The GuardianThe Guardian

Boris Johnson isn’t finished. His next move in politics may be even more alarming

By Martin Kettle

05 Aug 2022 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

As the Tory leadership race plows ahead, Boris Johnson will finally leave Downing Street in a month's time. He, like Trump, is unlikely to go quietly.

As this summer has shown, no prime minister gives up power enthusiastically. Almost without exception, Britain’s leaders leave office in a foul mood somewhere between fury and fatalism. Herbert Asquith and Edward Heath stand out among former inhabitants of 10 Downing Street as two who could never come to terms with their falls. Both went to the same Oxford college as Boris Johnson.

Most prime ministers at least try to go with a show of acceptance, albeit through gritted teeth. A few – Arthur Balfour, Neville Chamberlain and Alec Douglas-Home among them – even served later in other prime ministers’ cabinets. The palm for good grace, though, goes to Stanley Baldwin, who reportedly told the police on the Downing Street door on his last exit in 1937 that he was departing with a spring in his step.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content