ON the advice of his allies, Boris Johnson has been in hiding for months. You know things are bad when the man who is tipped to become our next prime minister is deemed such a liability that he can’t even be trusted to speak for fear he will cause an international incident – or harm his chances of success.

The launch of his campaign to become next Tory leader was hotly anticipated. Not least by Johnson’s new girlfriend, who was glad to finally have the house to herself. It was a curious spectacle all in all. The carefully crafted persona of the “loveable rogue” “bumbling Boris” and “arsehole-in-chief” (okay that last one was mine) fell away as he attempted to present a more grown-up figure than the toddler-let-loose-with-glitter perception we have of him.

Stripped from his bejewelled cloak of buffoonery, the former foreign secretary stood before us naked. Readers, it was not a pretty sight. Without the jokes and distraction techniques, we saw the Johnson in all his shrivelled glory.

Despite the sycophantic and cringeworthy performance of support from his lackies – which saw them whoop and cheer as though witnessing the second coming of Christ – he was wholly unimpressive.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson: MPs will face 'mortal retribution' if they stop Brexit

Those watching at home will have noticed that he isn’t the messiah after all – he’s just a very stupid boy. It was an unexciting speech full of tired, vague platitudes and delivered by a politician of zero substance or credibility.

He allowed six questions from the press – the lowest of any Tory leadership contender so far. Not that it mattered, of course, because he didn’t answer them anyway.

Questions about his past drug use were batted away.

Those on his personal character and history of lying were booed by his supporters and suddenly, the Boris we know was back.

He did the familiar ruffling of the hair and started to mumble in Latin. He grinned inanely and words flew out of his mouth that he seemed to have no control over.

“MINESTRONE!” he told Laura Kuenssberg.

“PARROT?” he said to Beth Rigby.

“I LOVE YOU, BORIS!” shouted Ross Thomson, unable to hold off any longer.

The National: From left: Tory MPs Iain Duncan Smith, Priti Patel, Nadine Dorries and Liz Truss at Boris Johnson's campaign launchFrom left: Tory MPs Iain Duncan Smith, Priti Patel, Nadine Dorries and Liz Truss at Boris Johnson's campaign launch

In what was a largely London-centric speech he did eventually get around to mentioning the Union.

He spoke of strengthening the bonds of affection between the nations of the UK. Aye pal, best of luck with that one.

He pitched himself as a leader who could unify not only the Conservative Party, but the country too – which is a bold claim from a man whose own family are still undecided on whether they like him or not.

It shows the state the UK is in that a proven eejit is odds-on favourite to win. It’s like the Tory party looked at Theresa May and decided that the best antidote to her unending dullness was to replace her with somebody who probably sets fire to things for fun.

READ MORE: We need to tax the grievance monkey unwashed Jocks until they squeak!

We’ve heard a lot about the curious practices and group-bonding activities of the upper echelons of British society. It’s not often we see it in action. The fervent moans, breathless cries of delight and plummy shouts of encouragement from his assembled supporters were enough to put you off your dinner. Not least because Chris Grayling was such an active participant.

You’ve got to admire Johnson though. In an uncertain and anxious world, he showed on Wednesday that he is totally convinced by his own hype. He assured us that he was the only person who could win in every country of the UK, at which point the laughter from Bute House could be heard all the way down in Westminster.

“LET’S COME TOGETHER!” he shouted. A bizarre request from a man who has never given a woman an orgasm in his life.

Still, at least his admirers will have left the event with a glow of satisfaction. It’s just a pity for Boris that the rest of us still find him a massive turn-off.