David Cameron denies claims he ran 'government of chums' under which his friends were rewarded

Former Prime Minister responded to allegations made in a tell-all diary and insists his friendships never 'tipped over into cronyism'

David Cameron was said to be "incandescent with rage" at Michael Gove over the Brexit referendum
David Cameron was said to be "incandescent with rage" at Michael Gove over the Brexit referendum Credit: GETTY IMAGES

David Cameron has denied presiding over a “government of chums” where his friends received favourable treatment in response to the tell-all diary from a Conservative MP’s wife. 

The former Prime Minister broke his silence following the publication of extracts from Diary of an MP’s Wife: Inside and Outside Power, the book written by Sasha Swire, the wife of Sir Hugo, over the couple’s 20 years in politics. 

In one extract of the book, Lady Swire recalls visiting Mr Cameron and his wife Samantha at their home the weekend after the EU referendum. 

She said Mr Cameron asked them to come “with two fat Cohibas and plenty of booze”. 

“When Dave arrives, he makes a lethal negroni before we progress to endless bottles of wine, whisky and brandy,” she writes in the book adding that Mr Cameron was “incandescent with anger” after the referendum result which was “almost wholly” directed against his Cabinet colleague Michael Gove. 

Read more: There's nothing more captivating than a salacious, snobbish diary

Sasha Swire, the author of the book, and her husband Hugo, a former Tory MP Credit: SHUTTERSTOCK

Responding to the tell-all memoir,  Mr Cameron told Anne McElvoy for The Economist Asks podcast that he dislikes having “things said in private” made public but conceded: “If you don’t want your character or other things to be questioned, then politics probably isn’t the career for you.” 

The book portrays a close relationship between George Osborne and his now ex-wife Frances, the Goves, the Camerons and the Swires but Mr Cameron denied his friendships ever “tipped over into any form of cronyism”.

In another passage, Mrs Swire writes about an alleged incident she claims occurred in August 2011 during a three-day break to Cornwall. 

She wrote: “At one point, on the coastal path, he (David Cameron) asks me not to walk ahead of him. 'Why?' I ask, and he says: 'Because that scent you are wearing is affecting my pheromones. It makes me want to grab you and push you into the bushes and give you one!'

“This is not flirting by the prime minister. This is probably lewdness. But hell, I'm so starved of masculine interest at my age it made me smile.'”

On Brexit, Mr Cameron said he “takes a different line” from fellow ex-Prime Ministers John Mayor and Tony Blair who criticised Boris Johnson in a joint article in The Sunday Times over his plans to tear up parts of the Withdrawal Agreement which they said would jeopardise peace in Northern Ireland. 

Mr Cameron told The Economist: “I’m not one of these people that thinks that we can't make a success of these new arrangements. We're going to have to make sure that we are good friends, neighbours and partners to the EU, rather than members and I think once we've got this deal in place, that is perfectly possible to do.”

Mr Cameron argued that the proposal to override elements of the Withdrawal Agreement was made in the context of ongoing negotiations with the EU. 

“There's an awful long way to go before that happens,” he said. 

Mr Cameron refused to say whether or not he regretted using Prince Andrew as a trade ambassador despite his links to Jeffrey Epstein. 

“My memory of this is it was during my prime ministership that Prince Andrew stepped back from his trade role,” he said.