The Prime Minister blamed an “endless churn of news” about “things I stuffed up” for this week’s disastrous by-election defeats in Tiverton and Wakefield
Brazen Boris Johnson has told Tory MPs not to call another no confidence vote in him – claiming questions of his leadership are “settled”.
The Prime Minister blamed an “endless churn of news” about “things I stuffed up” for this week’s disastrous by-election defeats in Tiverton and Wakefield.
Just weeks ago 41% of his MPs voted to oust him. Now anger has reignited among Tories after the worst defeat in by-election history.
Yet he vowed to “get on with the job”, despite furious Tory rebels discussing changing the rules to be able to force another leadership vote within six months.
Pleading with challengers not to strike, he said: “I love my colleagues but I would urge them respectfully.
“Golden rule of politics, Johnson’s rule number one, the more we’re talking about Westminster politics the more irritating it is to the voters.”
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Asked if he’d fight to win a second no confidence vote he replied: “What?! We just had one of those things and I’m very happy to have got a bigger mandate from my parliamentary party that I got in 2019.”
This is misleading because the figure he is quoting from 2019 was between three candidates, not two.
Asked if the question was now “settled” he replied: “Yes.”
The PM also defied calls to change, telling the BBC : “If you’re saying you want me to undergo some sort of psychological transformation, I think our listeners will know that is not going to happen.”
And he indicated he thinks the issue of his ethical conduct “doesn’t matter.”
“As a leader you have to distinguish between the criticism that really matters and the criticism that doesn’t,” he told the BBC.
Mr Johnson was speaking to journalists, including the Mirror, on a trip to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda.
He said: “I think that the lesson I take from the by-elections in Tiverton and in Wakefield is very simple.
I think that actually people were fed up of hearing about things I had stuffed up or allegedly stuffed up or whatever.
“This endless, completely legitimate, but endless churn of news about one particular type of news about one type of thing.
“And they wanted me to be getting on with the job and that is what we are going to do, that is what I am going to do.”
The Tories’ majority of more than 24,000 was overturned by Lib Dems in Tiverton and Honiton – the worst defeat in by-election history.
Asked what he’d say to more than 300 Tory MPs with smaller majorities, he said: “We have to focus on the things that matter to voters, get it right on the cost of living, the economy.
“I think we have a fantastic case to make to the public when the election comes.”
The PM said it was a “reasonable question” to ask whether people had fallen out of love with him.
“But the answer is always to remember, it’s not about me, it’s about them!” he said.
“Because what’s driving people nuts is this endless churn of stuff about things that I’m meant to have stuffed up or whatever about my colleagues, their view of me, my character, the leadership, Tory blah blah.
“And what they want to hear is what’s the plan for the cost of living?
“What’s the plan for a stronger economy? What’s the plan to sort out my commute? What’s the plan to help my kids own a home, to get them the housing they need?
“What’s the plan to take the country forward? What’s the plan to take advantage of Brexit?
“And that’s the change that I think will be most welcome on the last few months. That’s, I think, what people will see.”
It came as the Prime Minister repeatedly refused to deny he had talked about building a lavish £150,0000 treehouse at his grace-and-favour country retreat.
Asked if a penny of taxpayers’ or donors’ money was spent planning a treehouse in the grounds of Chequers, Boris Johnson replied:”I’m not going to comment on non-existent objects or non existent jobs to do with my family.”
Told a story in the Times seems to be true, and asked how voters would feel about the huge spending, he replied: “I make no comment about that story, nor about your claim that it is true.”