Boris Johnson will make a good prime minister, one of the most prominent business backers of Brexit believes.
JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin, who is closely linked to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, hosted Mr Johnson at one of his London pubs.
Mr Martin said a Johnson premiership “could be a useful string to the Brexit bow”.
He told the PA news agency: “I think that the reality is that the next prime minister is going to come from the Tory party and Boris has a very close association with Brexit having led the campaign to leave during the referendum.
“I have known him since then and I think he could be a useful string in the Brexit bow.”
The pub firm’s chairman said he was impressed with Mr Johnson’s record as Spectator editor, mayor of London and Vote Leave frontman.
“I think he can be a good prime minister because he has had another job, he has been a magazine editor for a long time which is a tough gig, he has been mayor of London and he was very successful in leading the referendum campaign.
“So I think he’s a winner. Can he deliver Brexit? I hope that he can.
“He has got to overcome the Oxbridge Remainers who dominate all the political parties in Parliament and that’s not easy.”
During his visit to the Metropolitan Bar, Mr Johnson posed for selfies and signed autographs for enthusiastic lunchtime drinkers.
But one customer, finishing a late breakfast, banged the table and chanted “People’s Vote” in a call for a second Brexit referendum.
Mr Johnson walked on, muttering “we’ve already had one”.
Fulfilling the obligatory campaign photo call behind the bar, Mr Johnson pulled a pint of Knight Of The Garter from the Windsor and Eton Brewery – based just across the Thames from the Tory leadership hopeful’s former school.
Eton College can already boast 19 prime ministers and Mr Johnson is the favourite to win the Tory leadership contest to become the 20th.
As Mr Johnson and Mr Martin poured their pints, the pub chain boss suggested he was doing “bloody well” with the hand pump and would move “straight up to the higher level of pay” if politics did not work out as a career.
But the pair did not polish off their beers, with Mr Johnson – who had taken part in a TV debate with Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday evening in Salford – noting that “I had quite a late night last night”.
Mr Martin said: “I think he is an impressive guy personally. In spite of what people say, he’s a hard worker, he is charismatic, he has got strong liberal views – which is not what everyone says but it’s definitely true.
“I think he would make a good prime minister.”
But he insisted the Brexit Party would still have a role to play in shaping the UK’s exit from the European Union.
“I think the Tory party is quite heavily dominated by people who believe in Remain and there’s definitely a very big role for the Brexit Party in the country.
“It’s a difficult political system with first-past-the-post for minority parties, but I think the Brexit Party has done a really good job in representing the people.”
And Mr Martin indicated that he was not about to start donating some of his cash to the Tories if Mr Johnson did become the next prime minister.
“I’ve donated money to the Leave campaign but that’s a good question. I have no plans to dip my hand in my pocket just at the moment,” he said.