Liz Truss is officially the new British prime minister

By Rob Picheta and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 1:19 p.m. ET, September 6, 2022
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5:56 a.m. ET, September 6, 2022

Six in 10 Brits want an election this year, poll says

From CNN's Richard Allen Greene

A new opinion poll may make uncomfortable reading for Liz Truss as she prepares for her first day as Britain's prime minister.

Most Brits want her to call a general election almost immediately, rather than wait out the current parliamentary term which could last another two years, the survey found.

Six in ten said they want a chance to vote this year, according to the poll by Savanta ComRes, which was conducted before Truss was officially announced as the winner of the Conservative leadership contest on Monday.

Half of the public said Truss cannot unite the country, while just 18% said she can. Meanwhile, only 18% said they had a favorable view of Truss as she prepared to take the job; 44% said they view her unfavorably.

The margin of error on the survey is plus or minus two percentage points.

The Conservatives' poll numbers have been sinking for several months and show little sign of improving under Truss's leadership, though previous prime ministers have enjoyed a bounce in opinion polls after taking the job.

In her first speech as Tory leader, Truss hinted that she was preparing to fight an election "in two years" -- in other words, towards the end of the current Parliament, as leaders typically do.

But she could choose to call for a snap election at any time. The prospect of a dire 2023 economically, and current polling suggesting anything from a narrow Labour victory to a comfortable Labour majority, may well be weighing on her mind.

“This poll illustrates the gargantuan task awaiting the new Prime Minister," Chris Hopkins, director of Political Research at Savanta ComRes, said in a press release.

"Not only does she have one of the most troublesome in-trays that any incoming PM has had post-war, healing the wounds caused by a fierce leadership election and uniting her party at the same time is going to take some doing."

The company interviewed 2,301 British adults between September 2 and 4.

5:15 a.m. ET, September 6, 2022

Saying goodbye and a "kissing hands" ceremony. The Queen's role in appointing a new PM

From CNN's Lauren Said-Moorhouse and Max Foster

Tourists visit Balmoral Castle in Scotland on June 3, 2015.
Tourists visit Balmoral Castle in Scotland on June 3, 2015. (Mauritz Antin/EPA/Shutterstock)

Boris Johnson's flight has landed in Aberdeen, Scotland and the outgoing leader is on his way to Balmoral Castle to resign to the Queen.

The monarch's role in political turnover is a requirement in Britain's unwritten constitution. Johnson will visit her to announce his intention to step down, and incoming Prime Minister Liz Truss will follow suit soon after to request to form a new government.

For Johnson, the meeting gives a chance to bid adieu. Little is truly known about these occasions, but some of Johnson's predecessors have touched on them in their memoirs. Gordon Brown said the final official duty of going to see the sovereign doesn't involve handing over seals of office or anything, but rather "simply saying goodbye to the Queen -- and thanking her."

In his autobiography, "My Life, Our Times," the former Labour prime minister said that "as usual, she was charming and the occasion itself was relaxed." Brown also recalled how the Queen humanized the situation by permitting his two young sons to be present when he received a parting gift -- an inscribed photograph of the monarch.

Britain's outgoing Prime Minister Gordon Brown is greeted by Queen Elizabeth in a meeting in which he tendered his resignation at Buckingham Palace in London, England, on May 11, 2010.
Britain's outgoing Prime Minister Gordon Brown is greeted by Queen Elizabeth in a meeting in which he tendered his resignation at Buckingham Palace in London, England, on May 11, 2010. (John Stillwell/Reuters)

Truss's later meeting is more significant. It's sometimes referred to as "kissing hands," during which the Queen rubber-stamps the appointment of a new minister, though politicians are not constitutionally required to actually plant their lips on the monarch.

David Cameron suggested the name isn't literal, but Tony Blair wrote in his autobiography that he fretted over how to conduct the procedure. A Palace official told him: "You don't actually kiss the Queen's hands in the ceremony of kissing hands. You brush them gently with your lips," Blair recalled in his autobiography.

Read more about the ritual here.

4:02 a.m. ET, September 6, 2022

"Good riddance": Johnson's critics attack final speech

Boris Johnson's farewell speech as UK prime minister was lambasted by critics and political opponents, who accused him of shirking responsibility and exaggerating the achievements of his administration.

The official Twitter handle of the Prime Minister tweeted out a video of Johnson and his wife, Carrie, walking the halls of Downing Street one last time, being cheered by his aides and supporters. "Thank you Boris," the caption read.

And a few loyal backbench Conservatives expressed their approval online -- though few Cabinet members were among them.

But many opposition MPs were in a less complimentary mood.

Labour's shadow foreign secretary dubbed Johnson the "worst Prime Minister of the modern era" and accused him of using his final speech to list "imaginary achievements."

One achievement Johnson touted was his oft-repeated -- and frequently criticized -- remark that his government will build 40 new hospitals. The majority of the new hospitals are actually replacements, refurbishments or improvements to existing buildings, according to fact checker Full Fact. Britain's National Health Service (NHS) is struggling through a staffing crisis, with workers stretched and patients forced to wait for procedures.

Labour MP Luke Pollard said there was "no apology" in his speech, "just more bluster."

"This speech was a microcosm of Boris Johnson’s time in No. 10. Graceless, feckless, boorish, ignorant, self-righteous, isolated and, above all, deceitful to the end," SNP lawmaker Gavin Newlands added.

3:40 a.m. ET, September 6, 2022

Johnson en route to Scotland to meet the Queen

The motorcade transporting the outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street, in London, England, on September 6.
The motorcade transporting the outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street, in London, England, on September 6. (John Sibley/

Boris Johnson's flight to Scotland has taken off from the RAF Northolt base in west London. It's the final journey he will make as Britain's Prime Minister.

Johnson will meet Queen Elizabeth to formally resign, and Liz Truss will soon be making the same journey to take over from him.

The Queen must formally rubber-stamp the formation of a new government. It's an entirely ceremonial event that usually takes just a few minutes, with a car whizzing each minister to Buckingham Palace -- a short distance from Downing Street.

But the 96-year-old monarch, who has experienced mobility problems this year and slimmed down her travels as a result, decided to stay put in the Scottish castle where she has spent much of her summer.

That meant an early 7:30 a.m. local time start to Johnson's farewell speech, and could stretch out a day of political drama even further.

4:04 a.m. ET, September 6, 2022

Johnson flashes anger at his downfall, but no apologies, in effort to define his premiership 

Analysis from CNN's Rob Picheta

Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks outside Downing Street in London, England, on September 6.
Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks outside Downing Street in London, England, on September 6. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

Boris Johnson’s final speech as prime minister went the same way as many of his previous public outings: he loudly touted what he sees as his achievements, made no mention of his failures or scandals, and showed a flash of bitterness towards those who ended up bringing him down.

"This is it, folks," Johnson began, before he launched into a well-rehearsed list of domestic policies he is keen to chalk up as successes.

But Johnson was also keen to define himself as a statesman and was quick to cite his response to the Ukraine crisis early in the speech, suggesting that the United Kingdom’s provision of arms “may very well have helped change the course of the biggest European war of 80 years.”

As he concluded his speech, he added among his government’s triumphs: “Speaking with clarity and authority, from Ukraine to the Aukus pact with America and Australia, because we are one whole and entire United Kingdom, whose diplomat security services and armed forces are so globally admired.”

That emphasis could hint towards future career plans outside the UK — or it could merely be a tacit acknowledgement that at home, he leaves office with his country mired in an economic crisis and millions of households struggling to make ends meet.

Johnson declined the opportunity to apologize for Partygate, the scandal over a series of lockdown-era gatherings inside Downing Street, which served as the first and largest domino in his downfall. Nor did he acknowledge the decline in public trust in his government, or the constant charges from politicians left and right that he has degraded public standards.

But he did suggest that, even after a summer to reflect on the collapse of his leadership, he retains some bitterness about the way he was forced out. 

Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street, on his last day in office as British prime minister watched by his wife Carrie, in London, England, on September 6.
Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street, on his last day in office as British prime minister watched by his wife Carrie, in London, England, on September 6. (Kevin Coombs/Reuters)

His jibe about the leadership contest becoming a “relay race” after colleagues “changed the rules” came well before any mention of his successor, Liz Truss. And he reminded the public of his sweeping election victory less than three years ago, which left many pundits predicting a new political dynasty with Johnson at the helm.

“I’m proud to have discharged the promises I made to my party when you were kind enough to choose me, winning the biggest majority since 1987, the biggest share of the vote since 1979,” Johnson said.

But British politics is notoriously brutal; his colleagues moved quickly to depose Johnson this summer after the glimmer of that electoral success was extinguished by months of scandal and sinking poll numbers. And now, after being cheered off from Downing Street, Johnson is traveling to Scotland to formally submit his resignation to the Queen and begin his life as a private citizen.

3:48 a.m. ET, September 6, 2022

Johnson urges Conservative Party to unite after bitter campaign

Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks outside Downing Street in London, England, on September 6.
Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks outside Downing Street in London, England, on September 6. (Alberto Pezzali/AP)

“This is a tough time for the economy. This is a tough time for families up and down the country,” Boris Johnson acknowledged, as he turned towards the cost-of-living crisis that Liz Truss will need to immediately respond to as new prime minister.

“We can and we will get through it, and we will come out stronger the other side,” Johnson said. “But I say to my fellow Conservatives: it’s time for politics to be over, folks.”

He also thanked his staff, his Cabinet, his dog Dilyn and the Downing Street cat, Larry — using the two pets as an example for the ruling Conservative Party, after a bitter campaign that saw two senior politicians lambasting each other’s plans for government.

“I just say to my party if Dilyn and Larry can put behind them their occasional difficulties, then so can the Conservative Party,” Johnson said.

“Above all, thanks to you, to the British people, to the voters, for giving me the chance to serve, all of you who worked so tirelessly together to beat Covid, to put us where we are today,” Johnson said.

3:01 a.m. ET, September 6, 2022

Johnson hints towards his next moves after being forced out

Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street, London, on September 6.
Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street, London, on September 6. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Images/Getty Images)

In his final speech as the UK's prime minister, Boris Johnson suggested some simmering anger at the way he was forced out as leader, telling the assembled crowd outside Downing Street that the leadership challenge “unexpectedly turned out to be a relay race — they changed the rules halfway through, but never mind that now.”

Johnson was forced out weeks after surviving a confidence vote, following a series of scandals over dishonesty and rule-breaking, and having lost the support of his fellow lawmakers.

He went on claim that “unemployment [is] down to lows not seen since I was about 10 years old and bouncing around on a space hopper,” before turning to his next moves.

“On the subject of bouncing around and future careers, let me say that I am now like one of this booster rockets that has fulfilled its function, and I will now be gently reentering the atmospheres and splashing down invisible in some remote and obscure corner of the Pacific,” Johnson said.

“Like Cincinnatus, I am returning to my plow, and I will be offering this government nothing but my fervent support,” referring to a Roman statesman who according to legend devoted himself to the republic during times of crisis.

“It’s time for us all to get behind Liz Truss and her team and her program,” Johnson went on. 

It has been rumored that Johnson might consider a return to politics, perhaps even during the current Parliament if Truss struggles to gain the support of the public, and his speech did not boost or allay that speculation.

2:45 a.m. ET, September 6, 2022

Johnson giving final speech at Downing Street

Britain's outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his final speech outside 10 Downing Street in central London, England on September 6.
Britain's outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers his final speech outside 10 Downing Street in central London, England on September 6. (Daniel Leal/AFP/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson is giving his farewell speech outside Downing Street, with his Cabinet and allies cheering him on above the noise of protesters from the street.

“In only a couple of hours I will be in Balmoral to see Her Majesty the Queen, and the torch will finally be passed to a new Conservative leader,” Johnson said.

He began by touting what he considers his biggest achievements; rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine and helping provide Ukraine with arms in its war against Russia.

“If [Russian President Vladimir] Putin thinks that he can succeed by blackmailing and bullying the British people, then he is utterly deluded,” he added.

2:40 a.m. ET, September 6, 2022

Boris Johnson to bid farewell after scandal-ridden premiership

Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a speech on his last day in office, outside Downing Street, in London, England, on September 6.
Outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a speech on his last day in office, outside Downing Street, in London, England, on September 6. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Before Liz Truss can take over at Downing Street, her predecessor must say goodbye.

Boris Johnson will make a speech soon outside Number 10, before traveling to Scotland to formally offer his resignation to the Queen.

It's a humbling day for the outgoing leader, who won a resounding majority in the December 2019 general election, only to see his premiership crumble under the weight of multiple scandals.

Johnson is likely to claim a list of achievements before his three-year stint in office comes to an end.