Boris Johnson in his farewell speech as Britain’s Prime Minister referred to himself as a booster rocket’ whose function has been fulfilled, to lament that rules were changed halfway through and called on a fractious Conservative Party to get behind his successor, Liz Truss.
This is it folks, said Johnson, on the steps of Downing Street before leaving for Balmoral Castle in Scotland to meet Queen Elizabeth 2 to formally resign as the head of government.
The 58-year-old, who had announced his resignation in early July in the wake of pressure from within his Cabinet after a series of controversies including the partygate scandal of Covid lockdown law-breaking parties within government quarters, used the occasion to describe himself as a “booster rocket” and lamented the way he was forcibly pushed out of 10 Downing Street by Tory colleagues changing “rules halfway”.
“In only a couple of hours I will be in Balmoral to see Her Majesty the Queen and the torch will finally be passed to a new Conservative leader, the baton will be handed over in what has unexpectedly turned out to be a relay race, they changed the rules halfway through but never mind that now,” he said.
Johnson’s audience with the 96-year-old monarch will be followed soon after by foreign secretary Truss, who beat former chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Conservative Party leadership election, meeting the Queen to be formally asked to form a new government.
“This is a tough time for families up and down the country. We can and we will get through it and we will come out stronger on the other side but I say to my fellow Conservatives, it is time for politics to be over folks, it is time for us all to get behind Liz Truss and her team and her programme and deliver for the people of this country because that is what the people of this country want, that is what they need and that is what they deserve,” said Johnson.
With an oblique reference to his future plans, he added On the subject of bouncing around and future careers, let me say that I am now like one of those booster rockets that has fulfilled its function and I will now be gently reentering the atmosphere and splashing down invisibly in some remote and obscure corner of the Pacific.
“Like Cincinnatus, I am returning to my plow, and I will be offering this government nothing but my fervent support,” he said, referring to a Roman statesman who according to legend devoted himself to the republic during times of crisis.
He listed his administration’s achievements, highlighting the Brexit agreement with the European Union (EU), the COVID vaccine rollout and the response to the war in Ukraine.
Blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for the spiralling energy costs in the country, he expressed confidence that Truss and her government “will do everything they can to get through this crisis”.
He expressed confidence in his “compassionate” successor Truss and said her government would get people through the current energy crisis. Johnson also hailed his government’s record on the economy, claiming that the number of people out of work was now lower than at any time since he was “about 10 years old and bouncing around on a space hopper”.
He then left Downing Street accompanied by wife Carrie Johnson in a cavalcade to be flown out to Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
(With inputs from PTI)
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