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Darkest hour: Johnson has received messages of support from the Taoiseach and Tánaiste

Darkest hour: Johnson has received messages of support from the Taoiseach and Tánaiste

REUTERS

Darkest hour: Johnson has received messages of support from the Taoiseach and Tánaiste

Boris Johnson has never wanted to be treated like a normal person. "I think he honestly believes it is churlish of us not to regard him as an exception," a schoolteacher once wrote on his report, "one who should be free of the network of obligation which binds everyone else."

When I interviewed him as a backbench MP in 2004, he ended our conversation by saying: "I hope you've got enough quotes there, but if you don't then just make it up. Make it up! Write the whole thing in blank verse or something, I don't mind."

In recent days Johnson has battled against an enemy that could not care less about his status, charm or intelligence. Last Sunday evening, Britons were concerned to learn that their prime minister's Covid-19 symptoms had worsened significantly and he was being admitted to St Thomas' Hospital. One day later, that concern turned to outright fear as the 55-year-old was moved into intensive care.