Boris Johnson reveals biggest regret as Prime Minister during Dudley brewery visit

Boris Johnson has revealed his biggest regret from his time in Number 10 – the lack of bonding sessions with Tory MPs.

Boris Johnson pulling a pint alongside Marco Longhi MP at The Park Inn during a visit to Holden's Brewery
Boris Johnson pulling a pint alongside Marco Longhi MP at The Park Inn during a visit to Holden's Brewery

The former Prime Minister, who resigned after dozens of his own ministers turned against him, said the pandemic had stopped him from spending quality time with his colleagues in parliament.

Mr Johnson visited Holden's Brewery in Woodsetton, Dudley, as a guest of Dudley North MP Marco Longhi, who invited him to the town during his final PMQs in July.

He went on a tour of the family-run brewery, before posing for selfies and chatting with drinkers at The Park Inn, where he went behind the bar to pour a pint of the famous Golden Glow.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Express & Star, he called for patience on Brexit and said the Rwanda plan for immigration needed "fixing". He said he believed Rishi Sunak could lead the Tories to victory at the next general election – but only if he delivers on key policies from the 2019 manifesto.

Boris Johnson was greeted by Dudley North MP Marco Longhi at Holden's Brewery

He also spoke of his number one regret from a spell in office that was largely taken up by the fight against Covid.

"The thing I wish in retrospect I'd been able to do more of is just to spend more time with colleagues in parliament," he said.

"We were all locked up. We spent two years basically unable to talk to each other face to face. I don't think in three years being Prime Minister I had a single bonding weekend with Tory MPs."

Following his departure from Number 10 Mr Johnson was lining up an unlikely comeback, but pulled the plug on a leadership challenge against Mr Sunak after claiming he would not be able to govern without a "united party in parliament".

Former PM Boris Johnson tried his hand at loading a barrel onto the washer at Holden's Brewery

Reflecting on his time as PM, he said "a huge amount was achieved" and pointed to the vaccine roll out, delivering Brexit and the country's support for Ukraine.

But he said his focus now was firmly on supporting the Government to take the "difficult decisions" necessary to take the country forward.

Mr Johnson said: "It's crucial we remember that the people of the West Midlands voted very strongly to get Brexit done. They voted to level up and unite the country, and they voted for a lot of transformation.

"We must continue to deliver."

Former PM Boris Johnson posing for a selfie with customer Mark Nicholls at The Park Inn

Mr Johnson called for patience on Brexit, saying benefits were "coming down the track". And reflecting on his time working at the Express & Star in the late 1980s, he said it was vital the Government continued to focus on levelling up

"People attack Brexit now, but I say 'wait, wait, wait', there are benefits that are coming down the track and there are ways we'll be able to do things differently," he said.

"One example would be the vaccine roll out – that would not have been possible at that speed without Brexit.

"I want to make sure the Government continues to focus on that and it continues to focus on levelling up.

"Driving through the West Midlands really took me back. In the 40 years since I worked here, new industries have grown up and there are new opportunities in the Black Country.

"Its so vital that we Conservatives continue to deliver the infrastructure improvements, the new technologies, the broadband... all the things that will help businesses continue to flourish in the Black Country."

Boris Johnson was given a tour of Holden's Brewery, Woodsetton, by Jonothan Holden

Mr Johnson said he believed new PM Mr Sunak could lead the Tories to victory at the next general election, providing he focuses on key policies from the 2019 manifesto.

"It's about focusing on the things that those people voted for and remembering the importance of delivering on the levelling up agenda," he said.

"We can't let this country become the prisoner of the forces of stagnation again. Things like sorting out the Rwanda policy – that's something that needs to be fixed and it can be done.

"We've got to make sure we deliver on immigration and levelling up."

Asked if his own leadership ambitions were now over, he harked back to comments he made during his time as London mayor when asked whether he wanted to be Prime Minister.

"I'm very proud of what I've been able to do," Mr Johnson said. "I'm very happily occupied at the moment trying to support my party and the Government.

"I think I've said before my chances of becoming Prime Minister were about as good as being blinded by a champagne cork, locked in a disused fridge or decapitated by a frisbee.

"It did come to pass, but I'm focused on helping the Government."

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