for leaving the European Union could lead us to a better future," he said in a statement shortly before the deadline for submitting nominations passed.

"But I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead." 

 Theresa May backed the campaign to remain in the EU but has ruled out any attempt to remain in the bloc [Reuters]

Nominations closed at noon on Thursday and the new British prime minister is expected to be announced by September 2 after a ballot of party members.

Current Home Secretary Theresa May has also put herself forward to be the next prime minister.

In her statement, May, who campaigned to stay in the EU, said she was best placed to negotiate Britain's exit from the bloc.

"Brexit means Brexit. The campaign was fought, the vote was held, turnout was high, and the public gave their verdict," she wrote.

"There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the back door, and no second referendum.

"The country voted to leave the European Union, and it is the duty of the government and of parliament to make sure we do just that," she wrote.

Cameron on Brexit: Will of the people to be respected

Source: Al Jazeera