British PM defuses anger over third term talk
Boris Johnson attempted to present his desire for a third term only as enthusiasm about the job
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wasn’t seriously considering staying in office until “In the middle of 2030s” – instead, he was merely focused on his “Massive agenda,” he told alarmed colleagues on Sunday.
Johnson made controversial remarks about his third term and leading Rwanda into the 2030s. This was less than one month after his party lost in the by-elections. Senior conservative politicians believed he was laughing.
“My first thought was that he planned to remain until 2030.,” quipped MP Andrew Bridgen, a Tory calling for another no-confidence vote against the polarizing PM. “I’m more than happy for him to stay until 20:30. He can even stay until nine o’clock if he wants – so long as he’s gone before Parliament breaks up for summer.”
Asked on Saturday if he intended to serve a full (second) term if he won a general election, Johnson said he was “Think about the 3rd term and think of what you might do.,” promising to “When I have time, you can review it.” At the time, he doubled down on the comment, confirming it would mean staying in office until the “mid-2030s.”
On Sunday, his administration had managed to pull him away from this precipice. “What I’m saying is this is a government that is getting on with delivering for the people of this country and we’ve got a huge amount to do,” he told reporters at the G7 conference in Bavaria, citing “a massive agenda of reform and improvement, a plan for a stronger economy, whereby we have to reform our energy market, our housing market, the way our transport networks run, our public sector – we’ve got to cut the cost of government.”
However, he wasn’t completely done singing his own praises, denying the by-election defeats should be considered a source of shame and arguing that public sentiment against him had more to do with his personal life than his work as PM. “I think if you actually look at what the government is doing, it’s pretty remarkable, it is quite exceptional,” he told an ITV interviewer.
The recent electoral defeats have Johnson’s party seriously considering offloading him within weeks or months, with MPs reportedly planning to tweak committee rules to permit yet another vote of no confidence before next June. One former supporter and ex-cabinet minister told the Guardian the PM’s comments were “completely delusional.”
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Johnson’s policies during the Covid-19 pandemic led the UK into its worst economic slide since World War II in 2020, with the economy shrinking by a record amount, though the subsequent years have seen some recovery. However, that was before Johnson’s government imposed sanctions against Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine, resulting in cost-of-living and energy crises in the UK.