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Boris Johnson says nobody ‘abandons privilege’ of being PM and claims new mandate to lead

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Boris Johnson has said he will not give up the “privilege” of being prime minister, insisting that the Conservatives had given him a “new mandate” to lead.

The prime minister said questions over his leadership have been “settled” despite fresh calls from Tory rebels for cabinet ministers to move against him.

Asked at the G7 summit if he had considering walking away from No 10, Mr Johnson told the BBC: “You’re asking me to talk about me and my career. I’m focused on what I’m doing as a leader of the country.”

The PM added: “That is a huge, huge privilege to do, nobody abandons a privilege like that.”

Challenged if he still had the authority to lead, an irritated Mr Johnson said: “I not only have the authority, I’ve got a new mandate from my party which I’m absolutely delighted about.”

He insisted that leadership questions had been dealt with in the confidence vote earlier this month which he won, despite 40 per cent of his MPs voting to get rid of him. “We settled that a couple of weeks ago,” he said.

Mr Johnson however fuelled anger among his critics on the backbenches with his suggestion over the weekend that far from considering standing aside he was hoping for a third term, carrying on into the 2030s.

The PM said he still had a mandate “that the electorate gave us in 2019, there hasn’t been a mandate like it for the Conservative Party for 40 years, it’s a mandate to change the country, to unite and to level up, and that’s what we’re going to do”.

Mr Johnson repeated his claim that he was comfortable with attacks from the Tory backbenches – contrasting Westminster politics with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

“We have a system that I think is, it has its downsides, of course, for those of us who act to soak up the criticism – but the criticism is vital,” he said.

Despite the resignation of Tory Party co-chairman Oliver Dowden in the wake of the by-election losses in Wakefield and in Tiverton, cabinet minister George Eustice insisted the rest of the Cabinet continued to back their leader.

“We have the support of the prime minister, the prime minister has our support, we work together and we stick together through difficult times,” he told Sky News.

Senior Tory MP William Wragg, a leading critic of Mr Johnson, called on cabinet ministers to “show a bit of backbone” and take action against the PM.

“Any of them with leadership aspirations might wish to consider this and do something about it,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today.

Fellow backbench critic Damian Green said it was “no secret that many of the people in the cabinet are setting up potential leadership campaigns”.

The former Tory minister told Channel 4: “I think if this long agony for everyone concerned, from the PM down, is to be brought to a head… then maybe somebody in the Cabinet might wish to take some action.”

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