Boris Johnson has always encouraged parallels between himself and his hero Winston Churchill. He wrote a flattering biography of the UK’s wartime leader in 2014, widely seen at the time as a vanity project to promote his own ambition to be prime minister.

I’ve just read The Churchill Factor. I thought it might provide some clues to Johnson’s handling of his “war” against coronavirus, and it does. He thought his own battle, to “get Brexit done,” had been won. How small the biggest story of my life as a political journalist feels today. Now Johnson knows he will be judged by his performance in his country’s biggest crisis since the Second World War.

“He saved our civilisation,” Johnson wrote of Churchill. “The point ... is that one man can make all the difference.” He noted that leaders from Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela to Fidel Castro tried to “ape” Churchill because his story is “bigger and more inspiring than a mere political creed. It is about the indomitability of the human spirit.”

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