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'This is it folks': Johnson calls himself a 'booster rocket' in final speech as PM

Sky News logo Sky News 06/09/2022

Boris Johnson has delivered his valedictory speech to the nation, describing himself as a "booster rocket that has fulfilled its function".

Boris and Carrie Johnson leave 10 Downing Street. Pic: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street © Other Boris and Carrie Johnson leave 10 Downing Street. Pic: Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

Speaking outside a packed Downing Street, the outgoing prime minister said: "This is it folks."

Mr Johnson vowed to "get behind Liz Truss every step of the way" and told the Conservative Party that "it is time to get behind" the new prime minister.

Truss and Johnson flying to see Queen - Politics Hub

He championed his administration's achievements, highlighting Brexit, the vaccine rollout and the response to the war in Ukraine.

He blamed President Putin for spiralling energy costs and said he knows Ms Truss and her government "will do everything they can to get through this crisis".

Carrie Johnson, in pink, watched on with allies as her husband delivered his speech © Reuters Carrie Johnson, in pink, watched on with allies as her husband delivered his speech

Hinting at what he plans to do next, Mr Johnson said: "On the subject of bouncing around in 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 re-entering the atmosphere and splashing down invisibly in some remote and obscure corner of the Pacific."

Referencing how he was ousted, Mr Johnson jibed that in this "relay race" of government they "changed the rules half way through".

But he said that if Dilyn, the Johnsons' dog, and Larry the No 10 cat "can put behind them their occasional difficulties, then so can the Conservative Party".

He went on to compare himself to Cincinnatus, a Roman statesman who resigned and returned to his farm.

Boris Johnson arrives at Balmoral for an audience with Queen © PA Boris Johnson arrives at Balmoral for an audience with Queen

"Like Cincinnatus, I am returning to my plough and I will be offering this government nothing but the most fervent support," Mr Johnson said.

According to tradition, Cincinnatus later returned to serve a second term.

'Completely deluded'

Speaking to Sky News after Mr Johnson left Downing Street for the final time, Angela Rayner, the Labour deputy leader, said it was a "classic Boris Johnson speech" that was "completely deluded about what's happened over the last couple of years and the crisis that people are facing".

She said there was no acknowledgement of "the scandal and sleaze that has engulfed his party and his government over the last couple of years".

Ms Rayner added: "Whether that was him supporting the scandal around Owen Paterson or supporting Chris Pincher with the situation with sexual harassment, whether it was the absolute billions of pounds that was wasted on money that was given to mates through the global pandemic.

"And, of course, the partying that happened when the UK public were told that they had to go into lockdown and had to follow the rules.

"I think it was completely deluded and it stunk of all the hallmarks of somebody who's had a privileged background, who thinks that they can just do what they like."

'Admired from Kyiv to Carlisle'

Mr Johnson was forced to resign after a wave of ministers left his government over a series of controversies, culminating in the Chris Pincher scandal.

There has been speculation that he will be defiant and plot a Trump-style comeback from the backbenches.

After delivering his farewell speech, the outgoing prime minister flew to Balmoral in Scotland to formally tender his resignation to the Queen before Ms Truss's arrival.

Ms Truss was declared the winner of the Conservative leadership race on Monday and has now been confirmed as party leader and prime minister.

On Monday she praised "my friend" Mr Johnson in her victory speech.

"Boris, you got Brexit done, you crushed Jeremy Corbyn, you rolled out the vaccine and you stood up to Vladimir Putin. You are admired from Kyiv to Carlisle," she said.

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