So the party of family values has chosen as leader a man of whom to say he has the morals of an alley cat would be to libel the feline species. Thus the Tories, with two women PMs to their credit, have achieved another historic first: scuppering the belief — argued by the Daily Mail in my 26 years as editor — that politicians with scandalous private lives cannot hold high office. I make no comment on this, or about the 31-year-old minx who is the current Boris Johnson bedwarmer, but ask you instead to spare a thought for Petronella’s abortion, Helen’s love child, Marina’s humiliation and her four children’s agony.
On which note, a confession: I myself have had several emotional dalliances with our hero, including a lachrymose lunch (his tears not mine) with Boris bewailing that the Mail was destroying his marriage, while confiding that, anyway, monogamy is just a bourgeois convention. In fact the Mail, a family newspaper, never broke stories about his extracurricular activities, but I plead guilty to laying waste forests to intellectualise their psycho/socio-implications. The problem for us Brexiteers is there is another side to the man, with whom I have also enjoyed enthrallingly intimate dinners when he spoke with extraordinary passion, lucidity and optimism about Britain’s future outside the EU. For months now, my advice to his phalanx of minders has been to padlock his zipper and to keep her in the background. Not that he’ll take a blind bit of notice. Like many journalists, he is an outsider who doesn’t give a damn what people think.
This article is an extract from Paul Dacre’s Spectator diary, available in this week’s magazine.
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