On Monday Boris Johnson returns to his desk in Number 10 to resume his premiership, following a near-fatal interlude after contracting a severe case of coronavirus. That is not the kind of experience that leaves any human being unchanged. Apart from the physically debilitating consequences of the illness, such a near-brush with death in late middle age must have a sobering effect, as intimations of mortality put previous preoccupations and distractions into perspective. Behind the flippant persona Boris Johnson has always harboured a philosophical streak, unlike any of his recent predecessors, fostered by his classical education. That may now stand him in good stead.