Cameron fails citizenship test on David Letterman show

Prime Minister left red-faced after he fails to give the English for Magna Carta.

While it wasn't the toughest interrogation he'll ever face, David Cameron still endured several awkward moments during his appearance on the David Letterman show last night. Challenged by Letterman to name who composed Rule Britannia as part of a mock British citizenship test, Cameron incorrectly answered "Elgar" (the correct answer, as revealed at the end of the show, was the little-known Thomas Arne). Less forgivable, perhaps, was the Prime Minister's failure to know the English for Magna Carta (Grand Charter), an omission that won't have impressed the Latinophile Boris Johnson. "You have found me out. That is bad, I have ended my career on your show tonight," Cameron joked at one point.

He went on to redeem himself, in the eyes of US viewers at least, by successfully explaining the difference between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and by displaying some awareness of the complex history of Anglo American relations. "We interfered in your politics 200 years ago when we sailed up the river and burnt the White House," Cameron said, in reference to the war of 1812.

The full video isn't available yet, but you can watch a short clip of the interview above.

David Cameron joked "I have ended my career" after stumbling over a series of questions on British history.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Donald Trump's healthcare failure could be to his advantage

The appearance of weakness is less electorally damaging than actually removing healthcare from millions of people.

Good morning. Is it all over for Donald Trump? His approval ratings have cratered to below 40%. Now his attempt to dismantle Barack Obama's healthcare reforms have hit serious resistance from within the Republican Party, adding to the failures and retreats of his early days in office.

The problem for the GOP is that their opposition to Obamacare had more to do with the word "Obama" than the word "care". The previous President opted for a right-wing solution to the problem of the uninsured in a doomed attempt to secure bipartisan support for his healthcare reform. The politician with the biggest impact on the structures of the Affordable Care Act is Mitt Romney.

But now that the Republicans control all three branches of government they are left in a situation where they have no alternative to Obamacare that wouldn't either a) shred conservative orthodoxies on healthcare or b) create numerous and angry losers in their constituencies. The difficulties for Trump's proposal is that it does a bit of both.

Now the man who ran on his ability to cut a deal has been forced to make a take it or leave plea to Republicans in the House of Representatives: vote for this plan or say goodbye to any chance of repealing Obamacare.

But that's probably good news for Trump. The appearance of weakness and failure is less electorally damaging than actually succeeding in removing healthcare from millions of people, including people who voted for Trump.

Trump won his first term because his own negatives as a candidate weren't quite enough to drag him down on a night when he underperformed Republican candidates across the country. The historical trends all make it hard for a first-term incumbent to lose. So far, Trump's administration is largely being frustrated by the Republican establishment though he is succeeding in leveraging the Presidency for the benefit of his business empire.

But it may be that in the failure to get anything done he succeeds in once again riding Republican coattails to victory in 2020.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.