Boris Johnson claimed he had “delivered on every single promise” as he defended his record at No 10 and sought to persuade Conservatives to back the government at Monday’s confidence vote.
The outgoing PM attempted to polish his legacy by telling the Commons he led “one of the most dynamic governments of modern times” which had overcome “adversity on scale we haven’t seen for centuries”.
Cheered on by Tory MPs, Mr Johnson said his party would soon “coalesce in loyalty” around a new leader – but also hinted that he would soon speak out against the Tory rebels who kicked him out of office.
“We got Brexit done, and the rejoiners and revengers were left plotting and planning and biding their time,” he said, before adding: “And I will have more to say about the events of the last few weeks and months in due course.”
The PM pointed to his 2019 general election victory over Labour, saying the Tories “sent the great blue ferret so far up their left trouser leg they couldn’t move”, adding: “We won seats they never dreamed of losing.”
He also claimed Sir Keir Starmer would attempt to overturn Brexit and take Britain back into the EU. “If he were ever to come to power with his hopeless coalition of Liberal Democrats and Scottish nationalists, he would try to do so again at the drop of a hat.”
Mr Johnson finished by telling MPs he was “proud” of his record, adding: “We’ve had to take some of the bleakest decisions since the war and I believe that we got the big calls right.”
Sir Keir started his own Commons speech by accusing Mr Johnson of indulging in sheer fantasy when it came to his legacy. “The delusion is never ending – what a relief for the country that they finally got round to sacking him,” he said.
The Labour leader added: “He’s been forced out in disgrace, judged by his colleagues and peers to be unworthy of his position and unfit for office.”
Reminded Tory MPs of the recent Chris Pincher saga which sparked the Tory revolt, Sir Keir said: “He promoted someone he knew to be a sexual predator, and then denied all knowledge that inevitably went wrong.”
“It’s the same pattern of behaviour when he and his mates partied through lockdown, denied it for months and forced his ministers to repeat those lies until he was found out,” he added.
Starmer also had a pop at the Tory leadership contest, after a Sky News debate was cancelled. Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss declined to take part after TV hustings descended into public slanging matches.
The Labour leader said the debates were “so embarrassing that even the contestants are pulling out”, and compared the Tories to a Premier League team “burning through managers as they slide inevitably towards relegation”.
MPs will stage a vote of confidence in the government on Monday evening around 10pm, amid renewed opposition calls for Mr Johnson to step down immediately and hand over to a caretaker.
If the government is defeated it would almost certainly trigger a general election, although that would require a significant number of Tory MPs to vote against it, or at least abstain.
It would appear unlikely given the party is leaderless and in no fit state to fight an election, while the initial wave of anger at Mr Johnson has largely subsided.
Urging Tory MPs to act, Sir Keir said: “So, why are they leaving him with his hands on the levers of power for eight weeks? … This is not the summer for Downing Street to be occupied by a vengeful squatter, mired in scandal.”
Mr Johnson started Monday afternoon’s debate by saying he had no idea why Labour leader wanted confidence motion.
But he was politely reminded by Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle: “It’s actually the government who has put [this motion] down for today.”