(Bloomberg) -- Embattled UK leader Boris Johnson said he plans to stick around as prime minister for a third term until the mid-2030s, an act of defiance in the face of mounting political defeats and pressure within his own Conservative Party.
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Earlier this month, Johnson survived a leadership challenge and there is growing speculation that another confidence vote is being hatched in the wake of twin by-election defeats. But Johnson, speaking to reporters in Rwanda before heading to a Group of Seven leaders summit in Germany, made clear that he has no intention of stepping aside.
If anything he’s clinging on. With the next elections expected to be in 2024, he was asked by reporters in Rwanda if he wanted to serve a second term to 2029. According to the Press Association, this was his response: “At the moment I am thinking actively about the third term and you know, what could happen then . . . this is the mid-2030s.”
His answer came after the chairman of the Conservatives, Oliver Dowden, resigned his post following the party’s loss of two key parliamentary seats on Thursday night.
That has prompted some Tory Members of Parliament to consider standing for election to the influential backbench 1922 committee, in order to change the rules and allow a fresh vote of confidence in Johnson’s leadership.
Asked on Sunday if he was being delusional by talking about staying on as prime minister into the next decade, Johnson said: “What I’m saying is this is a government that is getting on with delivering for the people of this country and we’ve got a huge amount to do.”
The “golden rule” was to “focus on what we are doing,” rather than Westminster intrigue, he said.
At the moment, Johnson is safe for a year -- even though four in 10 of his own MPs voted against him.
The collapse in Tory support seen in last week’s special elections in Wakefield, northern England, and Tiverton and Honiton in the southwest has renewed doubts about whether Johnson can lead the party to victory in the next general election, which is due by January 2025 at the latest.
“We often get criticized in politics that we look short term to the next election, the next vote,” Brandon Lewis, secretary of state for Northern Ireland, said on Sky News when asked about Johnson’s assertion.
“Actually we have someone as prime minister who wants to be looking long term at how we structurally improve our country for generations to come,” Lewis said. “That’s got to be a good thing.”
(Updates with more comments starting in sixth paragraph.)
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