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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Jeremy Corbyn ends 2016 with victory - for Parliamentary Beard of the Year

The award's founder thinks Tom Watson could still beat him, though. 

Jeremy Corbyn may be facing a by-election backlash, but there is one area in which he is the undisputed victor - the Parliamentary Beard of the Year awards.

Corbyn has held onto his title in 2016 thanks to a "beard and eyebrow combo" that left facial-hair lovers watching Prime Minister's Questions stunned. 

The Opposition leader scored a similar victory to his recent leadership election, with more than half the poll. It is his seventh win since 2001. 

Keith Flett, the spokesman for the Beard Liberation Front which awards the prize, praised Corbyn for leading the way in acceptance of unshaven politicians.

He said: "It used to be tough to scrape together a list of 10 MPs. That is no longer a problem.

"I am not sure you hear people saying 'I wouldn't vote for Corbyn because he has a beard', which you would have 20 years ago."

Flett believes many more MPs could have had a shot at victory, if they would only dispense with their razors.

He said: "We always thought that David Cameron would have been vastly improved by having a beard. but there was always some doubt as to whether that was ever possible."

Flett also mourns the demise of Labour deputy leader Tom Watson's beard, which clinched the prize in 2009.

He said: "He had a magnificent beard, which he subsequently shaved off, because he claimed his partner didn't like it, and he has refused all entreaties to regrow it.

"We had a conversation recently where he said the key thing he had in common with Corbyn was they both won Beard of the Year."

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.