Boris Johnson has departed No 10 vowing the government will bail out struggling families from rising energy bills in his final speech, as well as sending a final broadside about his resignation as prime minister.
He said the “baton will be handed over”, adding that his premiership had “unexpectedly turned out to be a relay race – they changed the rules halfway through”.
Johnson said it was a “tough time for the economy, a tough time for families up and down the country. We can and we will get through it and we will come out stronger.”
In a message to Conservative MPs, Johnson said it was “time for politics to be over” and said it was time to back Liz Truss and deliver for the country. “That is what the people of this country want, that’s what they need and that’s what they deserve.”
The outgoing prime minister said the UK would “continue to have the strength to give people the cash they need to get through this energy crisis that has been caused by Putin’s vicious war”.
He said the Conservative government would “do everything we can to get people through this crisis and this country will endure it and we will win”.
Johnson added: “If Putin thinks that he can succeed by blackmailing or bullying the British people then he is utterly deluded.”
Johnson will fly to Balmoral to tender his formal resignation to the Queen at about 11.20am. Truss will be received by the Queen after Johnson’s visit – about half an hour later – and officially asked to form a government, the point at which she becomes prime minister.
Truss is then expected to fly directly back to London and will speak outside Downing Street at about 4pm – although she may be forced to speak from inside the building due to forecast thunderstorms.
A large crowd of MPs and staffers watched Johnson’s departure, including the outgoing culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, Johnson loyalist Jacob Rees-Mogg and MPs from the 2019 intake, as well as Johnson’s sister Rachel.
Johnson said he would remain loyal and supportive to Truss after his departure. “Let me say that I am now like one of those booster rockets that has fulfilled its function and I will now be gently re-entering the atmosphere and splashing down invisibly in some remote and obscure corner of the Pacific.
He said he would be offering the new government nothing but “the most fervent support”. But in a reference to the Roman statesman Cincinnatus, he said he was “returning to my plough” – although Johnson was likely to know the remark would raise eyebrows. Cincinnatus returned to Rome when called upon to be appointed temporary dictator and Johnson has used the reference before as London mayor.
Johnson thanked staff and civil servants and departed with another warning to his party, referring to his own dog and the No 10 cat. “If Dilyn and Larry can put behind them their occasional difficulties, then so can the Conservative party,” he said.
“Above all thanks to you, the British people, to the voters for giving me the chance to serve all of you who worked so tirelessly together to beat Covid to put us where we are today.
Source: The Guardian