‘Toff’ Cameron dodges Marr’s pill question
The Mole: EU referendum question dominates the Andrew Marr show
Well, Andrew Marr had his go at being Jeremy Paxman - asking David Cameron approximately 12 times what the hell he was going to do about Europe following the Irish 'Yes' vote - and Cameron did his best impersonation of Michael Howard, saying absolutely nothing in return.
The Conservative party's position remained the same, said the Tory leader. If the Lisbon Treaty is still not ratified by the time his party comes to power - May next year, most likely, if everything goes smoothly - then there will be an instant referendum.
But, as an increasingly frustrated Marr kept pointing out, the treaty almost certainly will have been ratified by then! Only Poland and the Czech Republic have still to sign on the dotted line and even in the latter case - complicated by a constitutional argument - it is expected that the treaty will be ratified within three to six months.
And six months from now - come on Cameron, what school did you go to? - is April. And April comes before May. Ergo (ask Boris) it's all going to be over by the time you come to power.
The Mole doesn't often feel for Andrew Marr, but this Sunday morning he did.
The fact is, of course, that the last thing Cameron needs as his Manchester party conference gets underway today is a nasty row over Europe. Hence the Sunday paper headlines about getting the jobless off welfare and into training and Cameron's plaintive mantra to Marr that he didn't want to do anything to "undermine or prejudice" the ratification proceedings in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Once Marr gave up on Europe, what readers of The First Post wanted to know was: would he have the balls to ask Cameron any of the eight suitably 'intrusive' questions my colleague Seth Jacobson suggested on Friday? Questions that might get under the Tory leader's skin the way the 'pill' question had riled Gordon Brown the previous Sunday.
Would he ask Cameron about drugs at Eton, his pact with Rupert Murdoch or his friendship with George Osborne? In the event, Marr went for the 'rich toff' option.
"A lot of people don't understand quite who you are," Marr started off, relatively tamely. Then, with the Bullingdon Club picture displayed on the monitor behind him, he suddenly suggested that Cameron was "a wealthy man and a toff" who didn't "really understand the people out there".
Cameron, waving his hand to block his view of the Bullingdon picture, said he was "of course very embarrassed" by that period of his life, at which point Marr sprang the £30m question: "What's the personal wealth of you and your wife?"
Amid a lot of nervous discussion about London house prices - which "change all the time" - Cameron admitted that, with a nice house in west London and two decent salaries coming in, "We're definitely a well-off family". But he was allowed to get away with claiming simply that the Sunday Times Rich List figure of £30m was way off-target.
It was not Cameron's finest hour. But neither was it Marr's. ·
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