British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced on Saturday that he would not run for the leadership of the Conservative Party.
Wallace’s profile was boosted by his performance during Russia’s war in Ukraine, and he was a favorite among Conservative party members.
“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,” he said on Twitter.
Wallace said it “has not been an easy choice to make,” but his priority now is his current work and to “keep this great country safe.”
Up to 15 candidates could run in the race to become the next Conservative Party leader, and in turn prime minister, to replace Boris Johnson.
Those who have declared so far are: former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee Tom Tugendhat, Attorney General Suella Braverman, and former Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch.
Other figures expected to enter the race include Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, former Health Secretary Sajid Javid, current Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, and former Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt.
Sunak is considered by many to be the favorite. He declared his candidacy on Friday with a slick social media video with the slogan “Ready for Rishi.”
His opponents in the Conservative Party blame him for a series of tax rises that they consider un-Conservative, and which are deeply unpopular with many Conservative Party members.
Sunak, however, sought to turn that into a positive – as evidence of his prudent fiscal conservatism.
In his video, Sunak said: “Do we confront this moment with honesty, seriousness and determination, or do we tell ourselves comforting fairytales that might make us feel better in the moment but will make our children worse off tomorrow?”