Former French prime minister Alain Juppe has said he will not be a replacement for Francois Fillon if the embattled conservative candidate decides to withdraw from the presidential race.
Despite voices in his Republicans party calling for him to step in, Mr Juppe said in Bordeaux that “it’s too late” for him.
Mr Fillon, a former prime minister and once the front-runner in France’s two-round April-May presidential election, said last week he was summoned to appear before judges on March 15 for allegedly using taxpayers’ money to pay family members, including his British wife, for jobs that may not have existed.
Mr Fillon’s image has been dented since the scandal broke and polls are now suggesting that far-right leader Marine Le Pen and centrist independent candidate Emmanuel Macron will come out on top in the first-round vote on April 23.
The top two vote-getters go on to compete in the May 7 presidential run-off.
Mr Juppe was the runner-up behind Mr Fillon in the party’s primary.
A poll released on Sunday suggested Mr Juppe would have a better chance at reaching the run-off than Mr Fillon.