Terminated Boris Johnson signs off with 'Hasta la vista, baby' in final PMQs

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Boris Johnson signed off from his final appearance at Prime Minister's Questions by telling MPs: "Hasta la vista, baby" - and warned his successor to "always remember to check your rear-view mirror".

Mr Johnson declared he is leaving the role with his "mission largely accomplished".

But, in what could be interpreted as a dig at leadership hopeful and former chancellor Rishi Sunak, who resigned from Mr Johnson's government earlier this month, the prime minister urged the Treasury to "cut taxes" and stressed that "it is not Twitter that counts".

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Rounding off his final PMQs, Mr Johnson said: "I want to use the last few seconds to give some words of advice to my successor, whoever he or she may be.

"Number one: Stay close to the Americans, stick up for the Ukrainians, stick up for freedom and democracy everywhere. Cut taxes and deregulate wherever you can to make this the greatest place to live and invest, which it is.

"I love the Treasury, but remember that if we'd always listened to the Treasury we wouldn't have built the M25 or the Channel Tunnel.

"Focus on the road ahead, but always remember to check the rear view mirror and remember above all it's not Twitter that counts."

The prime minister received a noisy cheer from his own backbench MPs, who ousted him from Downing Street just a few weeks ago, as he took to the despatch box in the Commons for the final time.

Parliament begins summer recess tomorrow, with Mr Johnson due to be replaced when MPs return to Westminster at the beginning of September.

At the beginning of PMQs, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer paid tribute to Mr Johnson ahead of his departure.

"Can I start by saying to the prime minister that I do know that the relationship between a prime minister and leader of the opposition is never easy - and this one's proved no exception to the rule.

"But I would like to take this opportunity to wish him his wife and his family the best for the future."

The prime minister confirmed that this would "probably... certainly be my last PMQs from this despatch box or any other" and that he would be "using the next few weeks to drive forward the agenda of 2019" including levelling up.

Mr Johnson left the chamber after the session to a standing ovation from the government benches.

Former Conservative prime minister Theresa May stood up but did not join in with the clapping.

There was no love lost between Mr Johnson and Sir Keir as the two party leaders clashed at Prime Minister's Questions for the final time ahead of the prime minister's impending departure from Number 10.

Mr Johnson called the Labour leader "one of those pointless plastic bollards you find around a rather deserted roadworks on the motorway", while Sir Keir quipped that he will "miss the delusion" of the prime minister.

Ahead of this afternoon's fifth round ballot in the ongoing Conservative leadership contest, Sir Keir read Mr Johnson damning quotes that each of the three remaining candidates - Penny Mordaunt, Liz Truss and Mr Sunak, have said about his government's record.

He noted that former chancellor Mr Sunak has said the other candidates' monetary policies are "nothing more than the fantasy economics of unfunded spending promises", to which Mr Johnson replied that Labour "know all about fantasy economic figures".

Sir Keir told the prime minister that Foreign Secretary Ms Truss "was withering about the government's economic record".

Referring to the pandemic in his response, the prime minister said that his government "dealt with and coped with" it "magnificently".

Moving on to the final candidate, Trade minister Ms Mordaunt, Sir Keir quoted her saying: "Our public services are in a desperate state. We can't continue with what we've been doing because it clearly isn't working."

He questioned: "Has the prime minister told her who's been running our public services for the last 12 years?"

Getting more frustrated with the Labour leader's line of questioning, Mr Johnson said: "This is absurd. He's doing this completely satirical."

Read more:
Starmer brands Boris Johnson a 'bull*******' and leadership candidates 'B grade'

The prime minister added that any of the three candidates would "wipe the floor" with Sir Keir in a future general election.

"Well, I am not following this thing particularly closely, but my impression is that there's been a quite a lot of debate already," he said.

"And I think the public, I think they're having an ample opportunity to view the talent - and any one of which, as I said before, like some household detergent, would wipe the floor with them."

The final two candidates in the Conservative leadership contest will be decided on Wednesday as the hopefuls edge closer to the top job - and Downing Street.

They will face one more ballot from Tory MPs, with the result announced at 4pm, before the top two embark on a summer of campaigning ahead of a vote by the wider party membership.

The winner is expected to be announced on 5 September.

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