Boris Johnson resignation: A graceless speech and a classless gesture

Two politicians in Downing Street - one utterly graceless, the other simply classless.

One coming in, the other going, reluctantly, but united by their words and actions which left you shaking your head in utter despair at the lamentable standards of those who are meant to govern and lead by example.

Andrea Jenkyns was one of the inner circle allowed to stand in Downing Street to listen to Boris Johnson’s appalling resignation speech.

She then returned as the newly appointed education minister, and gave a one-fingered salute to the crowds outside.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves after making a statement in front of 10 Downing Street (Pic: Justin Tallis/ AFP)

Any Prime Minister with a shred of respect for the office would have turned her straight round, and found an instant replacement. Career terminated even before she got to collect her red despatch box.

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There was no apology, no attempt to take responsibility for her conduct, just an “I’m only human” shrug of the shoulders, and a pointed finger - possibly the same one - at the crowd which she said was abusive.

Jenkyns said she’d had "huge amounts of abuse from some of the people who were there over the years.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns inside after addressing the nation as he announces his resignation (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

She was right when she said she shouldn’t have to endure such abuse - but that doesn’t mean you get to act like one of the mob, not when you are supposed to be a Government minister.And if she can’t get her head round that, then she has no place taking a seat in the Cabinet.

But, standards and dignity of office were shredded by Johnson’s vulgar leadership. Even in his final moments, they were debased further.

Jenkyns may come to regret that gesture as it is played on a loop for the rest of her career, but Johnson seems incapable of such shame.

He’ll probably look to get his old column back and hit the chat show circuit and pretend it was all one big hoot. Hell mend any show that pays him and gives that platform after the damage he has done.

Johnson’s grubby determination to cling to office was straight from the Trump playbook; all bluster and bravado, and zero acknowledgement of any failings.

His speech was one last chance valedictory - the ‘greatest hits’ of how he got the big decisions right, led us out of lockdown and how he had a mandate from the people to stay in power.

It was delusional stuff from a man who presided over Partygate and a culture which the public found utterly repugnant.

In the end, he stood alone to make a resignation speech, every word of which must have stuck in his gullet.

Where Gordon Brown and Theresa My left with dignity, Johnson spoke like a petulant child who’d just had his favourite toy confiscated.

He blamed his going on the “powerful herd instinct” - “when the herd moves it moves - and he thanks his security detail, with a barbed “the one group who never leak.”

His immaturity shone through once more as he said he wanted us to know how sad he was giving up the best job in the world: “But them's the breaks.”

Glib to the end, Johnson will go down as one of the worst Prime Ministers in history.

But, hey, them’s the breaks.