Boris Johnson will lead the Conservatives in the next general election despite the party’s defeat in local elections, Dominic Raab has said.
Speaking on Sunday morning, the deputy prime minister said he did not think the prime minister would face a vote of no confidence from Conservative MPs.
“I am sure he can and will win the next election,” he told Sky News.
“What people vote for in a series of midterm elections and what they vote for when you elect a government in a general election are two completely different things.”
But he admitted he faced a “hard fight” to keep his own seat from Esher and Walton in Surrey.
On Thursday, the Conservatives lost nearly 500 council seats across the country as both Labor and the Lib Dems made gains.
So far, Conservative MPs have largely supported the prime minister, despite the fallout from the partygate scandal and cost-of-living crisis.
But several grassroots leaders have questioned whether Johnson should remain in office.
Carlisle City Council Leader John Mallinson lashed out after Labor took control of the new Cumberland authority that will replace it.
“I just don’t feel like people already have confidence that the prime minister can be trusted to tell the truth,” he said.
Labor made headline-grabbing gains in London, scoring victories along England’s south coast and overtaking the Conservatives for second place in Scotland.
The Conservatives are also under pressure for a resurgence from the Liberal Democrats, who have won victories in the so-called Tory Blue Wall in the south, including control of Somerset council.
Many Conservative MPs will worry that Labor and the Liberal Democrats combined could rob the Conservatives of a majority in the next election, due in 2024.
Raab admitted that the election results had been “challenging” and “mixed” for the Conservatives.
Asked if the prime minister would face a vote of confidence, Raab told Times Radio: “No, I don’t think so.”
Speaking to Sky News, he denied that the queen’s speech on Tuesday was a “reset” for the government, but admitted there was a “message we need to heed”.
But he told Sky News: “What we’re going to focus on this week is what our plans are to boost the economy, protect the cost of living.”