The burqa brouhaha – a calculated step on Boris’s march to the top | Anne McElvoy

The Tory politician’s comments on Muslim women were no gaffe – they were made quite knowingly

When I met Boris Johnson in the full pomp of our early 20s, he was president of the Oxford Union debating society and had launched a new publication solemnly entitled Debate, to promote his upcoming events. I was interviewing him for the student newspaper (one of us is still basically in the same job). My clumsy response on seeing his prospectus was: “Is that all you’ve got?”

Years later, he still joked about the slight. A subsequent career as a leading conservative commentator, adventurous rake, London mayor, Leave campaigner, foreign secretary and man who would be leader demonstrates my error in underestimating his unwavering determination to capture and stay in the spotlight. But his sensitivity also illustrates a fear of being sidelined or falling off the success curve.

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