Here’s a roundup of today’s politics news and developments.
- Boris Johnson has said that he won’t undergo “some sort of psychological transformation” in response to criticism from parts of his party after two byelection defeats on Friday.
- Johnson refused to give examples of when he would consider resigning, beyond public and political appetite for supporting the Ukrainian government during the conflict with Russia.
- Foreign secretary Liz Truss has said she has “100%” faith in the prime minister, as does the cabinet.
- The third day of rail strikes this week have got underway, meaning about a fifth of normal services are running.
- RMT general secretary Mick Lynch has said transport secretary Grant Shapps should “tone down the rhetoric” and “get on with the job”.
- An opinion poll of 2,000 people, conducted before the strike action took place, backed the RMT and three out of five people said the government should intervene to get a settlement.
- Its assistant director general Eddie Dempsey told a rally at King’s Cross station in London that current proposals will mean rail workers would have to accept “being poor, losing jobs and protecting profits of private companies.”
- The number of people who have arrived in Britain in small boats from the French coast has now reached more than 12,000. According to the Ministry of Defence, 231 people arrived on Friday in five boats.
- Boris Johnson planned to spend £150,000 on buying a treehouse for his son Wilf at Chequers, according to a story in the Times.
That’s all for today, thank you for following along. Enjoy the rest of your Saturday, and if you’ve not had your fill of live blogs, a reminder that our Glastonbury live coverage continues.
Eddie Dempsey, assistant director general of the RMT, has told the protest outside King’s Cross that the insistence from train operating companies and the government that they must “modernise” means accepting being poor and job losses.
We are being told in our industry that we must modernise and when they say we must modernise what they mean is we must be poor, we must lose our jobs and we must do that to protect the profits of private companies that have been robbing the British people for years.
Enough is enough.
We think modernisation means you go to work and get paid a wage you can live on.
Our society is broken, our economy is broken and we are the people who are going to fix it.
We say that if you are working class in this country, you deserve a house you can live in, a wage you can take care of your family on and protections when you get old.
A cost-of-living protest has been held in Northern Ireland over “spiralling costs”, kicking off a six-month campaign in the run-up to Christmas.
At noon on Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators assembled at the main gate to the Stormont Estate, and marched up to Parliament Buildings for the demonstration organised by the Northern Ireland committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).
Assistant general secretary of ICTU Owen Reidy told PA Media that wages and state supports were already behind where they needed to be before the inflation crisis hit.
He said: “Forget about this year – over the last decade wages have fallen behind in Northern Ireland. If you look at inflation in the Republic it’s about 7%, but it’s about 9.1% across the UK, and they reckon it’s going to go to about 11.1% before the year is out.
“Teachers, civil servants, other public sector workers are going to be lodging pay claims over the next number of weeks and months, and private sector workers at firm level are trying to bargain with their employers.
“But again, you have to have a government in Westminster that cares and is interested, and quite frankly, they’re not, and you have to have an Executive that’s able to respond.”
Sinn Féin secured a historic victory in last month’s assembly elections, emerging as the largest party in Northern Ireland for the first time.
However, the DUP has blocked attempts to restore the power-sharing Stormont assembly or to form an executive as part of its protest against the protocol, which has created a trade border in the Irish Sea in order to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.
As the RMT rally continues in London (see 14:52), a recap of the union president Mick Lynch’s comments about transport secretary Grant Shapps earlier.
Earlier he said that Shapps should “tone down the rhetoric and get on with his job”.
Lynch’s comments came as 24-hour rail strikes entered a third day, causing major disruption on train services across Great Britain.
The transport secretary had accused the union of telling a “total lie” over claims he was “wrecking” negotiations by refusing to allow Network Rail to withdraw redundancy threats.
The RMT rally is under way outside King’s Cross station in central London, with a crowd of trade union supporters turning out.
Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP and former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott criticised the Labour party for not showing more support for railway workers in the dispute.
She said: “I do not understand the argument that Labour should not be here because we are not meant to pick a side. I thought when you join Labour, you are picking a side, on the working-class side.”
RMT president Alex Gordon also backed an end to outsourcing to private companies, from the stage outside the train station.
“Victory to the cleaners,” he said.
Other speakers include the comedian and actor Rob Delaney.
The former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been seen at a similar protest in Newcastle, alongside the film director Ken Loach.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen is now speaking to Sky News. He has said he will run to become part of the 1922 Committee, which governs the parliamentary party of the Tories, in a bid to get the rules changed to allow another confidence vote on Boris Johnson’s leadership.
He’s asked by Sky how likely it is the cabinet will tell Johnson he needs to go.
“The cabinet will come to their own decisions, but the Conservative party needs to have integrity, courage and show leadership and I’m not seeing a lot of that from the cabinet at the moment. So the only other way is to change the rules of the 1922 Committee.”
Bridgen says a vote could take place in a fortnight, and if there are enough supporters within the committee of his proposals, then another confidence vote could take place. He says that the Conservatives should be prioritising a route to smaller government, cost savings and reducing taxes.
“The longer [Johnson] is in office, the more damage he will do to the party and to the country and for a large part of the population that is unacceptable.
“The prime minister has lost the trust of a huge swathe of our electorate and a lot of Conservative voters. They don’t have to switch over to the Labour party ... but Conservative voters can just put Labour in by stopping at home and refusing to come out and vote and that’s what we saw in those two byelections. We can’t have that threat hanging over the country when we can avoid it.
“Changing the rules of the 1922 Committee or even threatening it, is something Boris Johnson did for Theresa May.”
As ever, politicians are being spotted at the Glastonbury festival. Andy Burnham did a roundtable discussion earlier today on “politics in crisis”, which was chaired by the Guardian’s John Harris.
Manchester mayor Burnham told the audience at the Left Field stage: “Britain needs to gets rid of the old ways, get around a table and agree a programme for political change, a collaborative spirit. Then we’ll have a progressive government at the next general election.”
He added: “Good, safe housing should be a general rule in this country. Social care should be provided on NHS terms. And we need to renationalise rail and buses.” He also referenced the “silent mental health crisis – brought about by the nature of life now where people are worrying themselves to sleep”.
Environmental activist Greta Thunberg will address festivalgoers from the Pyramid stage at just after 5pm today.
The festival has had memorable visits from politicians in recent years. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed crowds in 2017 at “peak Corbyn” weeks after losing in the general election, where crowds sang his name.
A year earlier his former deputy Tom Watson was pictured at a train station, worse for wear, as the Labour party launched into an internal war after the Brexit vote.
Further back Billy Bragg gave a tour to a future London mayor and prime minister in 2000, as Boris Johnson visited while doing a piece for the Spectator. Not the likeliest of festival couples.
Bragg told the festival newspaper the Glastonbury Free Press: “It just goes to show you have to be careful who you elevate to positions of celebrity. Then, he was that guy off Have I Got News For You.”
My colleagues over at Worthy Farm are liveblogging the performances and festival goings-on today. You can follow them here.
Boris Johnson would not give a figure by which Channel crossings need to come down before it is known the Rwanda migrant policy has worked, PA Media reported.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today:
I’m not going to give you a figure.
He said the “humane policy” is about “breaking the business model of those who criminally abuse and cheat people crossing the Channel in unseaworthy vessels”.
Liverpool Labour MPs Ian Byrne, Dan Carden, Kim Johnson and Paula Barker joined a rally in support of the RMT outside the city’s Lime Street station.
Addressing the crowd, Byrne said: “It is a privilege to be able to speak today, show my solidarity to the RMT striking membership and thank this magnificent union for everything they have done for our class this week.”
He said a photograph of himself and other Labour MPs on a picket line earlier this week, which was published on the front page of the Daily Mail newspaper, now has “pride of place” in his office.
The Liverpool West Derby MP said: “We must use this moment to begin to rebalance the scales of injustice which is waged against the working class.
“This is the moment when the country is saying ‘enough is enough’.”
The former editor of the Daily Telegraph Charles Moore, has penned a column for the newspaper (paywall) on Boris Johnson’s leadership, saying he is lacking direction.
Moore has been a staunch supporter of Johnson, who made him a peer in 2020. He also hired the future prime minister as a young journalist at the Spectator magazine.
He predicts that economically the “worst times” are returning. He says that with a litany of problems facing the government, including the cost-of-living crisis, there is little confidence that Johnson has what it takes to lead the country through it.
It is not that Boris today is inactive. He speaks, he travels, he launches initiatives and puts on a variety of hats and hi-vis jackets to show his engagement with workers and public services. But because he has not entered a postcode into his political satnav, colleagues do not know his direction. Does he?
More than 12,000 people have crossed Channel in small boats in 2022
The number of people who have arrived in Britain in small boats from the French coast has now reached more than 12,000.
According to the Ministry of Defence, 231 people arrived on Friday in five boats. That means that the number of people who have arrived since 1 January is 12,159, according to PA Media.
Boris Johnson was asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme earlier, what numbers he would use to judge the effectiveness of the policy to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. He said he wouldn’t give figures but argued it was a “humane policy”.
The busiest week for crossings was 11-17 April when 1,792 were brought to shore. They have continued since the announcement of Priti Patel’s deportation plans. The first flight, scheduled to leave on 14 June, was cancelled at the last minute after an order from the European court of human rights.
Former deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine has been speaking to LBC’s late morning show, presented by Matt Frei, about the current situation inside the Conservative party.
Unsurprisingly for Heseltine, who has been a vocal supporter of the UK’s membership of the EU, Brexit features heavily. However he says that perhaps a lost election is needed for the party to regroup.
“Brexit is a disaster and every day it becomes clearer that it is a disaster and there are divisions inside the Conservative party, that a lost election might do something to heal.
“The Conservatives have got to get back to the position that was established by Churchill, carried on by Harold Macmillan, Ted Heath, Margaret Thatcher and John Major of making this country be a major, respected player in the new Europe.”
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has tweeted this morning about today’s rail strike, repeating his belief that the railways need to abandon “outdated” practices in the modern age.
A Labour MP has donated £2,000 to the RMT’s strike fund, ahead of a rally later today.
Nadia Whittome, who represents Nottingham East, will speak at a demonstration later and joined the picket line on Thursday outside the city’s station.
Whittome has previously donated part of her salary to the IWGB couriers union, and the app driver and couriers union, as well as charities, not-for-profit groups and grassroots organisations.
She said: “Rail strikers are leading the way for workers in the cost-of-living crisis – demanding decent pay and conditions to keep up with the cost of soaring inflation.
“When workers go on strike they don’t get paid. So this money will help to ensure that no one faces hardship as a result of standing up for themselves at work.”
A majority of people think that the government should intervene in the rail strike, in a poll carried out for the RMT by Opinium.
Its survey of 2,000 people found less than one in five people support cuts to staff on trains and stations, and 70% believe that rail workers should get a negotiated pay rise that takes into account the cost of living.
Three out of five said the government should intervene to ensure rail companies meet workers’ concerns, PA Media reports. The poll was carried out between 10 June and 14 June, before this week’s strikes were held.
The RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said: “This poll supports the evidence we’ve seen on the picket lines this week. There is strong support for rail workers to receive a fairer deal and for the government to intervene to address rail workers’ concerns.
“There is also massive public opposition to plans to cut thousands of track, train, and station jobs, and to the government’s policy of allowing profiteering from the rail industry.
“It’s time the government listened to the public instead of picking political fights with rail workers.”
As the unhappiness inside the Conservative party continues after their byelection defeats on Friday, some of the party’s MPs are blaming the women who reported Neil Parish for watching pornography in the Commons chamber.
The i reports one saying: “Parish shouldn’t have resigned.
“He should have just gone away with his wife for a few weeks and then come back to the job. I don’t know why the girls had to speak out like that.”
Another suggested the witnesses would “feel like a turd in the swimming pool”.
On Johnson, a Tory MP said: “It’s like a disease. The prime minister is infecting the cabinet, and if the Tory party doesn’t act in the next six months we will all be infected by him.”
Foreign secretary has '100%' support for PM after byelection defeats
Foreign secretary Liz Truss has told reporters in Rwanda that she has full confidence in Boris Johnson.
She told reporters that “we need to keep going at this difficult time for the world”.
She added: “The reality is that incumbent governments often lose byelections and often people want to send a message in a byelection to raise concerns with the government.
“But that doesn’t make byelection results the predictor of election outcomes, it hasn’t been the predictor in the past and I don’t believe it will be the predictor of the next general election.”
Pollster Peter Kellner has written for the Guardian today on how the Conservative party “can’t outrun tactical voting”.
The Lib Dems won in Tiverton and Honiton where Labour finished second in 2019, and Ed Davey’s party languished in third place, with less than 15% of the vote.
Tactical voting is now back with a vengeance. Keir Starmer is palatable to most Liberal Democrats, while Labour supporters accept that Ed Davey and the Lib Dems have moved on from the days when they voted for Tory austerity measures.
He goes on to say that tactical voting could be crucial in getting Labour into government. In 1997 it meant 30 Tory MPs lost their seats.
Kellner, a former president of YouGov, wrote a blog recently on how Labour needs to appeal to both its traditional “red wall” voter and its more recently prevalent, urban metropolitan voter to get into power - and how that appeal is possible, not exclusionary.
In response to Boris Johnson’s interviews this morning, the Liberal Democrats, fresh and buoyed by their byelection victory in Tiverton and Honiton, have said “this leopard has no intention of changing their spots”. Earlier he said that he had no intention of undergoing a “psychological transformation”.
The party’s deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “People in Tiverton and Honiton made it crystal clear that they, like the rest of Britain, want to show Boris Johnson the door.
“[He] has now admitted that this leopard has no intention of changing his spots
“Johnson’s premiership and his reputation is in tatters. If he doesn’t have it in him to do the right thing and resign, Conservative MPs must give him the sack.”
Boris Johnson has said he is not going to undergo any “psychological transformation” as pressure is piled on his leadership following the Conservatives’ double byelection defeat.
The prime minister said he must “humbly and sincerely” accept any criticism he received in his job, but argued every government was “buffeted” by bad byelection results mid-term.
His comments came amid claims of new attempts from backbench MPs seeking to unseat him after losing the two byelections in Wakefield and in Tiverton and Honiton and the resignation of his party co-chair Oliver Dowden. Reports have claimed that some MPs are seeking to change 1922 Committee rules so they can hold another vote of confidence.
An interesting story in the Times (paywall) this morning, that Boris Johnson planned to spend £150,000 on buying a treehouse for his son Wilf at Chequers.
The newspaper has been told that the PM and his wife, Carrie, wanted to build the treehouse in autumn 2020, and it would have been financed by Lord Brownlow.
Brownlow was the peer who paid £58,000 towards the controversial refurbishment of the Johnson’s Downing Street flat.
The project was apparently cancelled after security concerns were raised by police.
A lot of train services will be finishing early tonight because of the strikes, despite big events including concerts for Ed Sheeran, Rolling Stones and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers taking place in London.
The last Great Northern train will leave London at 8.05pm and similar services from Southern leaving London Bridge and London Victoria will finish at the same time.
Greater Anglia trains will end at 5.30pm.
Boris Johnson also appeared on Sky News this morning. A lot of what he was asked, and said, was similar to his comments to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
However he said that politics, including his party’s two defeats on Thursday in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton was part of politics allowing people the “safety valve of letting off at governments”, he told Beth Rigby.
Inevitably when you’re the head of a government that’s taking the country through a big inflationary price spike caused by the increasing cost of energy, people are frustrated.
What I’m saying is politics is about allowing people to have the democratic safety valve of letting off at governments, such as in byelections. But then the job of a leader is to say, well, what is the criticism that really matters here?
Johnson also said that there was a risk of pressure being placed on Ukraine to accept a “bad peace” due to the disruption to the global economy caused by Russia’s invasion and the ensuing conflict.
I think the risk is that people will fail to see that it is vital to stand up against aggression ... if Putin gets away with aggression in Ukraine, if he gets away with the naked conquest of other people’s territory, then the read across for every single country here is absolutely dramatic.
A quick pivot back to the rail strikes that are in their final day this week, the third time in the last seven days that RMT workers have taken industrial action on national rail services.
The union’s general secretary, Mick Lynch, was speaking to Sky News Breakfast this morning. He would not rule out further strike action this summer as talks with the rail companies continue.
There was hope that “progress” had been made, although many of the same changes proposed by the train operating companies remained as part of their demands – and job cuts still remain.
We’ve got to be very cautious about what they call progress.
They may be progressing their agenda, but it doesn’t mean that our members are going to accept those changes, just because the company wants them, so we’ve got to work that problem through with them.
So it’s likely unless we get a lot of movement provided by the government that the companies can change their stance that there will be more action, yes.
He said he could not say when they would take place, and strikes need to have at least two weeks’ notice.
We won’t hesitate to use more industrial action if we can’t reach an agreement or if the companies carry through their threats to make people redundant.
On to the Rwanda policy, as Johnson is speaking from Kigali. He says that the deportation policy is driven by a “horror” at scenes in the Channel and it aims at breaking the business model of traffickers.
“One of our distinguished civil servants thinks that people are deterred at Calais, but it is early days and there’s a long way to go. The policy attracts a significant amount of legal opposition.”
He is asked what he said to Prince Charles, who is reported to have expressed opposition to the policy.
“I’m not going to get into conversations with the heir to the throne ... but we had a good long conversation about a load of things. What I can tell you, is that he said it himself, he said it yesterday, is that Rwanda is extraordinary. This is a country that was in the absolute depths of psychic hell in 1994, in recent memory, I remember colleagues, journalists going off to cover this, what an absolute nightmare it was.”
He says that UK journalists saw accommodation that will be used for refugees, yesterday, and were “impressed” and points out other countries including Denmark and the US have similar policies.
And that’s it from the Today interview.
Husain asks how it’s fair or right that the top civil servant in the country, Simon Case, asked about job opportunities for Carrie Johnson.
“I think that the worst thing I could possibly do is get into conversations about my family, my private life.
“It’s also about a choice, which is, do we focus on personalities, do we focus on Johnson leadership, or do we focus on the things that we are doing for the country, and BBC, I humbly submit to you that this is the time, where I think lots and lots of people, fascinated as they may be by the personal questions you raise, actually they want us as a government and want me to focus on our agenda and get it done,” Johnson says.
Johnson insists he didn’t mislead the house, when Mishal points out he didn’t resign after doing so, while asking what else would have to happen for him to consider resigning.
“What’s happened is I have got a renewed mandate from my colleagues and I will continue to deliver. I can see and I accept that people are having it tough.
“I draw the conclusion that voters are heartily sick of hearing about me and the things I am alleged to have done wrong. What they want to hear is what we’re doing for them. What I’m trying to set out is the ambitions we have for the country, to tackle the cost of living and for a stronger economy.”
Mishal said Johnson’s mandate “for change” is falling apart, with the Wakefield byelection loss, as well as others in Shropshire and Amersham since the party’s last victory in Hartlepool in 2021. She refers to a potential change in the 1922 Committee rules which could see Johnson face another confidence vote, after winning one last month.
Johnson claims that the only suggestion being made is about going back into the EU single market. When Husain mentions Lord Geidt, who resigned over concerns with the government and Johnson’s direction, he refers to a disagreement about steel tariffs.
She asks if he thinks leadership is about morality and if there are any circumstances in which he would resign.
He says: “Of course I think it is [about morality]. If it was put to me we had to abandon the Ukrainian cause because it was getting too difficult and the cost of supporting that people was too great in terms of inflation, economic damage, I would accept I had lost a very important argument and I would go. But I don’t see that.”
Husain asks why the government isn’t following through with promises made during the Brexit referendum about cutting or removing VAT from energy bills, which would bring costs down.
Johnson replies: “We are a sensible government Mishal, and the British public understand this and I don’t think they are amnesiac that a couple of years ago we were spending £408bn to support people during the pandemic, they know that we have to be sensible about the way we approach it.
“Cutting taxes on families is a way to stimulate growth and that’s one of the dividing lines in politics. I’m very happy to have arguments about tax. When it comes to energy, and the cost of people’s energy bills, tax is not enough. You’ve got to look at the way the whole thing works. At the moment, one of the problems is, people are being charged for their electricity prices on the basis of the top marginal gas price, and that is frankly ludicrous, we need to get rid of that system and reform energy markets as other countries in Europe have done.
“It’s only through reform that you can bear down on costs.”
Johnson says that fuel duty has been cut, but does not respond to Husain’s question about whether further cuts will be made. The Today presenter says that current cuts have been swallowed up by wider cost of living increases.
“We’re cutting fuel duty,” he says. “There may be more that we have to do. You have to look at the whole way the energy market works.”
Husain interjects as Johnson goes off point. She tells him that a huge portion of petrol prices goes to the Treasury. “There may be more things we can do,” he says. “People know that we are doing a huge amount with the fiscal firepower that we have to support them right now, to put £1,200 into the most vulnerable households, next July, coming into people’s bank accounts, there’s talk about tax, a cut in national insurance worth an average of £330 coming in for 30 million people just next month as well.
“We are cutting taxes, we cut council tax, we are cutting taxes where we can.”
PM dismisses idea of 'psychological transformation' on his part
Husain asks whether Johnson is approaching the byelection defeats with an attitude of “more of the same” rather than admitting he needs to change.
“If you are saying you want me to undergo some sort of psychological transformation, your listeners know that is not going to happen,” he says.
“I want to get on with changing and reforming our systems and economy. If we’re going to have an argument about politics, let’s have an argument about how the railways run, that is a subject of engrossing fascination for people up and down the country because of the rail strikes.”
Boris Johnson is on the Today programme from Kigali speaking to presenter Mishal Husain.
He thanks Oliver Dowden for his work as party chairman, before his resignation yesterday.
“I’ve got to take responsibility for everything that happens on my watch, and accept humbly and sincerely all the criticism you get in a job like mine.”
He talks about being “buffeted” in mid-term byelection results. “My job is to look at exactly what has happened and which criticisms matter and what I need to learn.”
Johnson says that voters were “fed up” of hearing about news about “things they thought I shouldn’t have been doing, and things I got wrong”, which is perhaps an oblique reference to Partygate. He says that they want to hear about policies and what the government is doing.
“We’ve got to get the focus on all the things we are doing to take the country forward,” he adds.
Analysis: PM's rebels see opportunities
While Boris Johnson was in Rwanda, having an early-morning swim in the luxurious pool of the conference hotel, his Tory critics were already planning another go at ousting him.
The backbench plotters had previously been despondent about the prospects of kicking Johnson out after he narrowly won a confidence vote of his MPs and the cabinet rallied round him.
But they have been given fresh hope of removing him in the coming weeks because of renewed anger and incredulity among Tory MPs about the disastrous byelection results, as well as the scandal over attempts to get a government job for his then girlfriend and now wife, Carrie Johnson. “It’ll be a random walk, but we’ll get there erelong,” said one former cabinet minister cheerfully.
Johnson’s No 10 aides insist he still has scope to turn things around by being “humble” and accepting that more needs to change while not “over-panicking” about midterm results. However, there was evidence on Friday that even some of Johnson’s erstwhile backers believe his time may soon be up. “It wouldn’t do him any harm if he wanted to look in the mirror. He needs to ask himself: have I got the stomach for this, and am I going to be able to do this. Is it me?” said one Tory MP and grandee who has been supportive of the prime minister up until now.
Tory critics of Johnson had been looking at the autumn as the next moment when he may be in danger, the point when the privileges committee reports on whether he lied to parliament and therefore broke the ministerial code. However, the rebels now believe there may now be two other routes in the short term. The first, that many are holding out hope for, is a cabinet or senior ministerial walkout, after Oliver Dowden resigned as chair of the Conservatives with a hint that others should realise the party could not “carry on with business as usual”.
'Go now!': what the papers say
The crisis engulfing Boris Johnson’s premiership could be reaching the terminal stage, judging by the press reaction to the Tories’ humiliating double byelection losses in Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton.
The Daily Telegraph, the traditional voice of the Conservative party, carries a splash with the headline “Tory rebels plot next move to unseat PM”, and reports that the prime minister’s “enemies to push for control of 1922 Committee after byelection defeats”.
The Times has a very similar lead story under the headline “PM faces new Tory threat” and quotes one minister as saying that some disgruntled ministers facing the sack in a forthcoming government reshuffle could resign and lead “pre-emptive strikes” against Johnson.
The Mirror says “Go now”, echoing the call of former Tory leader Michael Howard that the party would be “better off” if Johnson resigned.
Pressure mounts on Johnson
Good morning and welcome to our live UK political coverage as the fallout from the Conservatives’ double byelection defeat continues.
The former Conservative leader Michael Howard was among those who demanded the prime minister stand down after the losses in Tiverton and Honiton and Wakefield, which prompted the immediate resignation of the party’s co-chair, Oliver Dowden.
In his pointed resignation letter, widely regarded as a call to others to act, Dowden told the prime minister: “We cannot carry on with business as usual. Someone must take responsibility.”
And Johnson faces unrest on the backbenches too, with MPs hoping to secure a majority on the executive of the influential 1922 Committee, in the hope they can change the party’s rules to allow a fresh confidence vote without waiting for a year.
The prime minister, who is currently in Rwanda, will be speaking to the BBC’s Today programme shortly. We’ll bring you coverage of that, as well as all the rest of the day’s political news – and coverage of the ongoing rail strikes around the country.