Boris Johnson has insisted he has no plans to quit despite mounting dissatisfaction with his leadership from his own MPs.
Despite a thirteenth Conservative MP publicly calling for him to quit on Wednesday, Johnson insisted he as “certainly not” finished.
“I am getting on with the job and I will do so for as long as I have the privilege and honour to serve in this position,” he said.
But the prime minister was unable to explain why his popularity has plummeted in recent months.
“I make no commentary but I am focussed on the next election,” he told the newspaper, added that the government was “remorselessly” focussed on “the job in hand”.
If the prime minister were to be reelected in 2024, he would likely remain in office for a decade.
Johnson’s defiance comes after five Tory MPs called for his head in the space of 24 hours.
And, according to The Times, a further five are considering submitting letters of no confidence in the coming days, with momentum growing behind a leadership challenge.
If 54 letters are submitted to Sir Graham Brady, the powerful chairman of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, Johnson will face a confidence vote.
Speaking to The Sun on the plane back from Ukraine this week, Johnson said: “I am focussed not on my critics, I won’t accept criticism from the Labour party or anywhere else.
“My job is to get on with what the public elected ME to do, the best answer to any criticism is to deliver.
“This is the government that delivered Brexit; delivered an 80 seat majority; delivered the fastest booster rollout; and the fastest economic growth in the G7.”
He added: “We are focusing on the job in hand, day by day, there is literally a huge amount to do.
“We’ve got to make sure we tackle the cost of living, but we’ve got build on our strong jobs led, high wage high skill recovery.
“That’s what people want. The best way to tackle the cost of living is to have better paid jobs and much more of them.”
Hailing his plan to ‘level up’ Britain, Johnson said: “We want to go much further — we want to have a pro-enterprise, better-regulated economy.
“The fundamental idea is that we need to get business, enterprise and the private sector to invest in places around the country that for too long people have though the only answer is state handouts.
“Instead it needs to be about opportunity, conservatism, people taking their lives into their own hands and making the most of their potential.”
The prime minister added: “If we were able to bring our cities, our major cities, our towns and our left behind coastal communities, to the same level as other such cities in Europe we would be the most prosperous country, the richest economy in Europe.
“The gap between the London and South East and the rest of the country is bigger than the economic gap in any other comparable country.
“We have a bigger productivity gap than any such country; but we can fix that.
“Do you seriously think that people in these areas are possessed of any less imagination, energy? Drive? Zap? Genius? Gumption? Flair? No, no, no. No they are not.
“They just haven’t been given the chances, and they haven’t been allowed to believe they can do things and we need to change that.”