This morning, Boris Johnson will make a sombre journey to Balmoral to see the Queen and mark the official transfer of power from him to the new prime minister, Liz Truss.
He’s been the poster boy for Brexit, the flag bearer for Levelling Up, and then the party boy of Downing Street who was eventually brought down by a sex scandal not involving him.
Whether or not Johnson stays in frontline politics, offering Liz Truss either support or drumming up angst on the backbenches, his personality will leave a mark on how the Conservative Party govern – and how they fight the next election.
Johnson turned a tide of voters to the Tories and even after being turfed out, the Conservative Party members still had an abiding loyalty for their victor of the 2019 election.
Yesterday, Truss played to this crowd, some of whom wish he was still prime minister, and thanked Boris, saying he “delivered Brexit, he rolled out the vaccine and he stood up to Vladimir Putin”.
Now, you would be on fairly solid ground to argue Brexit was not “done”, given the lingering political uncertainty over the Northern Ireland question. But credit where credit is due, the rollout of the vaccine prevented the UK from going into lockdown last winter, and will hopefully protect us from future waves of Covid-19 in the future .
This year, he has been one of the most vocal and forthright world leaders against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Boris Johnson also wrought significant damage to our political institutions and the Conservative Party. He was ideologically adrift. This meant it was left to his cabinet to fight for his core principles. This split played out publicly in the race between Truss and Sunak, but it was being fought on the Conservative benches for much longer.
His flagship “levelling up” policy, which promised hope to level out the economic disparity, ultimately boiled down to lofty aspirations taking their cue from Renaissance Florence.
He is a man who spent much of his life building up to be prime minister, and had no idea what to do when he eventually got it. His legacy, likewise, will be determined by his time as London Mayor and Foreign Secretary, and how he chooses to hold himself as he leaves No10 and heads for his new house in Herne Hill.
To say rest in peace would be to continually ignore all the lessons of Boris Johnson’s political career.