Skip to content

Boris Johnson Says Change To His Character ‘not Going To Happen’ As Pressure Mounts Over Byelection Defeats – UK Politics Live

PM dismisses idea of ‘psychological transformation’ on his partHusain asks whether Johnson is approaching the byelection defeats with an attitude of “more of the same” rather than admitting he needs to change.

“If you are saying you want me to undergo some sort of psychological transformation, your listeners know that is not going to happen,” he says.

“I want to get on with changing and reforming our systems and economy. If we’re going to have an argument about politics, let’s have an argument about how the railways run, that is a subject of engrossing fascination for people up and down the country because of the rail strikes.”

As the unhappiness inside the Conservative party continues after their byelections defeats on Friday, some of the party’s MPs are blaming the women who reported Neil Parish for watching pornography in the Commons chamber.

The i reports one saying: “Parish shouldn’t have resigned.

“He should have just gone away with his wife for a few weeks and then come back to the job. I don’t know why the girls had to speak out like that.”

Another suggested the witnesses would “feel like a turd in the swimming pool”.

On Johnson, a Tory MP said: “It’s like a disease. The prime minister is infecting the cabinet, and if the Tory party doesn’t act in the next six months we will all be infected by him.”

Boris Johnson says he cannot pretend byelection losses are a good result – videoForeign secretary has ‘100%’ support for PM after byelection defeatsForeign secretary Liz Truss has told reporters in Rwanda that she has full confidence in Boris Johnson.

She told reporters that “we need to keep going at this difficult time for the world”.

NEW: Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tells @BethRigby and me in Rwanda that she 100% supports Boris Johnson: “he’s doing an excellent job and we need to keep going at this very difficult time for the world”. She says he has the full support of the cabinet.

— Daniel Hewitt (@DanielHewittITV) June 25, 2022 She added: “The reality is that incumbent governments often lose byelections and often people want to send a message in a byelection to raise concerns with the government.

“But that doesn’t make byelection results the predictor of election outcomes, it hasn’t been the predictor in the past and I don’t believe it will be the predictor of the next general election.”

Pollster Peter Kellner has written for the Guardian today on how the Conservative party “can’t outrun tactical voting”.

The Lib Dems won in Tiverton and Honiton where Labour finished second in 2019, and Ed Davey’s party languished in third place, with less than 15% of the vote.

Kellner says:

Tactical voting is now back with a vengeance. Keir Starmer is palatable to most Liberal Democrats, while Labour supporters accept that Ed Davey and the Lib Dems have moved on from the days when they voted for Tory austerity measures.

He goes on to say that tactical voting could be crucial in getting Labour into government. In 1997 it meant 30 Tory MPs lost their seats.

Kellner, a former president of YouGov, wrote a blog recently on how Labour needs to appeal to both its traditional “red wall” voter and its more recently prevalent, urban metropolitan voter to get into power – and how that appeal is possible, not exclusionary.

In response to Boris Johnson’s interviews this morning, the Liberal Democrats, fresh and buoyed by their byelection victory in Tiverton and Honiton, have said “this leopard has no intention of changing their spots”. Earlier he said that he had no intention of undergoing a “psychological transformation”.

The party’s deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “People in Tiverton and Honiton made it crystal clear that they, like the rest of Britain, want to show Boris Johnson the door.

“[He] has now admitted that this leopard has no intention of changing his spots

“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.”

Rajeev Syal

Boris Johnson has said he is not going to undergo any “psychological transformation” as pressure is piled on his leadership following the Conservatives’ double byelection defeat.

The prime minister said he must “humbly and sincerely” accept any criticism he received in his job, but argued every government was “buffeted” by bad byelection results mid-term.

His comments came amid claims of new attempts from backbench MPs seeking to unseat him after losing the two byelections in Wakefield and in Tiverton and Honiton and the resignation of his party co-chair Oliver Dowden. Reports have claimed that some MPs are seeking to change 1922 Committee rules so they can hold another vote of confidence.

An interesting story in the Times (paywall) this morning, that Boris Johnson planned to spend £150,000 on buying a treehouse for his son Wilf at Chequers.

The newspaper has been told that the PM and his wife, Carrie, wanted to build the treehouse in autumn 2020, and it would have been financed by Lord Brownlow.

Brownlow was the peer who paid £58,000 towards the controversial refurbishment of the Johnson’s Downing Street flat.

The project was apparently cancelled after security concerns were raised by police.

A lot of train services will be finishing early tonight because of the strikes, despite big events including concerts for Ed Sheeran, Rolling Stones and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers taking place in London.

The last Great Northern train will leave London at 8.05pm and similar services from Southern leaving London Bridge and London Victoria will finish at the same time.

Greater Anglia trains will end at 5.30pm.

Boris Johnson also appeared on Sky News this morning. A lot of what he was asked, and said, was similar to his comments to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

However he said that politics, including his party’s two defeats on Thursday in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton was part of politics allowing people the “safety valve of letting off at governments”, he told Beth Rigby.

Inevitably when you’re the head of a government that’s taking the country through a big inflationary price caused by the increasing cost of energy, people are frustrated.

What I’m saying is politics is about allowing people to have the democratic safety valve of letting off at governments, such as in byelections. But then the job of a leader is to say, well, what is the criticism that really matters here?

Johnson also said that there was a risk of pressure being placed on Ukraine to accept a “bad peace” due to the disruption to the global economy caused by Russia’s invasion and the ensuing conflict.

I think the risk is that people will fail to see that it is vital to stand up against aggression … if Putin gets away with aggression in Ukraine, if he gets away with the naked conquest of other people’s territory, then the read across for every single country here is absolutely dramatic.

Mick Lynch visits the picket line at Euston station during strikes on Thursday. Photograph: Guy Smallman/Getty ImagesA quick pivot back to the rail strikes that are in their final day this week, the third time in the last seven days that RMT workers have taken industrial action on national rail services.

The union’s general secretary, Mick Lynch, was speaking to Sky News Breakfast this morning. He would not rule out further strike action this summer as talks with the rail companies continue.

There was hope that “progress” had been made, although many of the same changes proposed by the train operating companies remained as part of their demands – and job cuts still remain.

Lynch said:

We’ve got to be very cautious about what they call progress.

They may be progressing their agenda, but it doesn’t mean that our members are going to accept those changes, just because the company wants them, so we’ve got to work that problem through with them.

So it’s likely unless we get a lot of movement provided by the government that the companies can change their stance that there will be more action, yes.

He said he could not say when they would take place, and strikes need to have at least two weeks’ notice.

We won’t hesitate to use more industrial action if we can’t reach an agreement or if the companies carry through their threats to make people redundant.

On to the Rwanda policy, as Johnson is speaking from Kigali. He says that the deportation policy is driven by a “horror” at scenes in the Channel and it aims at breaking the business model of traffickers.

“One of our distinguished civil servants thinks that people are deterred at Calais, but it is early days and there’s a long way to go. The policy attracts a significant amount of legal opposition.”

He is asked what he said to Prince Charles, who is reported to have expressed opposition to the policy.

“I’m not going to get into conversations with the heir to the throne … but we had a good long conversation about a load of things. What I can tell you, is that he said it himself, he said it yesterday, is that Rwanda is extraordinary. This is a country that was in the absolute depths of psychic hell in 1994, in recent memory, I remember colleagues, journalists going off to cover this, what an absolute nightmare it was.”

He says that UK journalists saw accommodation that will be used for refugees, yesterday, and were “impressed” and points out other countries including Denmark and the US have similar policies.

And that’s it from the Today interview.

Featured News