In the first meeting of the new Cabinet on Friday, the Prime Minister said it is to “spit out the orange peel” and work together, having sacked three people who would otherwise have joined them around the table in Downing Street.
Both demoted Justice Secretary Dominic Raab and his replacement as Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss sat opposite Mr Johnson amid reports that they have both staked a claim to the Chevening grace- and-favour residence.
Mr Johnson was in a buoyant mood, making jokes and deploying metaphors as he gave an opening speech to the ministers crowded around the Cabinet table, not wearing masks.
With former education secretary Gavin Williamson among those sacked, the Prime Minister told the surviving Cabinet members they are all there on “merit” but that it is time to redouble their efforts to deliver for the public.
“I’m just thinking about delivery… I’ve seen a few delivery rooms, probably seen as many delivery rooms as anybody in this… apart from the exception of Jacob (Rees-Mogg, the Commons Leader),” said Mr Johnson, a father of at least six.
“I know that delivery normally involves a superhuman effort by at least one person in the room.
“But there are plenty of other people in that room who are absolutely indispensable to that successful outcome.”
He continued: “To mix my metaphors, this is, if you like, the half-time pep talk.
“This is the moment when we spit out the orange peel, we adjust our gum shields and our scrum caps.
“And we get out on to the pitch in the knowledge that we’re going to have to do it together and we’re going to have to do it as a team.”