Theresa May in pole position to beat Johnson
Theresa May, Britain's home secretary, has overtaken Boris Johnson in the race to become the next prime minister, according to polling. Nominations open today.
A surge in support for Mrs May has seen her leap ahead of Mr Johnson, the bookies' favourite to win the contest to replace David Cameron, research for 'The Times' found.
She is favoured by 31pc of Conservative voters against 24pc for Mr Johnson, according to the YouGov poll.
Chancellor George Osborne has ruled himself out. He told 'The Times': "It isn't in my nature to do things by half-measure and I fought the referendum campaign with everything I've got. I believed in this cause and fought hard for it."
"So it is clear that while I completely accept the result, I am not the person to provide the unity that my party needs," he said.
Work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb and business secretary Sajid Javid are reportedly considering standing on a joint ticket.
Johnson is this week expected to announce his intention to "end free movement" of EU migrants and ensure that Britain has "fair and balanced" border controls.
The former mayor of London, who is expected to declare his intention to stand for the Conservative leadership tomorrow, will say that Britain needs to "take back control" of its borders.
The statement followed claims that Mr Johnson would put free trade with the EU above a crackdown on immigration after he said that Britain will "still have access to the single market".
However a source close to Mr Johnson said: "He would end free movement [of EU migrants], what we need is to take back control.
"We need a fair and balanced immigration policy to meet the needs of our economy. Numbers are currently too high."
Other contenders who are considering throwing their hats into the ring include education secretary Nicky Morgan and former frontbencher Liam Fox.
Despite once saying that the health secretary brief was his "last big job in politics", Jeremy Hunt is also reported to be among those considering a shot at the leadership.
Prominent Brexit campaigners Andrea Leadsom, minister for energy and climate change, and work and pensions minister Priti Patel are expected to stand.
Nominations will close tomorrow, with a new prime minister and Conservative leader to be in place by September 2 at the latest.
Unlike Mr Johnson, justice secretary Michael Gove (48) has gone out of his way in the past to put a limit on his personal ambitions, even going so far as to suggest that he was not equipped to be prime minister.