'This is it folks': Boris Johnson delivers farewell speech as PM but hints at comeback

The outgoing PM compared himself to a former Roman leader who returned to rule once more. Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has told the country "this is it folks" in his final speech as prime minister - but hinted at a comeback to frontline politics.

The outgoing PM described the transferring of power to his successor Liz Truss as "handing over the baton" as he lamented his premiership had "unexpectedly turned out to be a relay race".

In what appeared to be a swipe at the many who resigned from his government and ultimately triggered his downfall, he suggested he was forced out of power after "they changed the rules halfway through - but never mind that now".

But he said it was now "time for politics to be over" and joked that if his dog Dilyn and No.10's chief mouser Larry the cat can “put behind them their occasional difficulties” - then so can the Tory party.

"I say to my fellow Conservatives, it's time for politics to be over, folks," he said, speaking outside No 10 on Tuesday morning as prepared for his handover to Ms Truss.

“It’s 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. That’s what they need."

Hinting that he could make a return to No 10, the outgoing PM compared himself to Cincinnatus, a Roman leader who battled against invasion before returning to his farm.

According to historians, Cincinnatus returned to rule Rome once more.

Boris Johnson, wife Carrie and their children drove off to cheers after the speech. Credit: PA

Mr Johnson said: “On the subject of bouncing around in future careers, let me say that I am now like one of those booster rockets that has fulfilled its function.

“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 and I will be offering this government nothing but the most fervent support.”

Mr Johnson said he would be supporting Ms Truss' new government "every step of the way" during a "tough time" for households across the country, as she prepares to take over and delivery a plan to address the escalating energy crisis.

Ms Truss, who will travel to Balmoral to accept the role of prime minister from the Queen later on Tuesday, is reportedly drawing up plans for a freeze in bills which could cost around £100 billion.

“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," Mr Johnson said.

“And if Putin thinks that he can succeed by blackmailing or bullying the British people, then he is utterly deluded.”

Describing his pride at having won the "biggest majority since 1987", Mr Johnson reeled off what he has considered the greatest hits of his premiership including Brexit, the vaccine rollout and support for Ukraine.

Wife Carrie Johnson, Nadine Dorries and Rachel Johnson applauded the outgoing PM as he delivered his speech. Credit: PA

He said: “Through that lacquered black door, a new prime minister will shortly go to meet a fantastic group of public servants.

“The people who got Brexit done. The people who delivered the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe, and never forget 70% of the entire population got a dose within six months – faster than any comparable country. That is government for you. That’s this Conservative government.”

His wife Carrie Johnson, sister Rachel Johnson and fervent Tory supporters such as Nadine Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg, who had packed into Downing Street to watch his farewell speech, broke into cheers as he finished.

Mr Johnson held his wife's hand and shook hands with officials as he left the street to energetic applause and got in the car to head off to Balmoral to meet the Queen.

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There, he will tender his resignation to the monarch and make way for Ms Truss to be sworn in as prime minister and invited to form a government.

Ms Truss beat rival Rishi Sunak to succeed Mr Johnson as Tory leader on Monday and will address the nation from Downing Street later today marking her first speech as prime minister.

She will begin putting in place her team of ministers, with key allies and supporters already pencilled in for some of the most senior roles, including Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng who is widely expected to be given the crucial role of chancellor.

Ms Truss's first major policy priority will be delivering a package of support for households struggling with energy bills - which are set to soar even higher from October when the price cap lifts prices by at least 80%.