Johnson can “get away with things others can’t” says David Cameron

David Cameron

"David Cameron at the 37th G8 Summit in D" (CC BY 2.0) by Guillaume Paumier

The ex-prime minister David Cameron has said that the current PM Boris Johnson can “get away with things that mere mortals can’t seem to” in an interview for a new documentary about the press in Britain.

He also suggests the team around Johnson has forever changed the relationship No 10 has with the press in the country, calling it an “arms race” between politicians and the media to outwit one another.

Since Boris Johnson came into power, he has hired personal photographers onto the staff at Downing Street who often take photographs at important events instead of photographers from newspapers and media organisations. Johnson has also used taped clips to make announcements – including most recently the announcement of no new restrictions before Christmas – instead of appearing at a press conference or in front of MPs.

David Cameron was speaking to Adam Boulton for a new documentary exploring Britain and the media, and explained how he thought that the relationship had become more “adversarial”.

“I think there has been a bit of an arms race in a way,” Cameron said. “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.”

The comment about Johnson being able to ‘get away with’ more than others came after Cameron himself was declined a personal photographer when in office. He also pledged to have monthly press conferences but they were soon taking off the agenda, prompting claims he was avoiding the press.

“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,” Cameron said. “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. I mean, we were always available and keen to engage and to answer questions.”

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Written by

Claire Gordon