A PRIEST delivering a church service received a text message from Number 10 just minutes before the Prime Minister landed in the North-East.

Matthew Firth of Darlington had been conducting Holy Communion when he received a request to meet Boris Johnson on the second day of his campaign trail for re-election.

Mr Firth, who is the Priest in Charge at St Cuthbert’s and Holy Trinity in Darlington, had recently discovered the original baptism register entry for one of the Prime Minister’s distant relatives.

Research revealed that Thomas John Johnson, believed to be Mr Johnson’s three-times great grandfather, had been born in Darlington and baptised in the church Mr Firth now runs.

Mr Firth, who met Boris Johnson at Teesside Airport on Thursday, told The Northern Echo: “I’d picked up on an article published about Boris Johnson’s family having roots in the North-East and so then I looked into it and located the baptism record in St Cuthbert’s records office.”

Mr Firth was able to cross-reference existing and validated research into Mr Johnson’s ancestry before discovering the dates on the St Cuthbert’s baptism entry matched the age and reported dates of the three-times great grandfather, born in 1813.

He said: “There was already this research done into it.

"The particular link with Mr Johnson is St Cuthbert’s in the middle of Darlington is where his great-great-great grandfather was baptised.”

Darlington and Stockton Times:

On Thursday, Mr Johnson who has been in office for just over 100 days in office, met Mr Firth armed with a copy of the historic entry.

He said: “Boris kept saying ‘really, really is this really my great great grandfather.

“He was quite taken aback about it all.

“I had made a full-colour facsimile of the baptism register – he was quite surprised – maybe he can frame it in Number 10 if he stays.”

Mr Firth said the meeting with Mr Johnson had been “good fun”, and added: “It was quite quirky, usually what happens on these campaign trails is a lot of photo-taking and interaction with members of the public in the street, but this was something quite different.”

Darlington and Stockton Times:

After the chance meeting, the Prime Minister pressed on with his visit to the Tetley Tea production facility in Eaglescliffe, near Stockton, where he pledged to people in the “local area” he would “get Brexit done” so that he could focus on “everything else.”

The visit came almost four years after his predecessor David Cameron visited the site just days after being sworn into office in 2015.