When David Barnard arrived in a London studio two weeks ago, he says he had no idea he was about to meet the Prime Minister or appear in a Conservative Party TV advert that has now been seen by millions of people across the country.
He’d been told the party was doing interviews with people who voted Conservative for the first time - little did he know he would be the only person being interviewed and Boris Johnson would appear halfway through.
Today he still can’t quite believe his luck - a friend, a long-term Conservative party member, had invited him along. That same friend is now ‘pretty jealous’, having never met the PM himself.
David says the party paid for his hotel in London the night before - but that’s all. When he arrived he was told the interview would be recorded. There was a white screen in the room - he’s still not sure at what point Boris Johnson was smuggled in and how long he was hiding behind the wall.
In the advert, David talks about how his whole family had always voted Labour. A Leave voter, he says he moved away from Labour because they weren’t promising to deliver the referendum result, but also because the Conservatives seemed ‘so much more optimistic.’
Beyond Brexit, David wants to see an increase in infrastructure and says the Government needs to start getting the best out of the north.
I put to him that the Conservatives have been in power for the past ten years and could have used that time to ‘get things done outside of London’. David responds that ‘regardless of austerity, there was still more interest in the north than there was under Labour’.
"They (the Conservatives) did what they could before, but now we’re in a better position I think it’s really time to put money into the North.”
David works in highway maintenance and is more used to getting motorways moving rather than political campaigns.
He says the reaction over the past few days has been ‘surreal’ - with people on social media questioning whether he’s an actor (he says he’s not) and whether the flat cap is really his (he says it is). But David says his friends and family are ‘dead proud’ and to him that is what matters.
“I’ve spent the past two days trying to convince people this is my hat! People are going to think whatever they want, it only matters to me what my friends and family think.”
The advert was clearly designed to detoxify the Conservative Party’s brand in the north and bring more people on board. It has at the very least brought one more person into the fold - David’s membership card dropped through the door yesterday. He already goes along to the monthly quiz at his local Conservative club in Bolton and wants to get his selfie with the PM on the wall.
As for plans beyond that - "I might try and be a councillor one day, an MP - who knows!"