London — Tie askew, hair mussed into a state of tonsorial turmoil, one sock inside out, Boris Johnson is facing his first major audition for the job he has craved all his life. He knows what is coming. “Why were the police called to your house in the early hours of Friday morning?” asks Iain Dale, the moderator of June’s Conservative leadership hustings in Birmingham. An uneasy murmur spreads along the gathered rows of party members.

“I don’t think people want to hear about that kind of thing,” Johnson growls, referring to the row with his partner Carrie Symonds, during which she shouted “Get off me” and lambasted him for spilling red wine on her sofa. Britain’s prospective prime minister had been recorded yelling “Get off my f**king laptop”.

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