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David Cameron has claimed Boris Johnson ‘has always been able to get away with things that mere mortals can’t’ in a thinly-veiled swipe at the Prime Minister.  

Mr Cameron also said he ‘never sought to avoid’ important interviews and was ‘always available’ to the media during his time in Downing Street in another apparent dig at Mr Johnson.

The pair first met at Eton College before attending Oxford University, where they both became members of the Bullingdon Club – an exclusive male-only dining club known for its lavish banquets.

They also both became Conservative MPs in 2001, Mr Johnson for Henley and Mr Cameron for Witney, before the latter became Tory leader.

A brewing rivalry came to the fore, though, when Mr Johnson backed Vote Leave in the 2016 Brexit referendum, resulting in Mr Cameron’s resignation as Prime Minister. 

The former leader was speaking to Sky News’ Adam Boulton for Feral Beasts, a new documentary exploring how Britain’s relationship with the media has changed.

And Mr Cameron said Mr Johnson may have hired his own team of professional photographers in an attempt to ‘bypass the media’.

He added: ‘Well, Boris has always been able to get away with things that mere mortals can’t seem to.

Boris Johnson (left), then Mayor of London, with former Prime Minister David Cameron at the lighting of the Paralympic Cauldron in Trafalgar Square, central London, in 2012

Boris Johnson (left), then Mayor of London, with former Prime Minister David Cameron at the lighting of the Paralympic Cauldron in Trafalgar Square, central London, in 2012

Boris Johnson (left), then Mayor of London, with former Prime Minister David Cameron at the lighting of the Paralympic Cauldron in Trafalgar Square, central London, in 2012

Mr Cameron was speaking to Sky News as part of new documentary Feral Beasts: Prime Ministers and the Media

Mr Cameron was speaking to Sky News as part of new documentary Feral Beasts: Prime Ministers and the Media

Mr Cameron was speaking to Sky News as part of new documentary Feral Beasts: Prime Ministers and the Media

‘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.

‘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 (Mr Boulton’s All Out Politics).

‘I mean, we were always available and keen to engage and to answer questions.”

Mr Cameron added: ‘The media in that way has an incredibly important role.’

When the UK left the EU at the beginning of last year, Mr Johnson’s team recorded a three-minute address to the nation, as opposed to following the tradition of having speeches covered by an independent broadcaster.

The clip, though, was subsequently snubbed by several news channels. 

Mr Johnson’s address to the nation confirming no more Covid restrictions would be introduced in England before Christmas Day was also filmed and distributed by an in-house team.

In February last year, political reporters staged a walk-out in Downing Street in protest at attempts By Number 10 to prevent several news organisations from a Government Brexit briefing.

Senior figures from the Daily Mail, Times, Sun, BBC and Sky were among those who refused to attend the event with David Frost, Boris Johnson’s then Europe advisor.

They had been invited to the technical non-political briefing by the civil servant, but organisations including the Mirror, Independent, PA Media and the Huffington Post had not.

The same month, ministers did not appear on the regular morning interview slot on BBC Radio 4’s Today show.

In response to a question on Mr Cameron’s request for an official Downing Street photographer being refused, but Mr Johnson being able to obtain an entire team, he said: ‘Well, Boris has always been able to get away with things that mere mortals can’t seem to.’

Mr Johnson and and Mr Cameron pictured together at a Conservative party election rally in Hendon, north London, in May 2015

Mr Johnson and and Mr Cameron pictured together at a Conservative party election rally in Hendon, north London, in May 2015

Mr Johnson and and Mr Cameron pictured together at a Conservative party election rally in Hendon, north London, in May 2015

The pair's rivalry came to the fore when Mr Johnson (left) backed Vote Leave in the 2016 Brexit referendum - leading to Mr Cameron's resignation

The pair's rivalry came to the fore when Mr Johnson (left) backed Vote Leave in the 2016 Brexit referendum - leading to Mr Cameron's resignation

The pair’s rivalry came to the fore when Mr Johnson (left) backed Vote Leave in the 2016 Brexit referendum – leading to Mr Cameron’s resignation

Mr Cameron has claimed Mr Johnson 'has always been able to get away with things that mere mortals can't seem to' in a thinly-veiled swipe at the Prime Minister

Mr Cameron has claimed Mr Johnson 'has always been able to get away with things that mere mortals can't seem to' in a thinly-veiled swipe at the Prime Minister

Mr Cameron has claimed Mr Johnson ‘has always been able to get away with things that mere mortals can’t seem to’ in a thinly-veiled swipe at the Prime Minister

Mr Cameron spoke to Sky News' Adam Boulton for new documentary Feral Beasts, exploring the relationship between Britain and the media

Mr Cameron spoke to Sky News' Adam Boulton for new documentary Feral Beasts, exploring the relationship between Britain and the media

Mr Cameron spoke to Sky News’ Adam Boulton for new documentary Feral Beasts, exploring the relationship between Britain and the media

And asked if a Prime Minister should always be available to the media, he added: ‘Yes – look, not every day because you have got a country to run.

‘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.’

‘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 be aired on Sky News on Thursday at 3pm and 9pm. 

The interview comes following a difficult December for Mr Johnson in which he accepted responsibility for the loss of Tory stronghold North Shropshire to the Lib Dems, while 101 Tory MPs voted against the introduction of Covid certificates for nightclubs and large events in England. 

Mr Johnson was told last week to get his Government back on track within the next six months following the loss in the North Shropshire by-election.

In one of the biggest by-election swings in history, the Lib Dems overturned a Tory majority in the North Shropshire constituency of almost 23,000 – and won by 5,925 votes.

The decisive result, which saw Helen Morgan take the seat, was described by polling expert Sir John Curtice as a political earthquake that measured ‘8.5 out of ten’ on the Richter scale.

The turnaround triggered a bitter day of recriminations and fresh questions over the Prime Minister’s authority yesterday, with Tory MPs telling him to urgently ‘get a grip’ of the No 10 operation. 

Source: Daily Mail UK

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