Boris Johnson may be ruffling feathers in Downing Street with his grandstanding on the world stage, but an upcoming interview with diehard ally Nadine Dorries shines a light on a rather different side of his life after No 10.
Fresh from trips to Washington and Kyiv, the ex-prime minister has been interviewed on his former culture secretary’s inaugural Friday Night with Nadine show on TalkTV, due to air on Friday night.
He is touted by the broadcaster as making “an impassioned plea to the West” for more arms for Ukraine, and previously released snippets show him claiming those who believe he knowingly lied about Partygate are “out of their minds”, and insisting that “Brexit helped save lives”.
New clips trailed on Friday show what TalkTV describes as more “lighthearted” segments in his conversation with Ms Dorries – who only last month urged the Tories to “bring back Boris or die”, describing him as “still our political rockstar”.
The footage sees Mr Johnson discuss whether he would rather be stuck in a lift with Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon or Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
“Oh brother,” he replies, before adding: “Both individuals are actually far nicer and more amusing than you might otherwise imagine. The kind of hostility you see between politicians on screen is often not reflected in real life. I think, provided it wasn’t like 50 floors, I wouldn’t mind either of them.”
Mr Johnson also talks about his family life and leisure activities since he was ousted in September.
Asked whether his children with wife Carrie are “seeing more of Dad”, Mr Johnson said: “They are. Yes, and it’s fantastic because you know, I’ve got a very full day … I’m doing lots of writing.”
As Ms Dorries interjected to insist she wasn’t implying otherwise, Mr Johnson added: “I want to be very clear about that. Unless I specifically tell you otherwise, I’m doing stuff for Uxbridge and doing a lot of political work.
“But, yeah, it means I can do reading to them … building things. It’s great.”
Asked what he was building, he continued: “I’m building a garage for the quad bike. Not a big quad bike, it was a miniature quad bike. They’re too small for quad bikes.”
According to the Daily Mirror, Mr Johnson also discusses painting farmyard animals as a method of relaxation, saying: “I’ve got a project which is to master the form of the cow.”
The two activities chime with what Mr Johnson said about making toy buses, telling TalkRadio during his leadership campaign in 2019: “I get old, I don’t know, wooden crates, and I paint them. It’s a box that’s been used to contain two wine bottles, right, and it will have a dividing thing. And I turn it into a bus.
“So I put passengers – I paint the passengers enjoying themselves on a wonderful bus.”
It is unclear how much time for painting Mr Johnson has had, however, with the parliamentary register of interests showing that he has been paid an advance of £510,000 for a memoir about his time in office.
The former prime minister has earned £2.3m in the past 12 months on top of the £84,000 salary he receives as an MP, including £1.8m in speaking fees – accounting for more than a quarter of the total amount declared by every single MP over that period, outwith their parliamentary salary.
He is also facing the privileges committee inquiry into whether he deliberately misled parliament over lockdown – which could ultimately trigger a by-election in his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency.
However, the cabinet office has set aside £220,000 of taxpayer money to fund his legal defence.