Boris Johnson has said it would be “crazy” to consider quitting if the Tories lose two by-elections on Thursday.
The Prime Minister launched a defence of his leadership and his controversial Rwanda deportation policy as he arrived in the east African country while his candidates faced wipe out in Wakefield and in Tiverton and Honiton.
Asked on Wednesday if he would take responsibility and resign if the Tories, as expected, lost both seats he replied: “Are you crazy?”
He added: “Come on, it was only a year ago that we won the Hartlepool by election, which everybody thought was – you know, we hadn’t won Hartlepool for – I can’t remember when the Tory party last won Hartlepool – a long time. I don’t think it ever had.
“Governing parties generally do not win by-elections, particularly not in midterm. You know, I’m very hopeful, but you know, there you go.”
Johnson also defended his plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, stressing the progress the country has made in recent years.
Speaking from a school in Kigali, the Prime Minister said: “This is a plan that I think is absolutely necessary and right to fix the problem of illegal cross-Channel trafficking of people whose lives are being put at risk by the gangs.
“You have to break the business model of the gangs, it is totally the right thing to do.
“I think what people need to understand, what the critics of the policy need to understand, and I have seen loads and loads of criticism, is that Rwanda has undergone an absolute transformation in the last couple of decades.”
Johnson said he will stress the “obvious merits” of his Rwanda asylum policy to the Prince of Wales when they meet in Kigali.
The Prince, who is also attending the Commonwealth Summit in Rwanda, is reported to have been “appalled” by the plan to ship migrants from the UK to the African nation.
Johnson said: “People need to keep an open mind about the policy, the critics need to keep an open mind about the policy. A lot of people can see its obvious merits. So yeah, of course, if I am seeing the prince tomorrow, I am going to be making that point.”
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