September 30, 2023


You’ve got weeks left at the head of Britain’s government — so how are you going to spend them?

If you’re Boris Johnson and you’ve been fired by your own MPs, you might try squeezing in as much fun as possible.

Since being forced to name a departure date as Conservative leader following a Cabinet coup, Johnson’s found time to big up his own record, fire people who annoy him, throw one last massive party — and pilot a fighter jet.

Here’s how the departing premier has been whiling away the hours ahead of his September 6 exit.

Sacking old rivals (round 1)

Remember that guy who looked at you funny? He’s toast.

Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have history. The leading Brexiteer torpedoed Johnson’s earlier bid to be prime minister in 2016 — and if you thought things had all been patched up by a stint for Gove in Johnson’s Cabinet, think again.

The morning after key colleagues resigned from Johnson’s government in an effort to topple him, Gove told Johnson the game was up and that he should quit.

Johnson’s response? Sack Gove — and have aides tell the press he’s always been a “snake.”

Gove may in fact have been on to something, as Johnson pretty swiftly announced his own plan to quit as more loyalists headed for the exit — although he did manage to compare his own colleagues to cows as he did so.

Calling people he dislikes weird names

After announcing his resignation, Johnson faced opposition leader Keir Starmer for their weekly parliamentary battle of prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons, and he wasn’t exactly armed with triple-A zingers.

Famed for using the sessions to brand Starmer with unflattering nicknames that tend to stick with the public — think “Captain Hindsight” and “Sir Beer Korma” (you had to be there) — Johnson turned in a distinctly low-energy effort.

Alluding to the bitter Tory leadership contest unfolding, the PM told Starmer “any one” of the candidates would “wipe the floor” with… “Captain Crasheroonie Snoozefest.”

A bemused Starmer could only look on.

Having one last massive party

You might think that being brought down partly by a scandal dubbed “Partygate” would dull your enthusiasm for a throw-down, but Johnson’s love of revelry is apparently undimmed.

Some 130 people — including senior ministers and close friends — munched on burgers and sipped deluxe sparkling wine in the sun at the prime minister’s official Chequers country estate this Sunday, as part of a farewell bash organized by the Johnsons.

In slightly awkward timing, Johnson skipped an emergency meeting organized to coordinate the government’s response to the heatwave which hit Europe this week — although the government insists junior ministers were able to do the job just fine.

Living out his Top Gun fantasies

Another bucket list wish awaited World War II nerd Johnson as he prepared for a speech at the Farnborough Air Show.

The prime minister filmed a compelling selfie video from inside the actual cockpit of an actually-airborne RAF Typhoon fighter jet — taking the maxim of going out on a high rather literally.

“I leave it to you to imagine who I would like at this stage to send into orbit,” the outgoing PM said in the aftermath. And yes, he did actually take the controls.

Giving himself a glowing performance review

Why not?

Days after blocking a Labour parliamentary motion that stated MPs had no confidence in his government, Johnson relented and put forward his own motion stating that parliament did indeed have confidence in the government, actually.

The entire thing was an act of political theater and, given the Tory majority in the Commons, would never have threatened to bring down the government.

But it did give Johnson a great chance to mark his own homework.

In a colorful half-an-hour speech in the run-up to the vote, the departing PM claimed the “deep state” was plotting with Starmer to reverse Brexit, argued that he led “one of the most dynamic governments of modern times” and insisted he got “the big calls right.”

“Only an unconventional man would want to have the opportunity to speak at their own funeral,” the Labour MP Kevin Brennan quipped in response.

Oh go on then, just one more sacking

Although Tory MPs loyally turned up en masse to support Johnson in Monday’s confidence vote, 11 failed to register a vote — among them the persistent Johnson critic Tobias Ellwood.

The pair have regularly beefed over defense policy, and Ellwood was promptly stripped of the Conservative whip for his failure to vote for the government. It means he’s currently unable to sit as a Tory MP, or vote in the ongoing leadership race.

“Tobias could have voted like everyone else,” tweeted Johnson loyalist Nadine Dorries.

Ellwood was less sure he could have made it, given he was meeting the president of Moldova to discuss the Ukraine crisis in his role as defense committee chairman at the time. Excuses, excuses.

Pretending he’s still mates with everyone

In stark contrast to a viral video of an unhappy Cabinet in the days before he was forced to resign, Tuesday’s final meeting of Johnson’s top team was all smiles.

Ministers who had forced his ouster only weeks earlier applauded Johnson and presented the Winston Churchill-admiring PM with an original set of the wartime hero’s books — before posing for a smiley leavers photo to give Johnson something to remember them all by. Still-warm revolvers were apparently just out of shot.


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