Johnson was speaking at a news conference in Rwanda hours after the Liberal Democrats overturned a 24,000 majority from the Conservative Party to win Devon’s seats in Tiverton and Honiton, while Labor reclaimed Wakefield constituency in Yorkshire. “I’m not going to pretend these are great results,” Johnson told reporters in Kigali.
“We have to listen, we have to learn.
“When people find it difficult, they send messages to politicians and politicians have to respond – that’s what we do.”
Asked if he was concerned about his fellow Conservatives’ plans to replace him while abroad, the prime minister answered bluntly: “The answer to the question is no.”
Johnson warned the public that “there is no doubt there will be tough times ahead” but claimed his government understood “how to fix our economic issues”.
The Conservative Party’s poor performance in the by-election overnight led to the resignation of Conservative Party chief Oliver Dowden, who told the prime minister: “We cannot continue business as usual.”
Former Conservative Party leader Michael Howard urged Johnson to resign for the good of their party and the nation, as he urged the Cabinet to consider resigning to force him out.
However, Culture Minister Nadine Dorries defended the prime minister, calling the findings “a reminder that we must be relentless in working to get a job done”.
She also claimed that the by-election was “useless…as an indication of anything at all”, adding that the government would “remain relentlessly focused” on providing services to the public.
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