Battered Boris Johnson defies critics by vowing to stay on as Tory leader and fight next general election

BATTERED Boris Johnson has defied his critics by vowing to stay on as Tory leader and fight the next general election.

He brushed off his most torrid spell as PM after Partygate and Wallpapergate and promised to be there to guide the country to “much, much better” times.

Told that some MPs feel he has little else to offer after delivering Brexit and defeating Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour Party, he retorted: “What nonsense. I can imagine there may be people who wish to see this. I don’t know who.

“But I’m afraid I am going to have to disappoint them.”

In an interview with The Sun on Sunday, he insisted he was bristling with energy and determined to crack on with the task of “levelling up the country”.

Mr Johnson — whose wife Carrie gave birth to her second child last week — said: “I think the UK is the greatest place on Earth and being Prime Minister is probably the greatest job I could ever do.

“I also think that not only will this Christmas be better than last but next year is going to be much, much better and there’s a huge amount to look forward to.”

And he dismissed whispers that he was exhausted and ready to throw in the towel as nonsense, insisting that he was not a quitter and warning that he was going to disappoint those calling for his scalp.

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'Another tough week ahead'

Tory MPs have suggested the PM is looking jaded after almost two tough years tackling the Covid crisis, prompting rumours he will step down before Britain goes to the polls.

Mr Johnson was speaking after the row broke over last year’s lockdown-busting party held by Downing Street staff but before a video mocking it was leaked.

And his bold declaration suggests he is ready to stay in office until the next election, which must be held by the end of 2024.

But Tory benches are rumbling with discontent from MPs bombarded by angry emails and phone calls from party members and voters complaining about the lack of grip in No 10.

Even the new intake are in mutinous mood after a chaotic week that saw Mr Johnson slip nine points behind Labour in a poll last night.

Many fear he is in the death throes of his Premiership and some are actively trying to hasten it.

It’s not terminal for Boris yet but he needs to get a grip now, get some grown-ups into No 10 and make some big changes.

Senior Tories claim some MPs have been privately gauging support for Chancellor Rishi Sunak or Foreign Secretary Liz Truss to take over, although aides insist it is without their knowledge.

Others are threatening to demand a vote of confidence in their leader.

But backbench leader Sir Graham Brady must receive 55 letters before he can order one.

One ex-minister said: “It’s been a torrid week and support is draining away.

“It’s not terminal for Boris yet but he needs to get a grip now, get some grown-ups into No 10 and make some big changes. But if nothing happens things can only get worse.”

Another MP said: “Boris has another tough week ahead, littered with pitfalls and banana skins. If he reaches next weekend in one piece he could make it to Christmas in time to regroup for the new year. If he has another bad ’un, all bets are off.”


By David Wooding

BORIS Johnson’s fate looks to be hanging on a crucial by-election on Thursday.

Tories warn him his leadership will be under serious threat if he loses North Shropshire. It could be the final straw for many Red Wall MPs elected on tiny minorities in former Labour strongholds.

Sleaze forced the resignation of Owen Paterson, left, as the North Shropshire MP. He had a 22,949-vote majority but campaigners now have the jitters after a voter backlash.

A minister said: “A bad result and it could be curtains for Boris.”

A senior insider said: “Noises on the ground are very bad. It sounds like the by-election is 100 per cent lost.”

A campaign strategist added: “Every day we’re hearing from lifelong Conservatives furious with the PM for lying, breaking the rules and trying to cover it up. They now have an opportunity to tell Boris Johnson that the party’s over.”

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