David Cameron bows out, telling MPs 'I was the future once'

Posted On: 
13th July 2016

David Cameron has bid farewell to six years in office with his final Prime Minister’s Questions, signing off by telling MPs “I was the future once”. 

David Cameron sits down after his final PMQs
Credit: 
PA

He left the chamber to return to No 10 before heading to Buckingham Palace, where he will officially notify the Queen of his resignation and pave the way for Theresa May to take the reins as Prime Minister.

The Wednesday lunchtime session was understandably subdued, with the odd barb from opposition MPs punctuated by glowing tributes from Conservative colleagues.

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Embattled Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn asked questions about homelessness, housing and zero hours contracts, while also saluting Mr Cameron’s achievements on equal marriage and ensuring the return of Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer.

The session finished with party grandee Ken Clarke urging Mr Cameron to stay on in Parliament as the UK goes through a tumultuous period following the vote to leave the European Union last month.

After thanking his former frontbench colleague, Mr Cameron began an emotional farewell speech to his parliamentary colleagues.

"I will miss the roar of the crowd, I will miss the barbs from the opposition," he told the House.

"But I will be willing you on. And when I say willing you on, I don’t just mean willing on the new prime minister at this despatch box or willing on the front bench defending the manifesto I helped put together.

“I mean willing all of you on. Because people come here with huge passion for the issues they care about, with great love for the constituencies they represent.

"And also willing on this place, because here we can be pretty tough and test and challenge our leaders, perhaps more than other countries, but that is something we should be proud of and should keep at it. And I hope you will all keep at it, and I will you on as you do.

“The last thing I’d say is that you can achieve a lot of things in politics, you can get a lot of things done. 

"And in the end, public service, the national interest, that is what it's all about...nothing is really impossible if you put your mind to it - after all, as I once said, I was the future once."

The final line was a reference to his first ever PMQs, when he told then-prime minister Tony Blair "you were the future once". 

But unlike Mr Blair, the last Prime Minister to leave office mid-term, Mr Cameron’s valedictory speech was not greeted with a standing ovation from the opposition benches.

While Liberal Democrats and a handful Labour MPs rose to salute the departing leader, most sat stony-faced.