To a final round of applause from his recently rebellious MPs, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson bowed out during his final speech in Parliament on Wednesday, ending his speech with “Hasta la vista, baby!”
With a vintage set of verbal speeches against his critics, Johnson defended his three turbulent years in office — from Brexit and Covid vaccines to Ukraine — and praised the candidates fighting for his seat as he fended off opposition attacks at his latest Prime Minister’s Questions meeting. .
The House of Commons goes into summer recess on Thursday, with a new leader to be announced when it meets again on September 5.
Labor leader Keir Starmer cited bitter attacks on each other and his government’s reputation by the three remaining Conservative candidates: Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt.
Johnson’s Downing Street operation is reportedly campaigning “anyone but Rishi” accusing the former finance minister of masterminding the cabinet uprising that brought him down this month after many scandals, including “Partygate”.
“I don’t follow this case very closely,” the prime minister said of the Tory race, to a laugh.
But he praised Sunak’s economic management during the pandemic and said that any of the three, “like some house cleaner, will mop the floor” with Labor.
Johnson reiterated his long-standing characterization of Starmer as “the hindsight captain” of Covid and called him “the great mindless human jerk”.
The conservative race resulted in several candidates being eliminated from the ballot among party deputies.
The last two candidates were due to be chosen later on Wednesday and then turned to the rank and file Tories in August.
But Johnson gave the challengers some advice, urging them to “stay close to the Americans, stand up for the Ukrainians, stand up for freedom and democracy everywhere.”
“Reduce taxes and deregulate where possible to make this a better place to live and invest… focus on the road ahead, but always remember to look in your rearview mirror.
“And remember, it’s not Twitter that matters in the first place, it’s the people who sent us here.”
Johnson, 58, said his tenure was the “greatest privilege” of his life.
“I helped get the biggest Tory majority in 40 years and a huge realignment in British politics,” he added.
“We have transformed our democracy and restored our national independence… I helped this country survive the pandemic and helped save another country from barbarism – and honestly, that’s enough.
“Mission basically accomplished.”