It was clear from last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions that Boris Johnson had hoped that it would be his last appearance at the Despatch Box. He referred several times to it being his last appearance and gave a final valedictory hurrah saying that whilst he was not leaving at a time of his own choosing, he was leaving with his head held high. At the end of the session he left the Chamber in deafening silence.

The government had tried hard to resist a motion of no confidence tabled by Labour, but as so often when it has tried to flout convention and precedence it ended up conceding. This requires Mr Johnson to head back to the Commons to stand up and defend his record later on today.

Meanwhile of course the Conservative Party leadership contest shows every sign of heating up rather than cooling down to swiftly produce one obvious and overwhelming candidate. Whichever permutation of the current candidates makes it through to the final round it looks as though it is going to be a long hot summer for two of therm.

So the Prime Minister’s hope of escaping further public House of Commons maulings seems to have escaped his grasp. Rather than riding off into the summer sunset Boris is having to head back twice in as many days to defend a government and a Parliamentary party that has so brutally and swiftly ejected him from No 10 after three short years in office.

Yet there are signs of life in the old dog yet. Last week he gave a spirited defence of his record and planted the moniker “Captain Crasheroonie Snoozefest” on him, with a nod and a wink to his opponent across the table of the Commons. Johnson also, rightly, made the point that many other Parliamentary colleagues – from his own party – had proved more lethal to him than the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. Nevertheless, last week’s PMQs were a damp squib and if the Boris had had to rely on that outing as his last appearance as Prime Minister, then it would have been the most downbeat way to end a premiership.

Labour had no choice but to table the motion of no confidence in the government, but it also knows it has chance of winning it. For the Conservative Parliamentary Party it may look ridiculous and feel uncomfortable for them to support the Prime Minister they have just brutally ejected from the leadership but MPs will vote as they need to. For Boris Johnson though, along with PMQs on Wednesday, it is a huge opportunity to go out with one last and mighty flourish. 

The PM can say what he likes, knowing his Parliamentary colleagues have to support him come what may. As Mrs Thatcher found in 1990 when she gave a mightily impressive Commons performances in the same political position as Boris finds himself this week, he may find that this is the best and most liberating time of his entire premiership.