David Cameron’s lobbying record ‘a disgrace’ says McCoy
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Former Prime Minister David Cameron, 55, sat down with Sky’s Adam Boulton, 62, for the network’s documentary Feral Beasts: Prime Ministers and the Media. Mr Cameron, who left No10 after he lost the 2016 Brexit referendum, also spoke about how Boris Johnson, 57, has managed to get away with things other people struggle to do.
Speaking about how Mr Johnson has assembled a team of photographers while his request to add them to his Downing Street team had been rejected, Mr Cameron said: “Well, Boris has always been able to get away with things that mere mortals can’t seem to.”
He added: “But, look, I think you shouldn’t do this to bypass the media.
“You go on having… whether it is press conferences or interviews or media events – this is important.”
Looking back at his own time in No10, Mr Cameron said: “And I always did.
“Yes, the press conferences were rather infrequent but I never held back from going on the Today programme and coming on your show [All Out Politics].
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He added he “never sought to avoid” the “important interviews” during his six years in No10.
Mr Johnson shocked many in Westminster during the 2019 General Election campaign after he refused to appear for an interview with the hard-hitting former BBC political presenter Andrew Neil, 72.
Despite Mr Cameron’s recollections, Mr Boulton said something rather different about the former Prime Minister’s relationship with the press.
“Mr Cameron embraced the control element of New Labour, not the openness,” he said.
Mr Boulton, who will leave Sky News after working for the network for 32 years, added: “He avoided regular news conferences and cut back on interviews.
“He took a back seat in two referendums for which his premiership will be remembered, on Scottish independence and EU membership.”
Mr Cameron also snubbed requests by ex-Labour leader Ed Miliband, 51, to hold a head-to-head debate in the build-up to the 2015 General Election, instead opting to appear in separate question and answer sessions.
But when asked if Prime Ministers should always be available to the media, the ex-Witney MP said: “Yes – look, not every day because you have got a country to run.
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“But I think, you know, the important interviews – whether it is the BBC Sunday morning programme or the Today programme or Sky News, TV debates – these are important, and I never sought to avoid them.
Mr Johnson had been accused of deploying tactics used by ex-US President Donald Trump, 75, after he banned Ministers from appearing on the BBC’s Today programme.
No10 had invoked a similar screentime ban on ITV’s Good Morning Britain show.
Both bans have since been lifted.
Cameron added: “I think there has been a bit of an arms race in a way.
“Politicians have tooled up with special advisers and the spin doctors, and the media have tooled up by even more aggressive gotcha interviews to get that magic moment.
“I think we have got to try and have a relationship still distant and confrontational by moments – but understanding that you have got legitimate questions, but we have also got a responsibility to explain what we are doing.
“And can we try and find a bit of space for those things to coexist.”
Feral Beasts: Prime Ministers and the Media will air on Sky News today at 9pm and will continue to be shown on Sky News throughout the festive period.
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