SEVERAL dozen political hacks were yesterday treated to an unusual dinner guest as David Cameron became the first serving Prime Minister to attend their regular parliamentary lunch club in 31 years.
Asked about how he saw his role, he gave a concise summary of his prime ministerial style: “I see myself as more of a chairman. I don’t want to be chief executive or chief financial officer or even chief operating officer, as my predecessor sometimes tried to be,” he explained. As for whether he wanted former first secretary of the Treasury David Laws to return to power – and when, he was even more plainspoken: “Yes – and soon.”
But it was the diminutive House of Commons speaker John Bercow (who chairs Prime Ministers’ Questions each week)?who provided the PM’s most entertaining material.
Recalling health minister Simon Burns’ dislike for the speaker, Cameron recounted how Burns had somehow managed to persuade his driver to reverse into Bercow’s parked car. The pint-sized speaker, spotting the mishap, came running down into the courtyard where he confronted Burns straight off: “I’m not happy!” he declared. “Which one are you then?” demanded Burns.
After a brief anecdote in which he recalled hauling President Barack Obama out of the girls’ bathroom at the G20 summit, Cameron moved onto Europe.
After one long, tough negotiation about bailout mechanisms, he said, Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi “tried to lighten the mood with a joke,” Cameron recalled. “The first line of it was ‘why did the chicken cross the road?’ But the next line was so dirty that the interpreter refused to translate it!”
Gives one faith in international bailout talks, doesn’t it?
The senior management of the Foresters Friendly Society, including chief executive Kevin Dann and Neil Armitage (pictured top right) were given some target practice outside the Tower of London yesterday, as the organisation celebrated the signing of a three-year partnership with the UK’s Olympic and Paralympic archery teams. Aside from sponsoring the team, Foresters will be working to promote the sport of archery among its 70,000 members. And in turn, Britain’s best archers will be given the chance to sign up to a variety of financial products courtesy of Foresters. If nothing else, at least the pairing should keep one side on target.
CITY CHRISTMAS FAIR
Christmas fair season has arrived and with it one of the City’s oldest gentlemen’s clubs will be opening its doors to the public for the first time in its history. The City of London Club, founded in 1832 and boasting a past membership of the first Duke of Wellington and Sir John Peel, will be hosting a sizeable Christmas fair today in aid of armed forces veterans charity Help for Heroes and kids’ charity Coram. Every conceivable knick-knack will be on sale: Christmas pudding, shotgun cartridges, hand-knitted garters, pork pies, teddy bears, gin, cigars and so on.
And among the seasonal goodies you’ll find at least a couple more sober offerings, from Strutt & Parker Private Investors and By Association, a grouping of businesses including everything from property investors to vintage car sales.
The fair runs until 8.30pm today at 19 Old Broad Street.