Boris Johnson’s final speech as Prime Minister was similar to many of his previous public outings: he loudly praised what he considers his achievements, made no mention of his failures or scandals, and showed a flash of bitterness towards those who eventually put him down. .
“This is it, folks,” Johnson began, before embarking on a well-rehearsed list of domestic policies he likes to label as successes.
But Johnson was also eager to define himself as a statesman and was quick to quote his response to the Ukraine crisis early in the speech, suggesting that the UK’s arms supply “may well have helped change the course.” of the greatest European war in 80 years.”
Closing out his speech, he added one of his administration’s triumphs: “Speaking with clarity and authority, from Ukraine to the Aukus Pact with America and Australia, because we are one whole and whole United Kingdom, whose diplomatic security services and armed forces so admired worldwide.”
That emphasis could point to future career plans outside the UK – or it could just be a tacit admission that he is leaving his office at home amid an economic crisis mired in his country and millions of households struggling to make ends meet.
Johnson declined the opportunity to apologize for Partygate, the scandal over a series of lockdown-era gatherings in Downing Street that served as the first and biggest domino in its downfall. Nor did he acknowledge the decline in public confidence in his government, or the constant accusations from left and right that he has eroded public norms.
But he did suggest that even after a summer reflecting on the collapse of his leadership, he retains some bitterness about how he was forced to leave.
His joke about the leadership contest turning into a “relay race” after colleagues “changed the rules” came well before there was talk of his successor, Liz Truss. And he reminded the public of his sweeping election victory less than three years ago, leading many pundits to predict a new political dynasty with Johnson at the helm.
“I am proud to have kept the promises I made to my party when you were kind enough to vote for me, with the largest majority since 1987 and the largest share of the vote since 1979,” Johnson said.
But British politics is notoriously brutal; his colleagues rushed to impeach Johnson this summer after months of scandal and falling polls extinguished the glimmer of that electoral success. And now, after being cheered on from Downing Street, Johnson travels to Scotland to formally submit his resignation to the Queen and begin his private life.