Today is not a day to dwell on the niceties and nuances of Boris Johnson’s first farewell of many – this is not the first time we will hear the personal reflections of his time in office and his wish that things had gone differently. Before long he will charge for the privilege.
As ever, to reduce what is going on to the level of a personal psychodrama is to miss the point.
This is about what is shaping up to be a constitutional crisis.
Boris Johnson resigned this lunchtime yet – critically – remains in office potentially for many months.
He has a cabinet of old timers and new appointees widely assumed by Tory MPs to be intending to simply steady the ship of state for a few months until a successor prime minister comes along.
Is this remotely feasible?
Boris Johnson in office but hobbled, unable to make big decisions commensurate with the big challenges facing the country is a prospect that will be worrying many in Whitehall.
Transitions are not uncommon – Theresa May stayed in office until a successor was found.
There are conventions that should limit the actions of a PM whose time is limited – but no laws to block him from doing as he pleases.
But Mr Johnson has shown himself in the last week not an observer of conventions – will he resist the temptation to pull the levers of power, and shape his legacy, in the coming weeks?
He has horrified Tory MPs with his decision-making.
Can we really have ‘a do nothing’ government?
Early this morning those around Boris Johnson were even talking about changing economic course and implementing tax cuts – that with all the requirement to decide who wins and who loses would amount to a dramatic repositioning of his government.
But can he really do that as a temporary figurehead?
Surely this sort of decision would need the endorsement of the next prime minister whose identity will not be known possibly until September.
In ordinary times, any government that agreed to hold off for months from making the biggest positions at stake would be treated as an aberration.
But, we are currently playing a critical role in a hideous conflict in Russia.
There is a cost of living crisis the likes of which hasn’t been seen in many decades.
We are in the middle of a high stakes battle with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol with the EU unlikely to engage until they know the successor – but decisions about the progress of legislation required before then.
Can we really have a “do nothing” government until September or October?
For all of these reasons, Tory MPs must decide whether Boris Johnson’s preferred departure timetable can hold.
There are bigger questions than the dignity and feelings of the outgoing PM.