William and Cherie pair up on desert island reading

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THEY BOTH have questionable dress sense, take a pretty poor photograph and have spouses more famous than themselves. But it emerged yesterday that the otherwise unlikely pairing of William Hague and Cherie Blair have yet another feature in common.

THEY BOTH have questionable dress sense, take a pretty poor photograph and have spouses more famous than themselves. But it emerged yesterday that the otherwise unlikely pairing of William Hague and Cherie Blair have yet another feature in common.

In a development that may worry their respective partners, the Prime Minister's wife and the Leader of the Opposition have revealed that if they were marooned on a desert island, they would choose to read the same book.

A display of the literary choices of the famous at Guildford Public Library shows that Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks is the common favourite of Mrs Blair and Mr Hague.

The display, which forms part of the Surrey city's annual book festival, is designed to stimulate interest among people of all ages and to encourage them to read more regularly.

" Birdsong is a deeply moving book and a story of great personal, physical and emotional courage," writes Mr Hague in the guide to the exhibition. "Ideal for a long stay on a desert island."

A lengthy sojourn on a remote desert island may be exactly what John Major, Chris Patten and Douglas Hurd want for the embattled Conservative Party leader at the moment, but Mrs Blair was equally proud of her choice.

Less controversially, Tony Blair chose Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott as his own favourite book, while Mr Hague's favourite politician, Baroness Thatcher, opted for A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens.

The list of celebrities also included Magnus Magnusson, former presenter of Mastermind , who started and finished with The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of the English Language by David Crystal.

The festival, which runs until later this month, has the former world motor racing champion Jackie Stewart selecting Jeffrey Archer as his favourite novelist and the football pundit Jimmy Hill choosing Richmal Crompton's Just William stories.

The actress Nanette Newman kept it in the family by choosing her husband Bryan Forbes's latest novel, The Memory of All That . She explained that it would be the "ultimate luxury" to have on her desert island a book "written by the man I love".

First prize for unashamed self-promotion must, however, go to the cricket umpire Dickie Bird, who selected Dickie Bird - My Autobiography .

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