Boris Johnson on Monday insisted he had a “new mandate” from Conservative MPs to lead the party, as his allies suggested he had a six-month window to rebuild his premiership.

The prime minister’s authority took a fresh blow on Friday when the Tories suffered crushing defeats in parliamentary by-elections in Wakefield in West Yorkshire and Tiverton and Honiton in Devon.

It came after Johnson this month survived a vote of no confidence in his leadership following the partygate scandal, with 41 per cent of Conservative MPs refusing to support him.

At the G7 summit in Bavaria, the prime minister highlighted how a majority of Tory MPs did back him, telling journalists: “I’ve got a new mandate from my party which I’m absolutely delighted about.”

Johnson deflected questions about his future, saying he was focused “1,000 per cent” on delivering on his policy priorities, including the Ukraine war and tackling the cost of living crisis.

Johnson’s allies suggested he had a six-month window until Christmas to restore his standing, saying they thought it was unlikely that Conservative party rules would be changed quickly to allow another no-confidence vote in the prime minister.

“There’s an opening, post-partygate and post-by-elections, for us to focus on delivery,” said one minister close to Johnson. “We need a period without any Westminster distractions.”

Another minister said: “We have to sell what we’re doing much better, be it on Ukraine or cost of living. There’s a good story to tell about the government, but it’s not being heard.”

Following the by-elections, Conservative MPs opposed to Johnson are seeking to force another no-confidence vote in the prime minister.

But in order to do that, they must secure an overhaul of party rules set by the 1922 committee of backbench Conservative MPs that currently rule out another vote for one year.

Johnson’s critics in the parliamentary party hope to use upcoming elections to the 18-strong 1922 executive to choose MPs who would support changing the rules so that another vote could happen in less than one year.

One senior Tory MP close to the 1922 executive said the elections would take place before the end of July, adding it was unlikely those seeking to oust Johnson would take full control.

The MP said: “It’s hard to call but the ‘22 executive normally ends up broadly representative of the spectrum of opinion within the parliamentary party.”

Meanwhile, Johnson’s allies said Downing Street’s plan for a cabinet reshuffle was unlikely to happen until later in the summer or potentially the autumn, despite Conservative party chair Oliver Dowden resigning on Friday following the by-election defeats.

The prime minister has discussed with aides the idea of promoting some longstanding supporters to shore up his position, such as moving Nigel Adams, currently minister without portfolio, to Tory chair.

But one Johnson ally said: “We need a bit of breathing room to let things calm down a little. Everyone has become overexcited and a period of just getting on with the job will do everyone some good.”



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