Tag Archives: David Cameron

Chinese business chiefs pay £12,000 for dinner with David Cameron

Fancy dinner and a photo with David Cameron?

That was what was on offer recently for wealthy business figures at an event in China – as long as they stumped up about £12,000.

Mr Cameron featured on social media adverts for the Shanghai International Ball and Leaders’ Forum, which took place earlier this week.

A photograph of the former prime minister was accompanied by a price in Chinese renminbi.

Continue reading Chinese business chiefs pay £12,000 for dinner with David Cameron


David Cameron smoking: Another U-turn?

It is a struggle many former smokers experience.

Have a few drinks and, before you know it, you’re puffing away again.

Now it seems ex-Prime Minister David Cameron – who has previously spoken of his battle to give up nicotine – is also no stranger to this predicament.

Continue reading David Cameron smoking: Another U-turn?

Britain may broadcast Putin’s financial secrets to Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with members of the government at the Kremlin in Moscow, March 4, 2015.

Britain may broadcast the financial secrets of Russia’s ruling elite as part of the information war against the Putin regime, the Foreign Secretary has indicated.

Philip Hammond said he was interested by the idea of publicising the wealth of the Russian president’s inner circle in order to embarrass them in front of their people, as part of the response to the ongoing incursion into eastern Ukraine.

The Foreign Secretary warned that Putin is rapidly modernising his armed forces, and warned Russia’s bid to destabilise eastern Europe poses “the greatest single threat” to British national security.

Mr Hammond said that Britain must now “accept” that efforts to offer Russia its “rightful place” in the post-Cold War order had been “rebuffed”.

View image on Twitter

It marks a change in tone from the British government: David Cameron has repeated said that the door is open to Russia to normalise relations if it ended the assault on Ukraine.

He warned that Russia’s rapid rearmament is a “significant cause for concern,” and confirmed that British intelligence agencies are now recruiting Russian speakers.

British diplomats in Russia and Ukraine have regularly released photographs of Russian-supplied heavy weaponry as part of an information war, highlighting the Kremlin’s role in the conflict.

View image on Twitter

The EU has applied asset freezes and visa bans to 151 Russian and Ukrainian people and 37 companies regarded as complicit in the seizure of Crimea and the invasion of east Ukraine.

The wealth of Putin’s court is opaque, but undoubtedly runs into tens of billions of dollars held in offshore accounts and property in London and New York. Many of his closest associates made their fortunes during the chaotic mass privatisations of state assets during the 1990s. Official statements of Putin’s wealth – a £96,000 a year salary, a flat and three cars – are frequently met with derision.

Asked if there was a case for the “interesting” financial arrangements of members of Putin’s inner circle to be published by the British government, Mr Hammond replied: “There might be.”

View image on Twitter

“When we talk about having further steps that we can take, increasing the pressure on Russia, one the headings that we regularly review is strategic communication: how can we message the Russian people and to people that Russia is seeking to influence about what is really going on?

“It is an interesting thought and I will make sure the Strat Comms people are thinking precisely about that.”

Mr Cameron has suggested the BBC budget should be increased to help its Russian and Ukrainian language services counter Russian television propaganda.

Mr Hammond said the “generous” attempts to integrate Russia into the post-Cold War world had failed.

Putin feels the collapse of the USSR was a humiliation, and accuses the West of seeking to neuter Russia and encroach upon its borders – provoking the incursion into Ukraine.

Mr Hammond told the Royal United Services Institute: “In the case of Russia, for two decades since the end of the Cold War, we and our allies sought to draw our old adversary into the rules-based international system. We worked in a spirit of openness, generosity and partnership, to help Russia take its rightful place, as we saw it, as a major power contributing to global stability and order. We now have to accept that those efforts have been rebuffed.

“We are now faced with a Russian leader bent not on joining the international rules-based system which which keeps the peace between nations, but on subverting it,” he said.

“President Putin’s actions – illegally annexing Crimea and now using Russian troops to destabilise eastern Ukraine – fundamentally undermine the security of sovereign nations of Eastern Europe.”

“The rapid pace with which Russia is seeking to modernise her military forces and weapons combined with the increasingly aggressive stance of the Russian military including Russian aircraft around the sovereign airspace of Nato states are all significant causes of concern.

“So we are in familiar territory for anyone over the age of about 50, with Russia’s behaviour a stark reminder that it has the potential to pose the single greatest threat to our security.”

“Continuing to gather intelligence on their capabilities and intentions will remain a vital part of our intelligence effort for the foreseeable future. It is no coincidence that all the agencies are recruiting Russian speakers again.”

Putin’s money men

The wealth of Putin’s inner circle runs to tens of billions of pounds.

Vladimir Yakunin

Vladimir Yakunin

Head of Russian Railways, the country’s biggest employer, since 2005. He has been part of Putin’s St Petersburg circle since the 1990s, and is dogged by claims from opposition activists over his wealth. He accompanies Mr Putin on overseas visit, and was in charge of construction during the Sochi Winter Olympics. He has been hit with US sanctions. His network is unknown but his official salary is $15 million.

Gennady Timchenko

Gennady Timchenko

Founder of Gunvor, the Swiss-based oil trader, he sold his stake just before being hit by US sanctions. His net worth is reckoned to be $14.5 billion, according to Forbes. Putin is said by the US to have “investments in Gunvor and may have access to Gunvor funds”. The company strongly denies that claim, and has not been subject to foreign sanctions.

Yuri Kovalchuk

Yuri Kovalchuk

Once dubbed one of Putin’s “cashiers”. He is the largest shareholder of Bank Rossiya, called by the US the “personal bank for senior officials” of Russia. He is a member of the Ozero Dacha, a community of lakeside homes of Putin and his allies. His wealth is estimated to be $1.4 billion. He is hit by US and EU sanctions.

Arkady and Boris Rotenburg

Arkady is Putin’s old judo partner, and is subject to EU sanctions.. The brothers have interests in pipelines, road construction and banking, and are presidents of Dinamo Moscow hockey and football clubs respectively. They received billions of dollars of contracts for the Sochi games. Their personal wealth is said to be $2.5 billion.

Igor Sechin
Igor Sechin

President of Rosneft, the state oil company, and the former deputy prime minister. His salary was $50 million last year. He is one of the most powerful figures in the administration, and is said to “economic interests” with Putin.


Tweets issued by the British embassy in Ukraine highlight how heavy weaponry used by separatists in the east of the country are Russian-supplied – and have highlighted the impact of sanctions on the Russian economy.

WHITE HOUSE: We Shouldn’t Have Missed France’s Unity March

ny daily news paris

The White House said on Monday that it was a mistake not to send President Barack Obama or another high-profile representative to a massive anti-terror rally in France the day before.

“I think it’s fair to say that we should have sent someone of a higher profile to be there,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said at his regular media briefing.

Obama was widely criticized for not attending Sunday’s rally, which condemned last Wednesday’s jihadist attack against the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine. Twelve people were killed in the initial attack including police officers and several of the magazine’s staffers.

Many other prominent world leaders attended the march, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Jordanian King Abdullah II, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

world leaders in parisAnadolu Agency/Contributor/Getty ImagesWorld leaders gathered in Paris in a show of unity. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (second from left), Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (third from left), French President Francois Hollande (third from right), and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (second from right).

More than 3.7 people marched throughout France, according to the government’s estimate. Organizers described the demonstration as the largest in French history.

Some have suggested that, if Obama could not be there, he should have at least sent his vice president, secretary of state, or attorney general. The front page of Monday’s New York Daily News declared that Obama and other senior officials “let the world down” by skipping the rally. Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris at the time for meetings, but he did not attend the march.

Earnest also argued that logistical and security concerns also presented “challenges” for Obama to attend.

“Had the circumstances been a little bit different, I think the president himself would have liked to have had the opportunity to be there,” he said. “The planning for which only began on Friday night, and 36 hours later it had begun. What’s also clear is that the security requirements around a presidential-level visit — or even a vice presidential-level visit — are onerous and significant.”

Paris rallyAP Photo/Peter DejongThousands of people gather at Republique square in Paris, France, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015.

Obama likes to call me ‘bro’ sometimes, says Cameron

Barack Obama is so close to David Cameron that the US President calls him “bro”, the Prime Minister has revealed.

The famously
The famous selfie taken at Nelson Mandela’s funeral

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, Mr Cameron described the famously “special” relationship between Washington and Westminster as “stronger than it has ever been, privately and in public,” and that during phone calls Obama refers to him as “bro”.

The pair chuckling away at this year's G7 Summit in Belgium
The pair chuckling away at this year’s G7 Summit in Belgium

For those less well-versed in youth vernacular, the Urban Dictionary helpfully defines the term as describing “an alpha male idiot” or “obnoxious partying males often seen at college parties”.

A classic practical joke by Cameron at the Nato summit in 2012
A classic practical joke by Cameron at the Nato summit in 2012

“Bro” may also describe a type of bra designed specifically for men.

The boys are at it again during this year's G20 Summit
The boys are at it again during this year’s G20 Summit

However, perhaps it should be assumed Obama uses it as a term of endearment, to mean close pals or “brothers”.

Obama enjoying one of Cameron's jokes at a visit to the White House
Obama enjoying one of Cameron’s jokes at a visit to the White House

Either way, it can be seen as a step forward from George W Bush’s condescending idiom: “Yo, Blair.”

Team work makes the dream work: the two 'bros' playing table tennis at the Globe Academy School in London, 2011
Team work makes the dream work: the two ‘bros’ playing table tennis at the Globe Academy School in London, 2011

As if we needed any more proof of the blossoming bromance, here are some pictures of the transatlantic “bros” looking all buddied-up.

The UK Has A Plan To Cut Off Russian Businesses From The Rest Of The World


The United Kingdom will push the European Union this weekend to consider the most punitive sanctions yet against Russia for its involvement in escalating the crisis in Ukraine.

According to Bloomberg, the U.K. plans to propose blocking Russia from the SWIFT banking transaction system, a move analysts say would effectively cut off Russian businesses from the rest of the world’s financial system.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron will put forward the proposal during a meeting with E.U. leaders in Brussels on Saturday.

“This would be a major escalation of the sanctions. Most international payments flow through SWIFT. Banning Russian banks and companies from SWIFT would effectively cut off Russian businesses from the rest of world,” said Bruce Johnston, a London-based analyst at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.

“It would also have a major impact on European businesses who need to paid by Russians, and want to consume Russian energy.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Belarus on Aug. 27

The move would have a significant effect on Russia’s banking sector, as many financial institutions across the world use the system. According to SWIFT’s website, it transmitted more than 21 million financial messages per day in July.

It helped process payments among more than 10,500 financial institutions and corporations across 215 different countries.

Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, compared the potential move to one leveled on Iranian institutions in 2012.

“SWIFT is the electronic bloodstream of the global financial system,” he told Business Insider in an email. “Cancelling Putin’s credit card could have far reaching consequences for the Russian economy as Iran discovered when scores of its financial institutions were expelled from SWIFT in 2012.”

David cameron

David Cameron will propose blocking Russia from the SWIFT network.

The U.S. and E.U. have imposed multiple rounds of sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine. Most recently last month, they leveled targeted sanctions on Russia’s energy, arms, and finance sectors. But so far, the sanctions have not changed the calculus of Russia or President Vladimir Putin.

This week, the conflict has sharply escalated, as Ukraine, NATO, and the West said Russia sent troops across the border to fight with pro-Russian separatist rebels in eastern regions of the country. 

This week, the rebels have opened a new front in the cities of Amvrosiivka and Starobeshevo. One fear is that Russia is attempting to create a land link between Russia and the strategic peninsula of Crimea, which Russia annexed with special forces troops in March.

Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseyev

Poroshenko said Russian troops are leading a separatist counteroffensive in the east, bringing in tanks and firing artillery from inside Ukrainian territory.

President Barack Obama and European leaders have agreed on the need for new “costs” in the wake of the latest escalation, but officials in both areas are questioning the legitimacy of the strategy.

In the U.S., multiple Republican lawmakers have called on Obama to provide military assistance to Ukraine, saying a political resolution to the conflict is not possible if Russia continues to pursue its goals through military means.

In Europe, geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group told Business Insider he expected there to be high-profile breaks among leaders on the sanctions strategy.

“It’s hard to see the west holding off for much longer in not calling Russian forces an invasion. That leads to more ‘level 3’ (sector wide) sanctions on Russia, yes, but we’ll now see a real fragmentation of European leaders publicly calling the policy a failure and looking to break from further coordination,” Bremmer said.

“After all, many Europeans have been deeply skeptical of Russian sanctions from the beginning, and to the extent that the purpose of sanctions was to prevent an invasion. That’s clearly failed.”

Senior Obama administration officials declined to comment about possible new sanctions on Russia during a conference call with reporters Friday about new sanctions leveled on individuals and businesses in relation to Iran’s nuclear program.

An administration official did not immediately respond to a subsequent request for comment.

Jogger in PM security alert had ‘no idea’ what happened

Dean Balboa Perry being taken away by police after the incident

A member of the public who caused a security alert when he bumped into David Cameron in Leeds has said he had “no idea” it was the prime minister.

Dean Farley said he was only aware that he had collided with Mr Cameron an hour after he had been arrested by police.

He insisted he was “not particularly political” and was just going out on his daily lunchtime jog to the gym when he ran into a “bunch of men in suits”.

Mr Cameron has downplayed the incident, now the subject of a police review.

Mr Cameron entering his car after the incident

Mr Cameron was quickly driven away from the scene after the encounter outside the Civic Hall in Leeds.

West Yorkshire Police said “nothing sinister” had taken place but the Metropolitan Police, which provides personal security for the prime minister, said there would be a review of the incident.

The prime minister was in Leeds to launch government plans to upgrade rail links in the north of England.

A member of Mr Cameron’s security team intervened as a man appeared to dart towards the prime minister. Officers then bundled the man away as the prime minister got into a waiting vehicle.

Man surrounded by police offers after running into David Cameron

‘Funny side’

Mr Farley later revealed himself to be the man at the centre of the incident, saying he was not a protester and was totally unaware the prime minister was visiting the city.

“I didn’t see David Cameron. I didn’t know it was David Cameron until they let me out of the police van an hour later,” Mr Farley, who was eventually released without charge, said.

The 28-year old said he was on the way to his local gym for a session with his personal trainer when he crossed the road outside the council building.

“All I saw were a group of men in suits who came out of the Civic Hall.”

David Cameron

He added: “It begs the question – how good is Cameron’s security if I managed to run between it before they stopped me?”

Mr Farley, who was carrying a towel but no ID at the time, said it had been “harrowing” to find himself “harangued and manhandled” by police and not being told why he had been arrested.

“I’m quite shook up. I was almost in shock, like I’d been in an accident or something.”

The media reaction to the incident had been “insane”, he said, adding that many of his friends wanted to buy him a drink and he could see the “funny side”.

Man runs into PM

“I kind of wish I had been protesting something or I had had something to say”, he added.

‘No threats’

Following the incident, Chief Inspector Derek Hughes of West Yorkshire Police said: ”Around midday, a 28-year-old local man was briefly arrested after he came close to the prime minister’s group who had just left the Civic Hall in Leeds.

”No threats were made, and after the man’s details were checked, he was de-arrested and allowed on his way.”

The BBC’s Tom Symonds said a member of Mr Cameron’s party told him the prime minister stepped back as the man ran towards him and was not in contact with him.

The prime minister’s close security is generally provided by officers from SO1 Specialist Protection, part of the Metropolitan Police’s Protection Command.

David Cameron

Labour MP Keith Vaz said he would be “astonished” if there was not a review of procedures.

“It could have ended in a completely different scenario,” he told Sky News, adding that Mr Farley’s actions had caused a “great deal of concern”.

‘Prescott punch’

But former Met officer Peter Power said that although “questions would be asked” about the incident, it was “not catastrophic” and was unlikely to lead to major changes.

He told BBC News that the fact that the man had been taken away so quickly showed the police response “worked reasonably well”.

But former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott, who punched a protester during the 2001 general election campaign after being hit by an egg, said the episode proved that security around top politicians needed to be “tightened up”.

David Cameron

And speaking during a parliamentary statement on last week’s EU summit, Mr Cameron jokingly made reference to the so-called “Prescott punch”.

“I was actually in a meeting in Leeds speaking to a group of city leaders and other politicians and John Prescott was in the room as I gave the speech,” he told MPs.

David Cameron

“And as I left the room I thought the moment of maximum danger had probably passed but clearly that wasn’t the case.”

Mr Cameron said he wanted to put on record the “debt” he owed to those who protect him on a daily basis, saying they did a “very good job”.

David Cameron

It comes less than a week after a man threw a bag of marbles at the glass screen which separates the public from MPs in the House of Commons.

That incident took place during Prime Minister’s Questions.