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In 2005 I was a Parliamentary candidate in a key marginal seat and Boris had agreed to come and speak in support of my candidacy. I collected him from the station and he slumped into the seat beside me. A shadowy figure slipped into the back of the car. He pulled out a file and a telephone and began editing the Spectator. He chatted to me about all sorts of things and the shadowy figure in the back pulled out a notebook and pen. It turned out a magazine was doing a profile of him. The presence of the journalist did not seem to inhibit him at all. So, why, I asked him, when he could edit a great national newspaper, which is clearly something he would be good at, was he trundling around far flung constituencies making speeches in cold halls? His instant reaction was: “Because it matters. Politics, the House of Commons, is the only place you can actually make a real difference. That’s why it’s worth the effort and that’s why it’s important.”
This evening Boris Johnson will emerge for only the second time in public in this Conservative leadership contest to debate with the other candidates the future of the country.