Alain Juppé, the French politician widely tipped to replace conservative candidate François Fillon, has plunged the centre-right into further chaos after he ruled out standing as a candidate in the scandal-hit election race.
Mr Juppé addressed speculation that he hoped to run for the presidency in a statement on Monday morning in which he said he had no intention of running for office.
“France needs a renewal, but I will not incarnate that renewal,” he said at a press conference, adding: “It is too late.”
“I repeat, it is too late for me, but it is not too late for France. The country is going through a crisis of confidence but there is also the potential for it to make a comeback.”