By-election losses bite but PM pushes ahead with plans

Boris Johnson has entered a new week hoping to put two tough by-election defeats behind him as he seeks to bolster confidence in his leadership for now – if not the next decade. The Prime Minister is meeting his counterparts at the G7 summit in Germany on the latest leg of a series of international gatherings that have kept him away from the UK, as questions loom over his future.

A steel tariffs announcement is also expected in the coming days, which the Prime Minister is said to be plotting to please Labor core voters. Mr Johnson insisted the ‘rule of thumb’ is to ‘focus on what we do’ after raising eyebrows as he revealed he had ambitions to stay in office into the 2030s.

He admitted on Sunday that he had “not had time” to reflect on the biggest regret of his time as prime minister so far, saying the government’s achievements had been “remarkable”. But while he feels at home among leaders abroad, his post as prime minister in the UK is far from watertight.

The leader of the Conservative Party is facing pressure from across the political spectrum following double defeats in by-elections in Wakefield, Tiverton and Honiton, further fueled by the shock resignation of a Cabinet minister. Oliver Dowden resigned as Tory co-chair following the losses early Friday morning, saying he and Tory supporters were “distressed and disappointed by recent events”, and telling Mr Johnson that “someone has to take his responsibilities”.

According to The Telegraph, the prime minister has also been hit with a fresh wave of censure letters after revealing his aspiration to lead the country for not two, but three terms. It comes amid suggestions of a decision to change the 1922 committee rules of Tory MPs to allow another vote of confidence in Mr Johnson sometime next year.

The Prime Minister said during a trip to Rwanda this weekend that he was “actively considering” fighting the next two general elections to become the longest-serving post-war leader. Asked at the G7 summit in Germany on Sunday whether his ambitions were wild, Mr Johnson said: ‘What I’m saying is this is a government that is trying to meet the needs of the people of this country and we have done a lot.”

He said the ‘rule of thumb’ is to ‘focus on what we do’ – to meet the cost of living, the ‘massive’ plan for a stronger economy and ‘making sure the Kingdom United continues to provide the kind of leadership around the world that I know our people want”.

Labour, meanwhile, challenged the Tories to call a snap election, with leader Sir Keir Starmer telling Mr Johnson: “Go ahead.”

When asked in Rwanda if he believed questions over his leadership were settled, Mr Johnson said: “Yes”. But expressions of discontent continued to come from his own benches, with Damian Green, who chairs the One Nation caucus of Tory MPs, warning that the government ‘must change both its style and content’ and calling on Cabinet members with leadership hopefuls to show their stripes.

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