The political art of the denial
"I have never stood for the leadership of my party and regardless of the circumstances I never will," says the Labour MP Alan Johnson.
His words seem categorical. Mr Johnson says he would never "stand as leader" - but could he still become leader after an unopposed "coronation"?
It may be surprising that such questions are asked around Westminster when the denial seems as final as it could be to the casual listener.
But the long history of the "non-denial denial" - the term coined by the late Washington Post editor, Ben Bradlee, during the Watergate scandal - means that every word spoken in such cases is pored over to see if any wiggle room is left, as these high profile cases from the archives demonstrate:
Michael Howard and the Tory leadership
In 2002, the then shadow chancellor Michael Howard gave an interview to the BBC .
"I have no interest or desire in becoming leader of the Conservative Party, because we have an excellent leader in Iain Duncan Smith, whom I wholeheartedly support," he said.
"I will never stand again for the leadership of the Conservative Party," he added.
A year later, he was crowned leader unopposed after Iain Duncan Smith was ousted. The argument was that Mr Howard had technically not gone back on his word; he was asked to be leader rather than "standing" as leader.
Obviously it would be an undeniable failure on our part not to include a reference here to Mr Howard's famous grilling by BBC Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman in 1997.
Another Michael and the Tory leadership
"I can foresee no circumstances under which a challenge would take place," said Michael Heseltine in 1990, when asked about his ambitions to succeed an increasingly unpopular Margaret Thatcher.
Within two months, the circumstances he was previously unable to foresee had all of a sudden presented themselves.
Like many heirs apparent, however, he never actually won the prize so long forecast to come his way.
Tony Blair and tuition fees
In 1997, just before the general election, Tony Blair was asked whether Labour would introduce tuition fees for higher education.
His answer was: "Labour has no plans to introduce tuition fees for higher education." When Mr Blair's government went on to introduce tuition fees in 1998, critics claimed the wording was deliberately misleading.
Labour went on to promise: "We will not introduce 'top-up' fees and have legislated to prevent them."
Ministers claimed the fee increase that followed was "variable" not "top-up".
Bill Clinton and "that woman"
In 1998, Bill Clinton became only the second US President to be impeached, over the Monica Lewinsky affair.
The case hinged on his famous statement "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."
As prosecutors attempted to prove that oral sex did constitute sexual relations, lurid details emerged of the president's behaviour.
During his grand jury testimony, Clinton defended his statement that "there's nothing going on between us" on the basis that he had no relationship with Ms Lewinsky at the time he was questioned.
"It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is," he said. "If 'is' means 'is and never has been', that's one thing. If it means 'there is none', that was a completely true statement."
David Miliband: "Not a candidate"
When Tony Blair announced his resignation in 2007, David Miliband was thought to be considering a bid to succeed him.
His choice of phrase - "I am not a candidate" - was seen as sufficiently ambiguous to allow him to keep his options open.
But in his case, his wording was seen as so open that his failure to mount a challenge led to his being portrayed by some as indecisive. He did eventually run for the leadership, but not until after Gordon Brown's resignation in 2010, when he lost out narrowly to his younger brother Ed.
Boris Johnson and the reincarnated olive
One politician in particular has mastered the art of the humorously evasive answer to a tricky question.
Pressed over his ambitions, Boris Johnson has, over the years, declared himself more likely to be "decapitated by a frisbee, blinded by a champagne cork, locked in a fridge or reincarnated as an olive" than to become prime minister.
When pushed further by the BBC documentary maker Michael Cockerell, his answer was only slightly clearer. He would like to "have a crack" at it, he said, "if the ball came loose from the back of a scrum".
He's standing for Parliament in 2015, and his words are taken as meaning he will be a contender when the vacancy as Conservative leader arrives.