David Cameron told MPs he will miss the roar of the crowd but will be “willing all of you on” as he was given a standing ovation following his final Prime Minister’s Questions.
Conservative MPs were joined by Liberal Democrat former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and a number of Labour politicians in getting to their feet and applauding Mr Cameron as he finished his final turn at the despatch box.
The outgoing PM smiled and waved to his wife Samantha, who was sat with their children in the public gallery above, as he finished his last PMQs.
Bidding farewell to his time in office, the Prime Minster said he will be eagerly watching from the backbenches and paid tribute to the work and idealism of politicians across the political divide.
He told the packed House of Commons: “I will watch these exchanges from the backbenches, I will miss the roar of the crowd, I will miss the barbs from the Opposition, but I will be willing you on.
“And when I say willing you on, I don’t just mean willing on the new prime minister at this despatch box or indeed just willing on the frontbench defending the manifesto that I helped to put together.
“But I mean willing all of you on. Because people come here with huge passion for the issues they care about, they come here with great love for the constituencies that they represent.
“And also willing on this place, because yes we can be pretty tough and test and challenge our leaders, perhaps more than some other countries, but that is something we should be proud of and we should keep at it.
“And I hope you will all keep at it and I will will you on as you do.”
Meanwhile, Danny Kinahan, the Ulster Unionist MP for South Antrim, suggested Mr Cameron could fill another leadership position once he has left Number 10.
He said: “I’m told that there are lots of leadership roles out there at the moment.
“There’s the England football team, there’s Top Gear, there’s even across the big pond a role that needs filling.”
Mr Cameron thanked Mr Kinahan for his “fascinating suggestions” which he said “sound even harder than this one, so I think I’ll pass”.
Reflecting on the power of politicians to drive through change, Mr Cameron added: “The last thing I’d say is that you can achieve a lot of things in politics, you can get a lot of things done.
“And that, in the end, the public service, the national interest, that is what it is all about.”
And, in a nod to a famous exchange he had in 2005 when he told the then prime minister Tony Blair “he was the future once”, the outgoing PM said: “Nothing is really impossible if you put your mind to it. After all, as I once said, I was the future once.”
As Mr Cameron finished his remarks, Conservative MPs got to their feet to cheer and applaud him.
The outgoing PM then smiled and waved to his wife Samantha, who was sitting in the busy public gallery with their children.
As thunderous applause rang out from the Tory benches, a number of opposition MPs, including Nick Clegg who served as deputy prime minster in the coalition, and some Labour MPs, stood and joined in the standing ovation.
The public gallery had been packed to watch Mr Cameron’s final PMQs, and they too stood and applauded.