Boris Johnson's senior adviser Dominic Cummings has found himself in the news today after a video clip emerged of him suggesting most Conservative MPs 'do not care' about 'poorer people' or the NHS. Now in No. 10, Cummings appears to be on a mission to change that – with a focus on applying the Johnson ethos of boosterism to healthcare.
But what of Johnson's old comments? A search of Cambridge's student newspaper archive reveals that BoJo too has made some comments which could now be deemed off-message.
In a 2000 interview with Varsity, the then editor of The Spectator discussed his decision to stand as the Conservative candidate for Henley. He told the student reporter that he would be a gaffe-prone politician: 'I don’t know whether I’ll be any good, I think it’s quite likely I won’t be. My problem will be I will make gaffes, people will try to trip me up and I will always fall into it.' No doubt Monsieur Barnier will be pleased to hear so.
On the subject of Europe, the 2000 Johnson predicts that the Tories won't occupy a 'sort of fringe of sullen objectionable views on immigrants and frothing xenophobia on Europe and free market ideas on health.' The reason? 'The Conservative party is basically far too interested... too interested in power.'
So how did Boris foresee his ability to unite the nation? 'My appeal to the masses may be very limited. I don’t know what to say to you.' Oh dear. Perhaps he can rally the country by scrapping the Northern Ireland backstop and forcing through his own deal? 'The other thing about politics I’ve suddenly started realising is that there are questions which don’t have easy answers. It’s a rather depressing conservative position. But there it is.'
Did Johnson used to be a gloomster?