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Boris Johnson bids farewell before meeting the Queen to resign

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By Kit Gillet  with AP
Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks outside Downing Street in London, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022.
Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks outside Downing Street in London, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth   -  

Boris Johnson bid farewell to 10 Downing Street this morning as he made his way to Balmoral Castle in Scotland to meet with the Queen and formally offer his resignation. 

Liz Truss, who was chosen as the new leader of the ruling Conservative Party on Monday, will take over as prime minister later today.

Standing outside Downing Street, Johnson said his government had got Brexit done and delivered the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe, and that his policies had given the United Kingdom the economic strength to help weather the energy crisis. He added that his "compassionate" successor will help to get people through this winter.

Johnson also claimed that his administration had delivered safer streets, more police, new hospitals and more nurses, as well as three new high-speed rail lines. 

"We are delivering on those huge manifesto commitments," he said.

Plagued by scandal

The former mayor of London, Johnson, 58, became British prime minister three years ago, after his predecessor, Theresa May, failed to deliver on Britain’s departure from the European Union. Johnson would go on to win an 80-seat parliamentary majority in 2019, with his promise to “get Brexit done”.

However, despite having a strong mandate and securing a controversial Brexit deal, Johnson would be forced out of office less than three years later, following a series of scandals that culminated in the resignation of dozens of Cabinet secretaries and lower-level officials in early July.

In his farewell remarks, Johnson tried to highlight some of his administration's successes, including his administration's early supplies of weapons to Ukrainian armed forces, which “may very well have helped change the course of the biggest European war for 80 years”. 

He also took aim at President Vladimir Putin, saying that Russia can't blackmail or bully the British people over the energy crisis.

After a bruising campaign to replace him as party leader, Johnson also said it was time for fellow Conservatives “to get behind Liz Truss and her programme and deliver for the people of this country because that is what the people of this country want, that’s what they need and that’s what they deserve”.

Tough times ahead

Truss inherits an unenviable list of challenges, as the country grapples with cost of living and energy crises, not to mention the war in Ukraine and tensions over the Northern Ireland protocol. She is expected to start naming her cabinet later today.

Regarding his own future, Johnson added his usual flair for the dramatics, saying in his farewell remarks that: “I am like one of those booster rockets that has fulfilled its function. I will now be gently re-entering the atmosphere and splashing down invisibly in some remote and obscure corner of the Pacific.’’

However, many are sceptical that Johnson is truly ready to step away from the limelight for good.