London: Five contenders emerged on Thursday in the race to become the next Prime Minister of Britain following David Cameron's decision to quit.
But there was shock when former London mayor Boris Johnson, a potential favourite to win the key to 10 Downing Street, announced he would not be a contender.
When a noon deadline for names to be put forward arrived, five leading politicians were in the ring.
Home Secretary Theresa May emerged as a favourite to become the next leader of the Conservative Party.
Cameron resigned hours after it was announced that the Brexit side had won the national referendum to determine Britain's future membership of the EU.
'Remain' supporter May was joined in the race by Justice Secretary Michael Gove, one of the key leaders in the 'Leave' campaign.
Stephen Crabb, who became the first Conservative to declare he would stand, is included in the slate, along with Dr Liam Fox and Andrea Leadsom.
Leadsom, a leading 'Leave' supporter, was in Cameron's cabinet as Energy Secretary. Crabb, the Work and Pensions Secretary in the cabinet, has put himself forward as a "blue collar" candidate, citing his upbringing in a modest council house. Fox, a former defence secretary, was also a supporter of Brexit.
An election process will now be carried out, with thousands of Conservative Party members across the country voting for their choice among the five.
The winner is expected to be unveiled at the party conference in early October. Cameron is remaining in office until his successor is officially chosen.
Bosses at London's Heathrow Airport will have breathed a sigh of relief at the decision by former London Mayor Boris Johnson not to stand in the leadership race. He had been a fierce opponent of a third runway at Heathrow, once famously saying he would "lie in front of the bulldozers to stop it".
Leading Brexit campaigner Johnson, who made the unexpected -- and dramatic -- announcement that he would not contend for Tory leadership, told media in London that the next Conservative leader would have to unify his party and ensure that Britain stood tall in the world.
"Having consulted colleagues and in view of the circumstances in Parliament, I have concluded that person cannot be me," he said.
Earlier, Justice Secretary Gove shocked the political circuit with his intention to become the Prime Minister.
The former education secretary said that he does not believe Boris ohnson can "provide the leadership" for the task ahead to get a fair deal for Britain in talks with European Union.
The journalist-turned-politician had repeatedly said he had no leadership ambitions.
"I respect and admire all the candidates running for the leadership. In particular, 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," Gove said in a statement.
"But I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead. I have, therefore, decided to put my name forward for the leadership."
"I want there to be an open and positive debate about the path the country will now take. Whatever the verdict of that debate, I will respect it. In the next few days I will lay out my plan for the United Kingdom which I hope can provide unity and change."