Johnson ‘absolutely will be PM’ even if local election results are dismal

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Boris Johnson will “absolutely” still be leader after the local elections no matter how dismal the results are for the Tories, a Cabinet member has insisted.

Kwasi Kwarteng said the Prime Minister’s leadership is not “at threat at all” as voters go to the polls with a new scandal of a porn-watching Conservative on top of partygate.

There were reports that former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt could launch a leadership bid if Mr Johnson is forced from power in the wake of Thursday’s elections.

Neil Parish
Neil Parish (UK Parliament/PA)

Conservative MP Neil Parish announced his resignation on Saturday as he admitted twice watching pornography in the House of Commons.

The fresh embarrassment came as activists canvas for votes for a Tory party led by a Prime Minister fined by police for breaching his own coronavirus laws.

Mr Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “I don’t think his leadership is at threat at all, what he’s delivered is really a remarkable series of successes.

“I think Brexit, he delivered on that, the fact he was very widely appreciated in Ukraine, he’s been widely hailed as someone who has led the overseas effort to help Ukraine and also look at the vaccine rollout, that was a great bit of success.”

Keir Starmer
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Pressed whether no matter what happens in the polls Mr Johnson is safe, he replied “absolutely”.

The Mail on Sunday reported that allies of Mr Hunt, who was also a longstanding health secretary, is ready to brand himself a “safe pair of hands” if the time comes to run for the Tory leadership.

Mr Kwarteng said: “Jeremy is a very capable colleague, he’s a good friend, I don’t know what he’s up to but as far as I’m concerned Boris Johnson is the right man by far to lead us into the next election.”

Mr Hunt, who was the strongest opponent to Mr Johnson when he won the leadership in 2019, has previously said how his ambition to lead the Tories has not “completely vanished”.

Polls in 200 local authorities across Britain open on Thursday, in a chance for voters to register their disapproval or their support for the Prime Minister.

Sir Keir Starmer will also be under pressure, as a failure to make inroads will lead to questions over his ability to deliver Labour back to power.

Mr Johnson will hope voters prioritise his perceived successes, such as the vaccine rollout and Brexit, rather than the lockdown breaches and tax hikes amid a cost-of-living crisis.

He also released a statement trying to focus minds on bins, potholes and local councillors rather than national politics.

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