Boris Johnson vows to keep going despite double byelection defeat

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Boris Johnson vows to keep going despite double byelection defeat

Boris Johnson promised to keep going even after a double-by-election defeat and the resignation of a cabinet minister.

The prime minister said on Friday that losing the former Tory stronghold of Tiverton and Honiton to the Liberal Democrats and surrendering Wakefield to Labour was hard, but he insists he would listen to voters.

The Tories party co-chair Oliver Dowden resigned, saying that he and his supporters were distressed and disappointed by recent events. In a pointed message he pledged to the Conservative party rather than Johnson and said someone must take over the role. The prime minister, speaking to broadcasters 4,000 miles away in Rwanda, where he is attending a Commonwealth summit, thanked Dowden for his service in the role. He said he would take responsibility, but he said that the cost of living crisis was the most important thing for voters.

He said that we had some tough byelection results, but we have to recognize that voters are going through a tough time at the moment, because they ve been a reflection of a lot of things. As a government, I think that you have to listen to what people are saying, especially when it comes to the difficulties people are facing over the cost of living, which I think is the number one issue for most people.

We are seeing a spike in fuel prices, energy costs, food costs, and we are facing pressures on the cost of living. That is hitting people. We have to recognize that we have more to do and we certainly will, we will continue to address the concerns of people until we get through this patch. Johnson said the results should be examined in light of Covid and the cost of living crisis, and that he was asked if the defeat was due to his leadership.

I don't want to minimise the importance of what people are saying, but it is also true that in mid-term government post-war elections, if you look back to last May, the truly astonishing thing was that we managed to win Hartlepool in very different circumstances, he said.

What we need to do is reflect on where voters are. They are basically feeling that we came through Covid well and we took a lot of the right decisions there. Before boarding a plane for Kigali on Wednesday night, the prime minister said he should quit if he lost both votes as crazy. Government parties generally don't win byelections, especially not in the mid-term. I am very hopeful, but you know, there you go. Asked to confirm that he was not considering his future, he replied: Are you crazy? The deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, said that the government needed to listen very carefully to the results, but that factors such as the distractions of Downing Street parties had hampered its message.

Raab told BBC Radio 4 s Today that we have an incredibly positive agenda and that we stepped in for Dowden, who had been due to take on the morning broadcast round before he resigned. The problem is that we have too many distractions, they are well rehearsed, and what we need to do is two years in which we focus on the cost of living, the economy, reforms that we are making. Johnson is expected to hold a meeting with Prince Charles on Friday morning, his first since the heir to the throne was widely reported as criticising the UK's asylum deal with Rwanda.

Johnson will also be at the official start of the Commonwealth heads of government meeting, along with Charles, who will open the event.