Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Johnson says it would be ‘crazy’ to resign if Tories lose by-elections

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (PA)

Boris Johnson has suggested it would be “crazy” for him to resign if the Conservatives are dealt a double blow by losing two key by-elections this week.

The Prime Minister played down the Tories’ chances as they seek to defend the seats of Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton in two scandal-triggered votes on Thursday.

Defeat in both constituencies against the backdrop of the partygate scandal and a cost-of-living crisis would further raise the nerves of Tory MPs, 148 of whom recently voted no confidence in Mr Johnson’s leadership.

Wakefield in West Yorkshire was part of the “red wall” of former Labour strongholds seized by the Tories that propelled the Prime Minister to an 80-seat majority in the 2019 general election.

The other battleground, in Devon, was last won by the Tories with a majority with more than 24,000 votes, but the Liberal Democrats are hopeful of their chances.

But Mr Johnson, who will be on an official visit to Rwanda when the results roll in on Friday, was defiant that he would not be quitting if both are lost.

“Are you crazy?” he told reporters travelling with him to Kigali when prospects of his departure was raised.

Mr Johnson added: “Come on, it was only a year ago that we won the Hartlepool by-election, that everybody thought was… you know, we hadn’t won Hartlepool for, I can’t remember when the Tory party last won Hartlepool – a long time. I don’t think it ever had.

“Governing parties generally do not win by-elections particularly not in mid-term. You know, I’m very hopeful, but you know, there you go. That’s just the reality.”

The last time a Government lost two by-elections on the same day was more than 30 years ago when Tory prime minister John Major was dealt a double defeat.

Under current Conservative rules, Mr Johnson is safe from a new vote in his leadership for a year.

He declined to directly comment on suggestions that the Tory 1922 Committee could change the rules to allow a challenge sooner.

“I’m focused entirely on delivering on the agenda of this government. My golden rule is the less you talk about Westminster issues, the more you talk about the things you want to talk to the country about,” Mr Johnson said.

Tiverton and Honiton has been held by the Tories since its creation in 1997, but Conservative Neil Parish resigned earlier this year after admitting watching pornography in Parliament.

Wakefield had voted Labour continuously from 1932 until 2019 when it was won for the Conservatives by Imran Ahmad Khan.

But Mr Khan resigned in disgrace earlier this year after being convicted for sexually assaulting a boy.