The Daily Telegraph

Cincinnatu­s nod is Boris building his own myth

- By Ben Riley-smith POLITICAL EDITOR

On the face of it, Boris Johnson’s farewell speech was the epitome of loyalty to the Conservati­ve Party and its new leader, Liz Truss.

The departing prime minister, speaking on the steps of 10 Downing Street before heading to Balmoral to see the Queen and step down, preached the values of unity.

He joked that if his dog, Dilyn, and Larry, the No 10 cat, can learn to get along despite their difference­s, so can Tory MPS – despite recent history suggesting otherwise.

His closing line was a pledge to his successor: “I will be supporting Liz Truss and the new government every step of the way.” But there was also this reference: “Like Cincinnatu­s I am returning to my plough.” On the face of it, this, too, fits the mould. Cincinnatu­s took up the top job in Rome in a time of need, only to willingly give it up. He was called from his farm to serve the Roman republic, according to Livy’s account, then quit to work in the fields of his own accord.

But what he did not say is that Cincinnatu­s returned for a second time to the top job when duty called.

Was the outgoing prime minister, who studied classics at Oxford University, leaving a clue that he would be willing to come back? It would not be the first such hint if so.

“Mission largely accomplish­ed – for now,” Mr Johnson said, in his final Prime Minister’s Questions after being ousted. “Hasta la vista, baby,” he has also declared, using an Arnold Schwarzene­gger quip from the Terminator films, which featured another catchphras­e: “I’ll be back.”

His supporters certainly believe he could be open to a second run at the premiershi­p. Polls show Mr Johnson was more popular than Ms Truss or Rishi Sunak among Tories during the leadership race, and there remain loyal Johnson supporters among MPS.

So, is he teasing a comeback? For a journalist-turned-politician who is known for his savvy use of language, the Cincinnatu­s reference will be enough to raise the eyebrows of critics and supporters alike.

 ?? ?? Cincinnatu­s came back from his plough to lead the Roman republic for a second time
Cincinnatu­s came back from his plough to lead the Roman republic for a second time

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