David Cameron has made his last appearance in parliament as prime minister ahead of going to Buckingham Palace to offer his resignation and advise on his replacement. Theresa May will formally take over hours later.
Members of Parliament applauded David Cameron on his last day as Prime Minister after six years in office. While his Conservative colleagues stood, the opposition Labour Party members remained seated.
Cameron took a series of questions from MPs during the last of the weekly Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) sessions, giving specific comments for the item of the top of May's agenda as she takes over - negotiating Britain's exit from the European Union (EU):
"My advice to my successor, who is a brilliant negotiator, is that we should try to be as close to the European Union as we can be, for the benefits of trade, of co-operation and of security," Cameron said as his successor, Home Secretary Theresa May, sat beside him the House of Commons on Wednesday. "As I leave today," he said, "I hope that people will see a stronger country."
May takes over later on Wednesday and is expected to announce her key Cabinet appointments shortly afterwards. A new post, Brexit minister, will be in charge of securing a new trade and travel deal with the EU. Finance minister George Osborne is expected to lose his job, with current energy minister Amber Rudd and international development minister Justine Greening tipped for lead roles along with foreign minister Philip Hammond and Brexit campaigner Chris Grayling.
Commentators have already made comparisons between Cameron and Anthony Eden, who was prime minister in 1956 during the Suez Crisis which ended British prominence in the Middle East. Cameron's calling of the referendum on the EU has been criticized by his opponents as unnecessary, with consequences on a similar scale. The referendum exposed deep divisions in British society, and divergence between voters in London, Scotland and Northern Ireland who voted to Remain in the EU, and voters in England and Wales who voted to Leave.
However, Cameron cited a number of accomplishments including an increase in employment and the legalization of gay marriage.
“I will miss the roar of the crowd, I will miss the barbs of the opposition. But I will be willing you on, willing all of you on." He added: "Nothing is really impossible if you put your mind to it,” Cameron claimed. "After all, as I once said, I was the future once."
This was a reference to his first ever PMQs appearance, then as leader of the opposition, when he said of former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair: "He was the future once!"
Larry the cat, 10 Downing Street's mouser, to stay
Cameron has to leave the official residence with his family and formally deliver his resignation to the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday afternoon before May moves in to Downing Street to take over.
The future of the cat, Larry, which lives at the PM residence has been assured, as well as Cameron's visual proof that he did actually did love him, showing the House a photograph of the two together:
The nine-year-old feline was rescued by the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and chosen by Downing Street staff in 2011 to catch mice which had been seen during television news reports.
jm/msh (Reuters, AP)