Boris Johnson criticised for ‘arrogant’ exit speech that contained zero apologies: ‘Good riddance’

Boris Johnson gives a final speech outside 10 Downing Street

Boris Johnson left 10 Downing Street for the final time with a blustering leaving speech, refusing to take responsibility right until the end.

Rather than acknowledging any of his many failures, Johnson began his final speech on Tuesday (6 September) as prime minister by stating that “the baton will be handed over in what unexpectedly turned out to be a relay race – they changed the rules halfway through”.

Speaking before he and Liz Truss flew to Balmoral – on separate planes – for a handover of power overseen by the Queen, Johnson spoke of his alleged successes as prime minister, sidestepping responsibility for his rule-breaking and the scandals that led to his downfall – including Partygate and his response to sexual assault allegations against MP Chris Pincher.

He claimed that the government will have added “50,000 nurses” before the end of parliament – despite his government, days before, announcing the reintroduction of a cap on medical student places.

He boasted about the UK’s COVID vaccine roll-out, neglecting to mention the fact that he has been criticised for underfunding the vaccine roll-out for monkeypox, or that a key element in his downfall was his own lockdown-breaking parties.

On the cost of living crisis, he insisted that the “Conservative government will do everything we can to get people through this crisis”, despite Truss having produced no plans to do so.

In a bizarre description of his future after his premiership, Johnson said: “Let me say that I am now like one of those booster rockets that has fulfilled its function and I will now be gently re-entering the atmosphere and splashing down invisibly in some remote and obscure corner of the Pacific.

“Like Cincinnatus, I am returning to my plough.”

He finished by saying that if his dog Dylan and Downing Street cat Larry could “put behind them their occasional differences, then so can the Conservative party”.

Labour MP David Lammy tweeted: “Boris Johnson standing outside Downing Street listing imaginary achievements in a desperate attempt to claim a legacy is not going to fool anyone.

“He was exposed as a liar and a charlatan. Good riddance to the worst prime minister of the modern era.”

Speaking to Sky News, deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said: “It was a classic Boris Johnson speech, completely deluded about what’s happened over the last couple of years.”

She added that there was “the scandal and sleaze that has engulfed his party and his government”, and said that “it stunk of all the hallmarks of somebody who’s had a privileged background”.

MP Luke Pollard added on Twitter: “No apology for promoting and defending Chris Pincher. No apology for defending Owen Paterson and his lobbying scandal. No apology for his lies. No apology for the cost of living inaction. Just more bluster.

“Boris Johnson is a liar. I’m glad his time as PM ends today.”

On Monday (5 September), Liz Truss was announced as the new leader of the Conservative party, narrowly beating Rishi Sunak to become the UK’s next prime minister.