British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to stay in power until the mid-2030s

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Joe Giddens | Reuters

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday he was aiming to stay in power until the middle of the next decade despite calls for his resignation, making him the country’s longest continuously serving leader in 200 years.

Earlier this month, Johnson survived a confidence vote by Conservative lawmakers in which 41% of his fellow MPs voted to oust him and is under investigation for deliberately misleading Parliament.

On Friday, Conservative candidates lost two parliamentary by-elections held to replace former Conservative incumbents who were forced to resign, one after being convicted of sexual assault and the other of viewing pornography in the House of Commons.

The by-election defeats suggest the broad voter appeal that helped Johnson win a large parliamentary majority in December 2019 may be collapsing following a scandal surrounding illegal parties being held at Downing Street during the coronavirus lockdown .

Under Conservative party rules, her lawmakers cannot formally challenge Johnson for another year, but overwhelming dissatisfaction or the resignations of a number of senior ministers could make his position untenable.

The UK is also in the midst of its deepest cost of living crisis in decades, with inflation at a 40-year high.

Former party leader Michael Howard said on Friday it was now time for Johnson to go, and Conservative Party leader Oliver Dowden resigned after the by-election losses.

But Johnson said he wanted to serve a third term and remain prime minister until the mid-2030s, giving him time to narrow regional economic disparities and make changes to Britain’s legal and immigration systems.

“Right now I’m actively thinking about the third term and, you know, what might happen then. But I’ll check it out when I get around to it,” Johnson told reporters in Rwanda on the final day of a visit for a Commonwealth summit.

When asked what he meant, Johnson said, “About the third term … that’s the mid-2030s.”

Johnson must schedule the next UK national election by December 2024 and needs a third election victory by 2029.

If he were in office beyond early 2031, he would beat Margaret Thatcher’s record as Britain’s longest-serving prime minister since Robert Banks Jenkinson, Earl of Liverpool, who held office from 1812 to 1827.

No challenge, no change?

Johnson told reporters he did not expect to have to fight another internal challenge within his party, blaming the by-election defeats in part on months of media coverage of lockdown parties at the heart of government.

“People were fed up with hearing about things that I had stuffed or supposedly stuffed or whatever, this endless — perfectly legitimate but endless — barrage of messages,” he said.

Earlier on Saturday, Johnson told BBC radio he rejected the notion that he should change his behaviour.

“If you say you want me to undergo some kind of psychological transformation, I think our listeners would know that that… isn’t going to happen.”

Johnson declined to comment on a report in The Times newspaper that he was planning to recruit a donor to fund a £150,000 ($184,000) tree house for his son on his state-provided country estate.

The story comes months after his party was fined for failing to correctly report a donation that helped fund the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat.

“I will comment on non-existent objects,” Johnson said when asked if he planned to use a donor’s money to build the treehouse. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to stay in power until the mid-2030s

Joshua Buckhalter

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