Sport relief

Pictures of leaders demonstrating their sporting prowess.

It's important for all of us to stay fit and healthy but it's especially vital when you're tasked with running a country. With all those decisions, discussions and meetings, it's essential that our leaders take time to clear their heads, burn off some calories and occasionally tear a few muscles.

Here are examples of our leaders embarking on really strenuous exercise.

Earlier this month David Cameron was caught showing off his table tennis skills at a London primary school. He clearly didn't do enough to impress the kids in the background.

Perhaps an adviser must have mentioned that being a dab hand at table tennis was a requisite for high office.

Maybe it's Labour protocol never to judge members by their sporting ability, but despite all his training with Kevin Keegan, Tony Blair could really do with some practice.

Similarly, Bush Sr lacked any semblance of technique. But he can be forgiven -- at least he dressed the part.

Like father, like son. Bush Jr was once a managing partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Based on the evidence here, though, he can never have expected to play.

Unlike Hugo Chávez, Bush couldn't display the levels of commitment, enthusiasm and perspiration necessary to succeed in professional baseball.

Have we missed any sporting titans from the political arena? Let us have your suggestions below.

All photographs from AFP/Getty Images.

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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.