Boris Johnson insists he won't undergo 'psychological transformation'

Despite being six thousand miles from home in Rwanda, Boris Johnson is unable to escape the fallout of his party's by-election defeats, as Daniel Hewitt reports

Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted he is not going to undergo any “psychological transformation” as pressure piles on his leadership following the Tories’ double by-election defeat.

He said he must “humbly and sincerely” accept any criticism he receives in his job, but argued every government gets “buffeted” by bad by-election results mid-term.

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

The Tory leader has also urged Conservative MPs plotting to oust him not to focus on the issues he has “stuffed up” after his authority was diminished following the by-election results.

He insisted the “endless churn” of allegations is “driving people nuts”, as he pushed on with his Rwanda trip despite suggestions further ministerial resignations could follow.

Put to him that Oliver Dowden had resigned as Conservative chair saying business could not continue as usual, Mr Johnson told the BBC: “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.”

Amid the criticism, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss this morning expressed her support for Mr Johnson, telling ITV News' Daniel Hewitt: "He’s doing an excellent job and we need to keep going at this very difficult time for the world”.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss expressed her support for the PM after she was asked if she agreed with Boris Johnson that he had "stuffed up" over partygate.

Responding to the prime minister's "psychological transformation" comments, a senior Lib Dem MP said Mr Johnson has admitted “this leopard has no intention of changing his spots”.

The party’s deputy leader, Daisy Cooper, said: “The last thing our country needs right now is for this failing prime minister to dig in his heels as every crisis gets worse on his watch.

“People in Tiverton and Honiton made it crystal clear that they, like the rest of Britain, want to show Boris Johnson the door.”

She added: “Johnson’s premiership and his reputation is in tatters. If he doesn’t have it in him to do the right thing and resign, Conservative MPs must give him the sack.”

Former Conservative leader Michael Howard yesterday urged the prime minister to resign for the good of their party and the nation, and urged the Cabinet to consider resigning to force him out.

Responding to Lord Howard's calls this morning, the prime minister said: "I have to listen to all sorts of criticism as part of my job as leader. When things are tough, of course people are rightly going to direct their frustrations - their irritation- at government and at me."

But he insisted voters want to hear less about "stuff they [don't] want to be hearing about" as he defended his leadership after suffering a double by-election defeat.

Kathryn Samson discusses the latest blows levelled at the prime minister in the wake of the two by-election losses, including reports suggesting he planned to build a £150,000 treehouse for his son at Chequers.

Speaking at the high commissioner’s residence in Kigali, Rwanda, the prime minister said: "In the last few months people in Tiverton, people in Wakefield just heard far too much about stuff they didn't want to be hearing about and not enough about what we want to do to take the country forward.

"So helping people with the cost-of-living, our plan for a stronger economy, and making sure that we continue to lead the world in standing up against Russian aggression in Ukraine.

"Those are the priorities."

Tory rebels are reportedly using the by-election defeats as the springboard for the latest attempted heave against the prime minister, with the Times reporting that opponents of Mr Johnson are planning a takeover of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers in a bid to change the rules to allow another confidence vote in his leadership.

The departure of Mr Dowden may also prompt a reshuffle in the prime minister’s top team, with reports that Priti Patel could be asked leave her home secretary role to become party chair.

The Sun also reports that Matt Hancock, who resigned the day after photographs of him kissing advisor Gina Coladangelo emerged, could potentially return to Cabinet.

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