Boris Johnson insisted there is “no place like home” as he prepared to return from a week-long foreign trip to plots to oust him from Downing Street.
The Prime Minister said he is excited to head from Madrid to the UK on Thursday after being abroad for the double by-election defeat that triggered a Cabinet resignation.
He has not ruled out an early general election but insisted a snap poll ahead of the next vote scheduled in 2024 “hasn’t occurred to me”.
Mr Johnson’s authority was further damaged by the loss of the Tory stronghold of Tiverton and Honiton to the Liberal Democrats and Wakefield to Labour last week.
Conservative rebels are considering a move to change the rules of the 1922 Committee of backbenchers to allow another vote of no confidence within the next year.
Oliver Dowden resigned as Tory party co-chairman following the devastating by-election results that landed while Mr Johnson was 4,000 miles away in the Rwandan capital of Kigali for a Commonwealth summit.
As MPs plotted, the Prime Minister flew on to Germany for the G7 summit and then to Spain for the Nato meeting.
Asked if he is looking forward to returning to Britain after eight days away, he told a press conference: “Yes, I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to get … not that … it’s been wonderful being here in Madrid, as I’ve enjoyed being in Kigali and Germany.
“But there’s no place like home – so I’m keen to get back.”
The Prime Minister has claimed he has a new mandate at Westminster following his victory in the confidence vote, despite 41% of his own MPs deciding he should go, and was asked whether he would also seek a fresh mandate from the country.
Mr Johnson, a former journalist, told reporters accompanying him on the trip to the Nato summit in Madrid: “Do you know what, I’ve realised where I’ve been going wrong with all this.
“I’ve got to recognise that years and years ago, I used to do the kind of jobs that you all do now, and it was a great, great life and a great privilege.
“What you are able to do is offer opinion, commentary, analysis, predictions about politics, about individuals and so on.
“I think I’ve got to recognise I’m no longer a member of that sacred guild.
“It would be a demarcation dispute for me to cross over and start talking about politics.
“I’ve got to talk about my programme for government, about policy, and what I’m doing to take the country forward.”
Asked whether he was ruling out an early election he said: “I’m just saying, I don’t comment on those sorts of things.”
He added: “The idea hadn’t occurred to me, if you really want the truth, because I’m focused on getting through the cost-of-living pressures, developing and improving, widening, our plan for a stronger economy, and making sure that we continue to offer leadership on some of the tough global issues the world faces.”
Asked if he was leaning towards a snap election he said: “I am not offering commentary, what I’m trying to get over to you is that I’m here to comment on policy, on the agenda of government.”
His comments came as The Times reported that staff at Conservative Party headquarters had war-gamed the idea of calling a snap election if Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is forced to resign as a result of Durham Police’s investigation into alleged breaches of coronavirus rules.