The departing U.K Prime Minister Boris Johnson bid farewell to lawmakers in his own style. On Wednesday, Boris Johnson concluded his final major speech by saying, “Hasta la vista, Baby!” to the House of Commons and received a standing ovation from the parliament as he departs. While giving his final speech to the U.K parliament in which Johnson left his final sessions of Prime Minister’s questions, he defended his three turbulent years in the office – from Brexit and covid-19 medicines to Ukraine and offered his parting words to the parliament. He reminded the house that he helped to win the Conservative Party its biggest majority for 40 years in the 2019 elections and had overseen a “huge realignment in U.K. politics” in regards to Brexit as well as overseeing Britain’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and support for Ukraine, saying that it was “mission largely accomplished- for now.”
Johnson also had some advice for his successor- with either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss whoever is elected as the next Prime Minister of the U.K. he said, “I want to use the last few seconds to give some words of advice to my successor, whoever he or she may be.”
Five wise pieces of advice for the next P.M
- Stay close to the Americans – Johnson’s first bit of advice was to maintain the U.K.’s cherished “special relationship” with the U.S., particularly as both countries look to support Ukraine, and Britain looks to cement a trade deal with the U.S.
- Sticking up for the Ukrainians – as alongside the U.S. Britain has undoubtedly been Ukraine’s strongest supporter and defender when it came to helping Kyiv battle against the Russian invasion. When addressing Ukraine’s Parliament, Johnson evoked Britain’s wartime spirit, known as the “Blitz spirit” when it faced Nazi bombs during World War II, to encourage Ukrainians to carry on. Contrary to more divided public sentiment at home, Johnson has become a popular figure in Ukraine due to U.K. support for the country in its hour of need.
- “Cut taxes and deregulate” – Johnson’s third piece of advice was kind of a jab at the treasury, as Britain’s finance minister was headed by Rishi Sunak who is now one of the two candidates in race to replace Johnson. It was no secret that there were tensions between 10 Downing Street and the Treasury with Johnson advocating lower taxes and more borrowing while Sunak has recently raised taxes and argued that borrowing must be reined in. “Cut taxes and deregulate wherever you can to make this the greatest place to live and invest, which it is,” Johnson said, adding: “I love the Treasury, but remember that if we had always listened to the Treasury, we would not have built the M25 or the Channel Tunnel,” referencing massive, costly infrastructure projects that revolutionized British transport routes around London, and to the continent.
- “Focus on the road ahead” – Johnson’s next bit of advice was to “focus on the road ahead, but always remember to check the rear-view mirror,” which raised a laugh from lawmakers on Wednesday. It is difficult to say what he was referring to but the phrase echoes one of Johnson’s key struggles in government in recent months.
- “It is not twittering that counts; it is the people” – his final piece of advice to his successors and his fellow lawmakers, was not to put too much attention to social media trolls and comments. He said, “Remember, above all, it is not Twitter that counts; it is the people that sent us here,” Johnson said, reminding members of Parliament (MPs) to put their constituents, who elect them to their positions in the first place, at the top of their agendas.”
Johnson concluded his speech by saying, “Hasta la vista, baby!” as parting words. This famous phrase has led political commentators to question whether or not a charismatic politician plans to come back or not.
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A timeline of Boris Johnson’s political career
- Served as a member of Parliament in the House of Commons representing the constituency of Henley.
- Served as London mayor, overseeing the 2012 London Olympics.
- Co-leader of the campaign to take Britain out of the European Union, in opposition to then-Prime Minister David Cameron, a fellow Conservative. Cameron resigned after voters approve Brexit in a national referendum on June 23, 2016.
- Served as Foreign Secretary under Cameron’s successor, Prime Minister Theresa May. Johnson resigned in July 2018 in opposition to May’s strategy for a “soft” Brexit that would maintain close ties with the EU.
- Theresa May resigned as Conservative Party leader over her failure to persuade Parliament to back the Brexit agreement she negotiated with the EU. The party split between those who back May and hard-liners, led by Johnson, who are willing to risk a no-deal Brexit in order to wring concessions from the EU.
- Johnson was elected Conservative Party leader in a vote by party members. He took office as prime minister the next day, inheriting a minority government that relies on votes from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to pass legislation. Johnson insists Britain will leave the EU on Oct. 31, with or without a deal.
- Parliament was dissolved and early elections were set for mid-December as Johnson seeks a mandate for his Brexit strategy.
- Johnson wins an 80-seat majority in the general election, giving him the backing to push through Brexit legislation. The victory makes Johnson the most electorally successful Conservative leader since Margaret Thatcher.
- The Brexit deal became law after approval by U.K. Parliament. European Parliament approves the deal six days later.
- Johnson places U.K. in first lockdown due to COVID-19.
- Johnson was hospitalized and later moved to intensive care with COVID-19. He is released from the hospital on April 12, thanking the nurses who sat with him through the night to make sure he kept breathing.
- Allegations surfaced that government officials attended parties in government offices during November and December 2020 in violation of COVID-19 lockdown rules. The scandal grows to reports of more than a dozen parties. Johnson denied the allegations, but opposition leaders criticized the government for breaking the law as people across the country made sacrifices to combat the pandemic.
- Johnson authorized an investigation into the scandal, dubbed “Partygate.” Pressure builds for a leadership challenge, but fizzles.
- Some three dozen junior ministers resigned from the government, attacking Johnson’s leadership. Two of Johnson’s most senior Cabinet ministers, Treasury chief Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid, quit the government.
- Johnson resigns as Conservative Party leader but plans to remain as prime minister while the leadership contest is held.