Boris Johnson has said he is not worried about Tory MPs plotting to oust him while he is out of the country following the Conservative Party’s double by-election defeat.
Speaking at a press conference in Rwanda on Friday afternoon, the prime minister said he expected people to “continue to beat me up” but would not be “crumpled” by the losses.
Johnson is not due back in the UK for another week. The PM is in Rwanda for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, he will then travel to a meeting of the G7 in Germany and on to a Nato summit in Spain.
Asked if he was worried that Conservative MPs would be “plotting to get rid of you while you’re away”, he said: “No.”
Johnson said voters wanted a government focused on their concerns, as opposed to “political consequences in Westminster”.
He said: “There will still be some tough times ahead, no doubt people will continue to beat me up and say this or that to attack me.
“That’s fine, that’s quite right, that is the job of politicians.
“In the end, voters, journalists, they have no-one else to make their complaints to, I have to take that.”
Back home, Michael Howard, the former Conservative leader, heaped pressure on Johnson and called on the prime minister to resign.
“The party and even more importantly the country would now be better off under new leadership,” he told BBC Radio 4′s World at One.
“Members of the Cabinet should very carefully consider their positions.”
Earlier, Oliver Dowden quit the cabinet and his job as chairman of the Conservative Party.
“We cannot carry on with business as usual. Somebody must take responsibility and I have concluded that, in these circumstances, it would not be right for me to remain in office,” he said.
A swing of almost 30% from the Tories to the Liberal Democrats saw Richard Foord secure a majority of 6,144 in Tiverton and Honiton.
The vote was triggered by the resignation of Neil Parish after he was caught watching pornography in parliament.
The previous Wakefield MP, Imran Ahmad Khan, quit after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy – a crime for which he was jailed for 18 months.
Wakefield was one of the so-called red wall seats won by the Tories in the 2019 general election after being Labour since the 1930s.