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Liz Truss insists cabinet backs Boris Johnson and says he has her ‘100% support’

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Liz Truss has insisted the cabinet still backs Boris Johnson despite the Tories’ disastrous byelection defeats and has given him her “100 per cent” support.

Senior ministers are being urged to walk out to bring down the prime minister – after former party leader William Hague told them “that’s what I would do”.

But the foreign secretary, asked if Mr Johnson retains the crucial support of his cabinet – while thousands of miles away at a summit in Rwanda – told ITV News: “He does”.

Ms Truss, who is certain to be a leadership candidate herself in any contest, told reporters in the African country that she “100 per cent supports the prime minister”.

“He’s doing an excellent job and we need to keeping going at this very difficult time for the world,” she said, brushing off the Tiverton and Wakefield defeats as no “predictor” of what will happen at the general election.

“The reality is that incumbent governments often lose by-elections and often people want to send a message in a by-election to raise concerns with the government,” Ms Truss said.

“But that doesn’t make byelection results the predictor of election outcomes. It hasn’t been the predictor in the past and I don’t believe it will be the predictor of the next general election.”

Back in the UK, Tory rebels are plotting to seize control of the 1922 Committee of backbenchers in elections next month – the other possible route to toppling Mr Johnson.

They would then attempt to force a rule change to allow another no-confidence vote, lifting the bar preventing another challenge for 12 months, until next June.

Another vote could then be held in the autumn if the looming contempt inquiry into whether the prime minister lied to parliament over the No 10 parties is damning.

Earlier, a defiant Mr Johnson turned on Conservative opponents who are demanding he resign, telling them their criticism “doesn’t matter” and they have no policy ideas.

Speaking in Rwanda, he refused to accept he “personally contributed” to the byelection defeats through his lawbreaking behaviour in the Partygate scandal.

And he made clear he will not undergo “sort of psychological transformation” to change his character, saying: “I think our listeners will know that’s not going to happen.”

The prime minister claimed the “only argument of substance” made by any of his critics was “for us to go back into the EU single market”.

And he told BBC Radio 4: “As a leader you have to try to distinguish between criticism that really matters and the criticism that doesn’t matter.”

Mr Johnson also tried to put a positive spin on only 59 per cent of his MPs backing him in this month’s confidence vote, claiming: “I have a renewed mandate from my colleagues and I’m going to continue to deliver.”

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