Boris Johnson interview: PM says he won’t have ‘psychological transformation’ as Tories urge him to quit

The UK Prime Minister said that a “psychological transformation" in his character would not happen following by-election defeats

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, made the comments in response to the resignation of Conservative party chairman Oliver Dowden.

Johnson appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme following a rough couple of days for the Prime Minister which had seen two by-election defeats and renewed calls for him to step down.

Boris Johnson said that a psychological change to his character was not going to happen

What did Boris Johnson say on Radio 4?

Boris Johnson spoke to Mishal Husain on BBC Radio 4 from Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, where he is attending a summit of Commonwealth leaders.

The PM said that he "humbly and sincerely" accepts criticism but that he must also distinguish between "criticism that really matters and criticism that doesn’t".

When Johnson was asked about Dowden’s statement in his resignation letter that business could not continue as usual, the PM said: “If you’re saying you want me to undergo some sort of psychological transformation, I think that our listeners would know that is not going to happen.

“What you can do, and what the government should do, and what I want to do, is to get on with changing and reforming and improving our systems and our economy.”

Conservative party Chairman Oliver Dowden resigned following two by-election defeats

He added that voters were"fed up with hearing conversation about me" and wanted to focus on the cost of living crisis and the war in Ukraine.

Husain asked Johnson if there was anything that would make him consider resigning as Prime Minister to which he said that having to abandon Ukraine would prompt him to quit.

When asked why he didn’t quit after the vote of confidence, Johnson said: "Let’s look at this in a more cheery way, if that’s possible,"

Actually, what’s happened is that I’ve got a renewed mandate from my colleagues, and I’m going to continue to deliver."

Why is Boris Johnson facing calls to resign?

There have been claims of fresh attempts by backbenchers to remove Boris Johnson following the Conservatives’ double by-election loss on 23 June.

The Wakefield by-election saw Conservative Nadeem Ahmed lose to Labour’s Simon Lightwood 4,925 votes.

In the 2019 election Conservative Imran Ahmad Khan took control of the traditionally red wall seat from Labour’s Mary Creagh.

A by-election was called after Khan was convicted of child sexual assault and expelled from the Conservative party.

Labour leader Keir Starmer and MP Simon Lightwood celebrate their by-election win on 24 June

The Conservatives also lost the Tiverton and Honiton by-election in Devon, with their number of votes more than halving from 2019.

The Liberasl Democrat candidate Richard Foord took 53% of the vote on Friday, defeating Conservative candidate Helen Hurford.

Following these losses, Conservative party chairman Oliver Dowden quit, saying that “Somebody must take responsibility.”

In a public statement regarding the by-election defeats, Johnson said that the results were “not brilliant”, but added that he would focus on "delivering for the people of this country".

The defeat at the polls followed months of criticism of Johnson over his role in Partygate, for which he received a £50 fine, and concern regarding the cost of living crisis and rising inflation.

This month allegations surfaced that Johnson had tried to secure a senior role for his then girlfriend Carrie Symonds, who is now his wife, at the Foreign Office - on 20 June, Downing Street confirmed that it had asked The Times not to publish the story. The newspaper agreed.

On 6 June Johnson won a confidence vote, although 148 of his own MPs voted against him.