Boris Johnson Pledges People Will Have The "Cash They Need" To Beat Energy Crisis In Final Speech As PM
Boris Johnson has given his final speech outside Downing Street (Alamy)
Boris Johnson has made his final speech as prime minister from Downing Street before heading to Scotland to give his formal resignation to the Queen after Liz Truss was elected as the new Conservative leader.
"This is it, folks....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," Johnson told a large crowd of supporters assembled outside Number 10 for his farewell address.
Johnson, who was forced to resign in July shortly after having won a confidence vote in his leadership, alluded to what he seems to believe is a sense of betrayal by his party.
"The baton will be handed over in what is unexpectedly turned out to be a relay race," he continued.
"They changed the rules half way through, but never mind that now."
But Johnson also acknowledged the gargantuan task his successor Truss has ahead of her as she enters Downing Street in volatile economic conditions and under pressure to tackle the cost of living crisis.
He said the next government would put new support in place to help households pay spiralling energy bills following a surge in global gas prices as a result of Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
"We have and will continue to have that economic strength to give people the cash they need to get through this energy crisis that has been caused by Putin's vicious rule," he said.
"And I know that Liz Truss and this compassionate Conservative government will do everything we can to get people through this crisis, and this country will endure it, and we will win."
Johnson will travel to Balmoral later this morning to formally offer his resignation to the Queen ahead of Liz Truss' own visit.
He suggested his successor would continue to deliver the Conservative's 2019 manifesto, with which he won a historic majority, including further rail and road programmes and major energy programmes, including in wind and nuclear.
"We are delivering on those huge manifesto commitments. Making our streets safer, building more hospitals, and yes, we will have 50,000 more nurses by the end of this parliament and 40 new hospitals by the end of the decade," he said, before correcting himself and promising the hospitals by the end of this parliament. Johnson has already faced criticism for not having delivered on the hospital promise.
Truss, who has been under pressure to deliver fresh solutions to the energy crisis has already suggested she could scrap the green energy levy on bills, and has shown resistance to continuing the more pro-renewables agenda championed by Boris Johnson.
But the PM insisted the work on wind and nuclear energy would continue under the incoming government. "We are, of course, providing the short and long-term solutions for our energy needs, not just using more of our domestic hydrocarbons, but going up by 2030 to 50 gigawatts of wind power," he said.
"That is half of this country's energy needs from offshore wind alone. A new nuclear reactor every year."
Comparing himself to a "booster rocket", Johnson suggested he would initially take a backseat role in politics. But his characteristic use of a classical reference during the speech suggested a possible return after comparing himself to Roman leader Cincinnatus, who went back to his farm after saving Rome, before later returning following an uprising.
Johnson had previously made the historical comparison after his time as London Mayor when he was repeatedly asked whether he could return to the Commons.
"Let me say that I am now one of those booster rockets that has fulfilled its function and I will now be gently re-entering the atmosphere and splashing down in some remote and obscure corner of the Pacific," he said.
"And like Cincinnatus, I am returning to my plow. And I will be offering this government nothing but the most fervent support."
He added: "This is a tough time for the economy, 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 strong on the other side."
Johnson also called for his party to unite behind Truss after months of infighting during the leadership contest. His call for "politics to be over" comes after Truss secured just 57 per cent of the membership vote – a smaller margin than expected.
Tory MPs have already urged Truss to "come down hard" on blue-on-blue attacks as they warned further division could undermine their ability to tackle the energy crisis.
"But I say to my fellow Conservatives, it is time for politics to be over, folks," Johnson said.
"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, what they need, and what they deserve."
While resignation speeches by other recent prime ministers have tended to strike a more sombre tone before a tense walk down the famous street to their car, Johnson ended his upbeat address by shaking hands with friends and walking through the sea of supporters as he made his exit.
The Prime Minister resigned in July after 60 Conservative ministers stepped down following a storm over his handling of misconduct claims against Tory MP Chris Pincher.
His tenure in Downing Street was marred with a number of scandals, including the Partygate gatherings in Number 10, and his handling of the Owen Paterson lobbying incident.
His decision to step down sparked a months long leadership campaign which saw a final round between Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former chancellor Rishi Sunak.
On Monday, it was announced that Truss had won the vote of Conservative members, securing 81,326 votes compared to Sunak's 60,399.
Speaking in her acceptance speech on Monday, Truss paid tribute to Johnson for his election victory in 2019 and his support for Ukraine following Russia's invasion of the country.
"I also want to thank our outgoing leader, my friend, Boris Johnson," she said.
"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."
In a tweet after her victory, Johnson congratulated her for her "decisive win" as he encouraged the party to rally behind her.
"Congratulations to Liz Truss on her decisive win. I know she has the right plan to tackle the cost of living crisis, unite our party and continue the great work of uniting and levelling up our country," he wrote.
"Now is the time for all Conservatives to get behind her 100 per cent."
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