They hadn’t put him in solitary confinement for weeks for him to blow it on his first outing The instructions from his minders had been clear. Keep it dull, keep it vague and get the hell out of the room as fast as possible. They hadn’t gone to the trouble of keeping their man away from the media for weeks on end, only for him to blow it on his first outing. The last thing they wanted was for Boris Johnson to be the real Boris Johnson. His serial dishonesty, his total untrustworthiness and sheer incompetence were best kept under wraps, at least until after he became the prime minister. What was required for his campaign launch was a hollowed-out Boris Johnson. Someone who could near enough pass himself off as credible. Geoffrey Cox, a man with a long track record of defending the indefensible, took to the stage of a crowded, overheated room in Westminster to get proceedings under way. This was a time of great crisis for the country, he intoned in his trademark cod-Shakespearean baritone. Cox never tires of hearing his own voice. The next prime minister needed to be a person of the very highest calibre. Someone who could unite the country. Someone of the soundest character. Despite all this, he was still going to back Boris. Because the leadership contest had only ever been about the survival of the Tory party. And Johnson was the only lifeboat in view.
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