Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged Conservatives to get behind his successor Liz Truss during a “tough time”, in his farewell speech.

Mr Johnson has met the Queen at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where he tendered his resignation as PM.

Ms Truss has been formally appointed by the British monarch, before making her first speech as prime minister.

The UK’s third female prime minister will announce her cabinet later.

Her victory in the Tory leadership contest on Monday marked the end of Mr Johnson’s turbulent premiership, less than three years after the Conservatives won a landslide in the 2019 general election.

In the face of a mounting economic crisis, Mr Johnson’s successor has promised immediate action to deal with soaring energy prices, as well as tax cuts aimed at staving off a recession.

Her plan, due on Thursday, is expected to include a freeze on energy bills worth billions of pounds, but the details of that policy are yet to be announced.

Simon Clarke, who backed Ms Truss for the leadership and is tipped to become levelling up secretary, told the BBC he was anticipating “a major intervention” on energy bills.

He said energy “will be the government’s most immediate priority upon entering office” and insisted the commitments Ms Truss made during the campaign on tax “still absolutely stand”.

In his speech, Mr Johnson alluded to the ominous challenges Ms Truss will inherit when she takes office, acknowledging that this was “a tough time for the economy”.

“This is a tough time for families up and down the country,” Mr Johnson said in front of No 10 Downing Street. “We can and we will get through it and we will come out stronger the other side.”

In a pointed plea to his Conservative colleagues following a fractious party leadership race, Mr Johnson said “it’s time for politics to be over, folks”.

“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,” he said.

Paying tribute to his colleagues in government, Mr Johnson said they were the people who “got Brexit done”, delivered “the fastest vaccine rollout in Europe”, and “organised those prompt supply of weapons to Ukraine”.

Reflecting on the future of his career, Mr Johnson compared himself to “one of those booster rockets” that “has fulfilled its function”.

“I’ll be gently re-entering the atmosphere and splashing down invisibly in some remote and obscure corner of the Pacific,” he said.

He then likened himself to Cincinnatus, a Roman statesman and military leader who battled against an invasion before returning to his farm.

Some classics scholars pointed out Cincinnatus came out of retirement for a second term as leader of Rome.

Mr Johnson has not said publicly said what he will do after leaving office but there is speculation that he will remain as an MP for his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.

His former adviser Will Walden told the BBC’s World At One he did not believe Mr Johnson would return to frontline politics.

“That is for two reasons – I don’t think the Tory Party is used to going back in time… but more than anything, he needs to earn some money and he needs to move on,” he said.

Mr Walden suggested Mr Johnson was dropping hints he could return because he wanted to “rewrite the narrative… suggesting he still has a role to play and has been hard done by is part of that narrative”.

As Mr Johnson and his wife Carrie head to Balmoral, there’s time to unpick some of the words he chose to use to mark his departure.

There was an extensive assembly of what he saw as his greatest hits: the coronavirus vaccine programme, Brexit and support for Ukraine among them.

And then there were those references to the future: one wrapped in the imagery of space exploration; the other in classicist comparison.

Will Mr Johnson really “splash down invisibly in a remote corner of the Pacific”?

Err… no. Every syllable Mr Johnson utters, out loud or in print, will magnetically allure the cameras, microphones and reporters; it has been his greatest skill throughout his career: commanding attention.

In short, Mr Johnson is leaving office but won’t leave the stage. We’ll hear from him again.

Credit: BBC

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