Boris Johnson hints political career may not be over as he leaves Downing Street

Outgoing British prime minister expresses no regrets about his downfall in farewell statement

Boris Johnson has left Downing Street with a swipe at the MPs who toppled him and a hint that his political career may not be over.

Speaking outside No 10 where staff and supporters were gathered, he suggested he was leaving office because of an irregular rule change by Conservative MPs.

“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.

Mr Johnson expressed no regret over his own role in his downfall but used his farewell statement to list what he claimed as his achievements in office.


‘I’m proud to have discharged the promises I made to my party when you were kind enough to choose me, winning the biggest majority since 1987, the biggest share of the vote since 1979. Delivering Brexit, delivering our manifesto commitments, including, by the way ... social care, reforming social care, helping people up and down the country, ensuring that Britain is once again standing tall in the world,” he said.

“As I leave, I believe our union is so strong that those who want to break it up, they’ll keep trying, but they will never, ever succeed.”

Calling on Conservatives to put their disagreements behind them, he expressed confidence that his successor Liz Truss would do everything possible to help people get through the cost of living crisis.

“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 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,” he said.

Mr Johnson said he was now like a booster rocket that had fulfilled its function and would now be “gently re-entering the atmosphere and splashing down invisibly in some remote and obscure corner of the Pacific”.

He also compared himself to a Roman statesman and military leader from the 5th century BC. “Like Cincinnatus, I am returning to my plough. And I will be offering this government nothing but the most fervent support,” he said.

After 15 days as dictator in 458BEC, Cincinnatus left Rome to return to his farm, winning a reputation for civic virtue and modesty. But he left his plough again a few years later to help suppress a coup attempt and took power a second time.

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton

Denis Staunton is China Correspondent of The Irish Times