Theresa May refuses to clap Boris Johnson in final dig during standing ovation

·Political Correspondent, Yahoo News UK
·3-min read
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Theresa May did not clap for Boris Johnson during his final appearance in the House of Commons as prime minister. (parliamentlive.tv)

Theresa May refused to clap for Boris Johnson in parliament on Wednesday as he left the House of Commons for the last time as prime minister.

In a final dig at her successor, May refused to join in with the traditional applause for the outgoing PM, though she did join the rest of the Conservative MPs in standing as Johnson left the chamber.

Even then, it took her a while to rise to her feet and she did so having spent much of Johnson's last appearance at the despatch box looking on with distain.

Read more: Tory leadership race: Liz Truss now favourite to be next prime minister

Johnson and May have had a fraught relationship and clashed multiple times during her time in office over Brexit.

Her anger with the prime minister over his conduct during the Partygate scandal in recent months has been clear to see in her comments from the backbenches.

In January this year, May delivered a stinging rebuke following the publication of the initial findings of the Sue Gray report, which found "serious failings" to observe the standards expected in government.

She said at the time in front of a packed House of Commons: “Either my right honourable friend had not read the rules, did not understand what they meant and nor did others around him, or they didn’t think the rules applied to No. 10. Which was it?”

On Wednesday, there was also little attempt on the opposition benches to conceal their dislike of Johnson.

Watch: Tory MPs give Boris Johnson standing ovation as he completes final PMQs

One SNP MP attempted to get his colleagues to stand and clap for Johnson – but subsequently sat down red-faced and embarrassed when his colleagues shook their head.

And Labour refused to clap at all, with looks of disgust on many faces.

As Tory MPs gave Johnson a standing ovation, most Labour MPs – including the Labour leader – slipped out of the chamber with many Tories looking on angrily that the party had broken with tradition.

The mixed response to Johnson's exit came after an eccentric farewell speech, in which he stated his successes had been "mission largely accomplished" before channelling the Terminator and signing off with "hasta la vista, baby".

He also gave his successor – who will be Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss or Penny Mordaunt – some advice.

“I want to use the last few seconds to give some words of advice to my successor, whoever he or she may be," he said.

Read more: Tory leadership debate: Not one candidate would have Boris Johnson in their cabinet

“Number one, stay close to the Americans, stick up for the Ukrainians, stick up for freedom and democracy everywhere.

“Cut taxes and de-regulation wherever you can and 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, it’s the people who sent us here.”

Whether Johnson’s valedictory comments have left the door open for a possible comeback - with the Terminator also known for the catchphrase: “I’ll be back" - is unclear.

Asked if a comeback is on the cards, Johnson's press secretary said: “That was his way of saying farewell to his colleagues.”

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