On his chances of becoming Prime Minister: “I don’t take it much more seriously than I take myself. It’s all good fun but it was summer froth. I’m a quiet West Country politician who has been of a little interest over the summer. I wouldn’t put it any higher than that.”

On appearing to be too strict a Catholic: “It’s very easy for the Catholic Church to appear dogmatic. Mercy is an important part of the Church’s teaching. Everything you say has to be tempered with mercy … One should always remember that the mercy of God is very great.”

On whether he invented his fogeyish image: “Funnily enough, people asked the same thing at Eton. They said, ‘You can’t really be like that.’ I just am. The most definitive answer I can give is that nobody would deliberately develop my image.”

On his preference for the Tridentine Mass: “If it’s available I like going to the Extraordinary Rite. We’re very lucky we get it in Somerset once a month. The more you go the more you will find that it is a good thing to go to. You get some time to think and it’s not all noisy – and there’s no risk of guitars. I think Mass can be too noisy and guitars should be banned.”

On his determination to oppose the legalisation of euthanasia: “We have bills coming before Parliament on this issue and I am very concerned about this because I think it’s very easy to use the very troubling cases to allow for exceptional circumstances which you find, quite quickly, become the norm. And then people are pressurised into ending their lives early because they’re a burden on their families and so on. Whether our motives are religious or practical, people who are nervous about euthanasia need to be very well prepared to stop that going exactly the same way as abortion, which went from being something specifically about the mother’s health to being a variant form of contraception.”

On his favourite popes: “My great hero is probably Pius IX because of his traditional view of the state and the Church, and his Syllabus of Errors was a clear view … Pope Benedict was a wonderful inspirational pope for the Church both as a cardinal and as Holy Father.”

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