Boris Johnson conceded that the result in Chesham and Amersham was, “disappointing,” but rejected the idea it shows he is alienating voters in the South of England.
Speaking to Sky News on a visit to a college in Kirklees, he said there were “particular circumstances” at play in Thursday’s byelection, though he did not specify what they were.
He claimed it was “bizarre” to accuse him of being unpopular in the South, pointing to the fact he won the London mayoral election twice, and highlighting gains for the Conservatives at last month’s local elections including in Basildon, Maidstone and Basingstoke.
“We are a great one nation party, and we will continue in our mission to unite and level up, because that is the best way to deliver jobs, prosperity, across the whole country,” he said.
The prime minister also defended his proposed planning reforms, which some Conservative MPs are pressing him to drop, after the issue featured heavily in Chesham and Amersham.
Johnson said the plans had been “misrepresented” by the party’s opponents.
“What we want is sensible plans to allow development on brownfield sites: we’re not going to build on greenbelt sites, we’re not going to build all over the countryside, but I do think that young people growing up in this country should have the chance of home ownership, and that’s what we’re focusing on.”