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A friend of Tony Blair's spinner Alastair Campbell
A friend of Tony Blair's spinner Alastair Campbell

Rather in the way John Major's humble background - the down-at-heel flat in Brixton, being turned down for the job of bus conductor, no university education - David Davis's early years are cited by his supporters as a bonus point.

He is the son of a single mother, never knew his father and was adopted by a trade union shop steward. For some time the family lived on a Tooting council estate.

His strategically clever sidelining of himself as chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee - where he scored some notable hits and headlines against the government - shows his skills of calculation and his ambition.

Turning down a job on William Hague's front bench left him relatively "untainted", as he put it, of the terrible showing the party made at the general election.

The late Alan Clark described him in his diaries as a "good strong chap, very much our sense of humour". The intensely Eurosceptical right-winger Eric Forth is another close friend.

But that Davis counts Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's chief spinner, among his good friends is likely to be viewed with suspicion by a good number of his fellow Tory MPs, some of whom accuse Davis of having too eagerly allowed himself to be over-hyped in recent months.

Audio/Video Clips
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All five candidates head-to-head on Question Time
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David Davis drops out of the race
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David Davis joins the race
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David Davis and Iain Duncan Smith discuss the challenges facing the next Tory leader
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