Boris Johnson's Tory leadership campaign and bid to become prime minister went from bad to worse yesterday following a series of bizarre radio interviews.
In one he admitted that he likes to paint old wine boxes and turn them into buses and, before that, he failed to answer a question about the origins of a recently emerged photo of him and his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds.
Johnson ducked the question posed to him by the LBC presenter Nick Ferrari an astonishing 26 times and this proved to be a topic of conversation between Newsnight host Emma Barnett and Andrew Mitchell, a Tory MP who is supporting Johnson's campaign.
In an explosive interview, Mitchell was mercilessly grilled by Barnett (who has become something of an expert in this field) about the very same photo and we can't be sure but we don't think Mitchell won this contest.
Has he [Johnson] got something to hide about that photo that was seen in the newspapers today?
That one from ages ago with his partner because he was asked 26 times today about when it was taken.
I can answer a question at maybe the first or second time of asking. Why couldn't he answer it?
Mitchell responded with an attack directed at LBC and Ferrari, who he called 'gutter press'.
Do you know, that I made it a rule never to try and probe into the private lives or marriages and relationships of prominent public figures and I leave that to the gutter press which I don't think Newsnight is amongst.
That is not 'gutter press' questioning. The question is, 'When is the photo from?'
Not how it was taken or what they were doing beforehand or after.
Stop trying to paint me into the gutter. I'm asking a perfectly fair question which is this:
Why can't our future prime minister not answer a simple question about when a photo was from?
Not, 'What was you doing in it?' Or, 'What was you doing after it?' But, 'When it was from?' 26 times.
The member of parliament for Sutton Coldfield tried to answer the question.
I have no idea when the picture was taken but what I do know is that if he doesn't want to answer questions - look this is one of the most scrutinised politicians on the planet - if he doesn't want to answer that question he's entitled not to do so.
The two then argued if the photo was part of Johnson's private life or not, which led to Barnett saying:
Sorry, it is about a planted photo in a newspaper and we need to know what tricks are going on and what the veracity of that is.
It's not an unfair question and I think it's terribly unfair to call LBC and Nick Ferrari the 'gutter press' to be asking that question.
Mitchell tried to deflect this by saying that journalists shouldn't go after the private life of politicians and admitted that he didn't know when the photograph was taken.
Barnett then responded by telling Mitchell he was close to repeating Johnson's effort of ignoring a question 26 times.
I asked you, very clearly, why couldn't Boris Johnson answer the question.
We're nearly in danger of me asking you that 26 times. If he doesn't want to do that he doesn't have to but we talk about transparency. Is that transparent?
Mitchell then tried to bring up other questions that Johnson had been asked in the interview.
I think it's for him to decide whether he wants to answer it.
He was being posed with very important questions like, 'What's going to happen with the European Union?' And, 'What sort of a prime minister he is going to be?'
If he chooses not to tell you about a photograph then that is a matter for him.
On that point, Barnett brought the interview to an end with Mitchell pulling a face that looked like this:
The interview has since been shared online and has been viewed more than 85,000 times on Twitter alone - and people are once again praising Barnett for her efficient interviewing technique.
HT The Poke