Sketch: Euro-rage succeeds where quip falls flat


Prime Ministerial apology alert! It was only four short words. But it showed justified remorse for what must be – despite the stiff competition – the most terrible dispatch box joke during this Parliament.

The Tory Anne McIntosh had asked him to urge his new best friend Premier Li Keqiang to “unlock” the barrier to UK exports to China of pig’s feet, which she optimistically suggested would “ensure the long-term economic growth of north Yorkshire”.

Promising to do so, Cameron pointed out he had already smoothed the way to exports of “pig semen”, and then claimed to recall that the press release at the time referred to the “Pig Society”. Pig–Big. Get it? Many MPs didn’t, and seeing that he had “died”, as they say in stand-up, he added in rueful self-deprecation: “Sorry about that one.”

Admittedly, it was not much of a day for jokes of any kind, rightly dominated as it was by Iraq. When the venerable Tory Sir Peter Tapsell made the startling suggestion that in the absence of the long-awaited Chilcot report impeachment proceedings should start against Tony Blair, Cameron said sharply that the inquiry might have begun – and finished – much earlier if Labour, including Ed Miliband, had not initially voted four times against having it while in government.

But when it came to the Miliband/Cameron exchanges on what was happening now, the two leaders were serious, bipartisan and eloquent, while failing to lift the sense that no one in the West has much idea of how to prevent Iraq being dragged deeper into mass sectarian violence.

On Europe, however, thrilled Tory backbenchers roared with approval at Cameron’s Thatcher-like promise to “fight… right to the very end” for the right of European leaders – and not the European Parliament which wants Jean-Claude Juncker – to pick the European Commission President. 

One such Tory, Sir William Cash, revealed details of an Athens weekend conference he had attended of “the national chairmen of the European Select Committees [and]… chairmen of the European parliamentary committees”.

Once at this unmissable, if presumably not ouzo-fuelled, jamboree the Brits had seen off an (admittedly fairly breathtaking) attempt to classify “Euroscepticism” as “equivalent to xenophobia and racism”. And secured the agreement of the conference that the procedure by which the dreaded Luxembourger looked like being elected was “unprecedented, unacceptable and unsuccessful”.

Earlier, Sir John Major had described Juncker as having been a “very fine Prime Minister of Luxembourg” – a brilliantly condescending put-down.

But at least he pronounced him correctly. Sir William showed the depth of his disdain for the prime candidate by calling him “Junker” –as in “junk” – instead of the more normal “Yoonker”.

“Junker” maybe, but despite the British PM’s best efforts, not junked.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living