Inside Boris's final moments as PM: Rachel Johnson reveals what happened behind No10's door on his last morning in job

6 September 2022, 09:15 | Updated: 6 September 2022, 09:39

Boris Johnson has made his final speech
Boris Johnson has made his final speech. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Will Taylor

Rachel Johnson has recounted the final moments of Boris Johnson's time in No10.

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The departing Prime Minister said "this is it, folks" as he took to the lectern for the final time in his tenure since becoming leader in 2019.

He described himself as a booster rocket falling into a remote part of the Pacific as he took a bombastic and light-hearted tone to his speech - despite one part in which he suggested the "rules" in the baton race of the premiership had changed mid-race.

Among well-wishers and press gathered outside No10 in Downing Street was LBC's Rachel Johnson, who described his final minutes in the job on Tuesday morning.

She told Nick Ferrari at Breakfast: "I was inside No10 on the last day of Boris Johnson’s premiership… I am reporting for you.

"Turned up at 7, when into No9, then went into No10 where there was an inner circle of “Parsnips” – Andrew Parsons, the official photographer, the Prime Minister… the people who run Downing Street, like Shelley [Williams-Walker], the No10 Chief of Staff, Baroness Finn, Nadine and I came in.

Rachel Johnson exclusively reveals the mood inside Downing Street

"Jacob Rees-Mogg came in with his son Peter and Andy Parsons kept saying Peter and I thought he was referring to Jacob Rees-Mogg as Pater, as in father, so that was all a bit confusing.

"What was interesting about it was this – in the last 15 minutes of his time in No10 you would think he would be off in a side room, reading over his notes, just kind of having a moment, just preparing himself because you saw the press pen opposite, it was absolutely packed. The street was packed.

Read more: This is it folks: Boris jibes that Tories changed the rules in final speech as Prime Minister

"And you had this morning sun, this new dawn feeling as the sun filtered through the sort of hazy morning mist.

"Jacob and Peter asked for a photograph, Nadine asked for a photograph, which is all great but he obliged right up to the end.

"There were bacon sandwiches but someone said no the food’s never worth eating in No10.

"Some rather grey looking RAF-type tea and then we were all taken out and put in our places and then 7.30 comes out with Carrie.

Rachel Johnson says Boris knew Partygate would be the end of his time

"And they were going to go straight onto the plane as you know, the kids were somewhere else, and that was it."

Asked about how Mr Johnson appeared as he left his dream job, Ms Johnson said: "Astonishing resilience and humour, I would say.

"I have no idea how difficult really the last few weeks and months have been, but I think when Partygate started he knew it was bad, if they weren't going to get him - the people who didn't like him and his style of politics and way of running Government - couldn't get him on Brexit... they would somehow get him on Covid.

"I think he knew that Partygate would be this thing that would build up and build up and I think it's a terrible missed opportunity."

She also noted that he referred to Roman leader Cincinnatus, saying he would take the plough. Cincinnatus was eventually called back to take charge during a crisis.

It was remarked upon as a possible hint about his political future - but Ms Johnson would not be drawn on it.

She said she had "teary chats" with MPs who won their seats under Mr Johnson during the 2019 election, and that many onlookers were stunned. Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries asked if she had a handkerchief to hand.

Mr Johnson departed Downing Street to Northolt air base, where he then flew to Aberdeen to head to Balmoral to formally resign as Prime Minister.

Liz Truss, who was confirmed as the winner of the Tory leadership election on Tuesday, is heading up in a separate jet.

"It was a kind of odd buoyancy I would say, because this is what my brother does, he wants everybody to feel good, even if he's feeling terrible inside, he feels that he has to spread the love and cheer everybody up.

"And that's what I felt, instead of focusing on himself in those last 15, 20 minutes, Jacob Rees-Mogg's son was taking up his time and that's what I think what I will take away.

"And also the times that people said to me when my mother died I got a handwritten letter

"And these are the things that nobody sees, the people who sit in judgement on him and have done day after day after day, these are the things that aren't briefed out, that the public don't see, and I as his sister see, and that's why I went today - to support him."

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