That Winston Churchill was widely distrusted within his own party and by the British ruling elite when he became prime minister, in May 1940, is well documented. “Seldom can a Prime Minister have taken office with the Establishment … so dubious of the choice and so prepared to find its doubts justified,” wrote the prime minister’s former private secretary, Jock Colville, adding that “within a fortnight all was changed.”

The second volume of the unexpurgated diaries of Henry “Chips” Channon, brilliantly edited by Simon Heffer, reveals how far this was from being the case.