Boris Johnson gifted Churchill books by ministers who ousted him at final Cabinet meeting

Boris Johnson was applauded by his ministers and gifted a set of original Winston Churchill books worth around £750, after chairing his final Cabinet meeting as prime minister.

The outgoing PM, who will hand over the keys to Number 10 at the start of September, defended his record over three years to a room containing people who demanded his resignation.

Despite Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps all urging Mr Johnson to step down two weeks ago, they were part of the group which presented him with six expensive original books written by one of his heroes.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: "At the conclusion of Cabinet, the prime minister was presented with gifts to thank him for his service to the country, including first editions of Winston Churchill's books on the Second World War."

Estimated to be worth around £750, the books by Churchill were presented to the PM by his entire Cabinet. Credit: No10

Tributes to the PM were led by Nigel Adams, a minister without portfolio in the Cabinet Office, and the Cabinet meeting ended with those present clapping and banging the table.

A group photo - containing former leadership hopefuls Mr Shapps, Mr Zahawi, Attorney General Suella Bravermann and current contender Foreign Secretary Liz Truss - was taken and signed by the ministers.

Images indicate it was a jovial Cabinet meeting for Mr Johnson's last one, with concerns about his leadership from within government apparently put behind them while leadership hopefuls battle it out to take his place.

Rishi Sunak, previously a familiar fixture of Mr Johnson's Cabinet meetings, was not present for the final one after resigning as chancellor and seeking to become the next prime minister.

He and trade minister Penny Mordaunt are favourites to reach the final stage of the Tory leadership race, which will begin after the field of candidates is reduced to two on Thursday.

The final two competitors will campaign over summer before Tory members vote for their favourite and the winner is announced on September 5.

Mr Johnson's replacement will take office the following day on September 6.

The photo of Boris Johnson's final Cabinet contained several people who wanted to replace him. Credit: No10

The prime minister appeared to take a swipe at policies being suggested by those fighting to succeed him.

He defended his decision to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 to tackle climate change - the target has been criticised by some of his potential successors because of the economic risk.

The leadership rivals - Mr Sunak, Ms Mordaunt, Ms Truss and Kemi Badenoch - have also clashed over how to address the cost-of-living crisis, but Mr Johnson said the "fundamental strength" of the economy had already allowed his administration to offer help to the most vulnerable.

All four remaining candidates have expressed concern about the net zero goal, although only Kemi Badenoch has suggested the 2050 date might be allowed to slip.

She has said "I do believe in climate change, but we have to do it in a way that is sustainable", while Ms Mordaunt believes measures to hit the target "mustn't clobber people".

Ms Truss, who was sat opposite the prime minister at the Cabinet meeting, has said the goal should be delivered in a way that "doesn't harm people and businesses" and has promised to shift green levies from energy bills.

Speaking as Westminster baked in a heatwave, Mr Johnson said: "With temperatures setting records in this country, who can doubt that we were right to be the first major economy to go for net zero?

"And I know it may be sometimes unfashionable to say this now, but it is the right thing to do.

"If we're going to protect our planet and if we're going to do the right thing to tackle global warming, it's essential that we set that lead."

He added: "On another scorching, sweltering day I think it's very, very important that we think back to that moment that we opened up (after the lockdown) and try and balance risk with the need to keep our country, our society and our economy moving.

"I hope, Cabinet, that you are all agreed that as far as possible we should keep schools open and keep our transport system going as far as we possibly can."