Boris Johnson: Voters are fed up of hearing about me and I won’t change

·2 min read
Boris Johnson: Voters are fed up of hearing about me and I won’t change

Boris Johnson has said a "psychological transformation" in his character is "not going to happen" following the by-election defeats.

Oliver Dowden dramatically quit as Tory chairman on Friday, saying he was “taking responsibility” for the party’s drubbing in Wakefield and Toverton and Honiton.

Despite the resignation of Mr Dowden, who had previously been a key supporter of the Prime Minister, Mr Johnson insisted every Government gets “buffeted” by bad by-election results at mid-term.

He said his role is to look at exactly what happened and “think which criticisms really matter”.

Put to him that Oliver Dowden had resigned as Conservative chair saying business could not continue as usual, Mr Johnson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If you’re saying you want me to undergo some sort of psychological transformation, I think that our listeners would know that is not going to happen.

“What you can do, and what the Government should do, and what I want to do, is to get on with changing and reforming and improving our systems and our economy.”

He also claimed voters are tired of hearing about what “I’m alleged to have done wrong”.

On what lessons he will take from the by-election results, he said: “I draw the conclusion the voters are heartily sick of hearing about me and the things I’m alleged to have done wrong.

“What they want to hear is what we’re doing for them. And what I’m setting out for you, or trying to set out, is the ambitions we have (for) the country.”

Johnson suggested he would stand down as Prime Minister if it was put to him he had to “abandon the Ukrainian cause”.

Asked over which matters of principle he might resign, he said: “Well, for instance, I think that if our Government decided, if it was put to me that we had to abandon the Ukrainian cause because it was simply getting too difficult, and that the cost of supporting that people in their heroic fight for freedom was too great in terms of inflation, in terms of economic damage, yeah, I think I would accept that I’d lost a very important argument and I would go, but I don’t see that.”

But he later denied saying this was the only principle that would trigger such a move.

“I didn’t say that – you asked me for an example of a matter of principle, I came up with one,” he said.

This week the Tories ceded their former Devon stronghold of Tiverton and Honiton to the Liberal Democrats for the first time in the seat’s history.

In West Yorkshire, they also relinquished Wakefield to Labour after winning the seat in 2019.

Mr Johnson has acknowledged the results are “tough” but vowed to “keep going”

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