HIS hair was neatly combed, his suit crisply ironed and his language carefully calibrated.

This was Boris on his best behaviour, hoping, praying, pleading that this time, surely, it was his turn to catch the ball as it left the back of the scrum.

Journalists and politicians, fortified by an unhealthy supply of bacon butties, were crammed into the launch room dominated by a large Conservative blue backdrop, shouting: “Back Boris!”

Steve Baker, the Brexiteers’ Brexiteer, sidled up to announce: “I’m backing Boris because I don’t want Britain to become Venezuala.”

Geoffrey Cox, the Attorney General, he of the booming baritone voice, was the warm-up man, who encouraged applause from the Boris devotees by declaring what the country needed was not merely managerial leadership but, clenching his fist and growling, political leadership.

And after a brief Boris meeting the punters video, the candidate jumped up onto the stage with one hope: not to mess things up.

His basic message was that Britain had shilly-shallied long enough on Brexit and it was time to deliver the baby. A chorus of MPs cheered and applauded at all the right moments as the candidate rambled through his speech that denounced the nihilistic socialism of Jeremy Corbyn and held up the moderate, sensible, modern Conservatism, which he proudly espoused.

Then came the tricky bit as the hacks prepared their questions, salivating at finally getting the chance to have a pot-shot at the submarine, which had finally surfaced.

One question packaged some of the bad stuff, including how Mr J had offended people at home and abroad as Foreign Secretary, how he was cavalier with detail and how he had given mixed messages on Brexit. Could he be trusted?

At the lectern, Boris’s eyes flicked left and right as if some annoying fly was buzzing around his head until he gathered his thoughts and referred to the “great minestrone of observations” that had been placed before him, saying he would address just the one crouton about inconsistency.

Another questioner asked about his character. “My parrot?” quipped a bemused Boris to sniggers from his supporters.

The question suggested he had brought shame on the party by likening Muslim women to bank robbers and letterboxes. The Boris groupies took umbrage and roared their disapproval. Internally, the candidate exploded. “Crikey. I mean come on.”

Externally, he explained that from time to time “some plaster comes off the ceiling” from a phrase he might have used or that might have been misinterpreted by his detractors.

“But it is vital we as politicians remember that one of the reasons why the public feels alienated now from us all as a breed is because too often we are muffling and veiling our language,” declared Boris.

Quizzed about his snorting cocaine at college, he mumbled how this was a long time ago and what people were really interested in was…

Then he was asked had he ever done anything illegal? He might have bruised the 70 mph speed limit a couple of times.

Boris began to look decidedly uncomfortable and brought the Q&A to a close sharpish much to the chagrin of the Fourth Estate, some of whose members jumped up and shouted: “More questions, Boris!” But the candidate was off. One enraged reporter marched up to a Back Boris aide and gave him the Alex Ferguson hairdryer treatment.

All the while, as the invited rose to leave, a lone muffled voice could be heard from the street below shouting: “B******s to Boris.”

Across Westminster at the last of the launches for Sajid Javid, there was no bad language, no bacon butties and, indeed, no candidate.

The Labour vote on Brexit had delayed the Saj, as he likes to be known, for more than an hour. When he finally appeared he joked how the Opposition had tried to "kybosh" his launch because it feared his campaign "the most".

The warm-up act was none other than Ruth Davidson, who extolled the virtues of her chosen candidate and admitted: “This is a phrase I have not used very often but he's the man for me."

The Scottish Tory leader had to leave early, saying her baby Finn needed her back in Scotland but not after hearing how the Saj wanted to emulate her success in Scotland.

“The change she brought to Holyrood is the change I will bring to Westminster,” he declared to applause.

But of all the launches, the Home Secretary’s was probably the most moving as he spoke of the racial abuse and discrimination he suffered growing up.

The Saj told how he had to run the gauntlet of schoolchildren who supported the National Front and in one incident recalled that “when I got racially abused by the toughest guy in school, well, rightly or wrongly, I punched him". The audience applauded.