BORIS JOHNSON departed the Commons stage as Prime Minister yesterday with a typically curious sideswipe at Keir Starmer, whom he labelled a “great pointless human bollard”, and left Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to fight for his crown.

In true unconventional style, he finished with a quote from Terminator 2 – “hasta la vista, baby” – which suggested he thought he may one day return, but in that he is sadly misguided.

He was a Prime Minister of his moment. When our politics was blocked, it needed his peculiar skills of charisma and bluster to get Brexit done. He should have left then, so that others could clear up the mess, but instead he stayed to make even more messes.

Temperamentally, he wasn’t suited to being Prime Minister. He regarded too much as a joke and this set the tone for the Downing Street civil servants who believed even the lockdown rules they’d written to be a joke.

However, he had good points. He is so likeable that he persuaded vast swathes of County Durham and the Tees Valley to break with tradition and turn blue and, in return, he has shown the Conservative Party that corners of the North East do deserve the London government’s attention. Whether “levelling up” becomes a long-lasting coherent strategy, rather than a catch-all slogan, remains to be seen.

Although some people will regard his short reign as offensive, he is surprisingly popular – particularly now he has gone – with the public. They see that this untypical anti-politician was dealt a tough hand with the pandemic and was then brought down by typical, back-stabbing politicians.

But still, given the unsavoury chaos of his regime, even they must hope that when he says hasta la vista, it means he’ll see them again on telly telling his curious jokes rather than back in Downing Street.