Boris Johnson bounded out of Number 10 to the loud applause of his remaining supporters as the tune of “Bye, Bye Baby” blasted out from beyond the Downing Street gates.
Brooding grey clouds had blotted out the sun over central London as Mr Johnson, dubbed the “greased piglet” for his previous ability to slip out of politically perilous situations, faced the glare of the world’s media at 12.30pm.
His wife Carrie, wearing a red dress and carrying their daughter Romy, had smiled as she waited for her husband to emerge, chatting with Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and being comforted by Cabinet Office minister Nigel Adams, both Johnson loyalists.
The group of supporters also included Brexit Opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris and Andrew Griffith, head of Mr Johnson’s policy unit.
At the opposite end of the street, people jeered and booed from outside the gates as an adapted version of the Bay City Roller’s hit played out, with the lyrics changed to “Bye, Bye Boris, no one will cry”.
Mr Johnson, his trademark unkempt blond hair fluttering in the breeze, launched straight into his speech to the nation, announcing in little more than six minutes that he had agreed to make way for a new Conservative Party leader and, eventually, prime minister.
He revealed his sadness at “giving up the best job in the world” but vowed to give his replacement his support “whoever he or she may be”, though his words also revealed his unhappiness with the actions of the stream of MPs who had deserted his Government over the last two days.
“The herd instinct is powerful and when the herd moves, it moves,” he bridled, adding simply “them’s the breaks”.
And he acknowledged there would be many people who would greet his demise with relief – not least by the noisy band of protesters braying at the gates.
As he made his round of thank yous to his family, the civil service and the NHS, Mr Johnson also appeared to forget where he was, saying “I want to thank the wonderful staff here at Chequers” before correcting himself.
Once he had finished, there were heartfelt cheers and applause from his corner of loyalists, which was drowned out by the Benny Hill theme tune.
Actor Hugh Grant may well have inspired the stunt, having tweeting earlier on Thursday to serial anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray: “Glad you have your speakers back. Do you by any chance have the Benny Hill music to hand?”
Later, as she was leaving Downing Street, vociferous Johnson supporter Andrea Jenkyns MP was caught on video gesturing at the crowd and appearing to shout “those who laugh last, laugh the loudest, wait and see”, prompting boos.