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U.K.’s Cameron Says on U.S. Talk Show He’s Not Popular

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Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron spent the earlier part of the day meeting Mideast leaders and addressing the UN. Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Sept. 27 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said budget cuts have hurt his popularity with constituents at home as he sparred with U.S. talk-show host David Letterman about Britain’s policies and history.

During an interview recorded yesterday with the host of CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman,” Cameron said he was “not very popular at the moment.” The appearance came during the premier’s visit to New York for the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

“We have got this big budget deficit, so we have had to do a lot of cuts and we have made a lot of difficult decisions, so that makes you unpopular,” the prime minister said. The show aired last night.

Cameron defended his government’s decision not to join the group of European nations using the euro currency. “I think you are going to end up effectively with some form of single government,” he said. “I don’t want to be part of a country called Europe.”

Letterman also quizzed Cameron about British history. He found the premier’s knowledge lacking about the composer of “Rule Britannia” (Thomas Arne set a 1740 poem by James Thomson, a Scot, to music) and what the name of the founding document of the nation’s democracy, “Magna Carta,” means (“Great Charter” in Latin).

“You’ve found me out,” Cameron joked. “I’ve ended my career on your show tonight.”

Campaign Spending

He drew applause from the studio audience when he outlined British rules that limit spending on political campaigns. “We don’t allow political parties to advertise on television,” Cameron said.

The premier sidestepped the issue of gun control, saying that while Britain favors tough laws, he could “respect” the U.S. tradition of gun-ownership rights.

Asked today how he rated his performance on the show, Cameron said: “I’m a history obsessive, so I’m sorry I didn’t do better. I think when I get home and do my children’s homework maybe I need to sit down and do a little bit extra myself.”

The premier was speaking in Brazil, during a visit to open a JC Bamford Excavators Ltd. construction-vehicle assembly plant near Sao Paulo, after flying overnight from New York.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has twice appeared on Letterman since leaving office in 2007, making Cameron the first serving British premier to be a guest on the show. U.S. President Barack Obama appeared on the program last week.

Alongside Cameron in the British-themed episode of Letterman’s show was actor Jonny Lee Miller, promoting his television series “Elementary,” a fresh take on fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Folk-rock band Mumford & Sons provided the music.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kitty Donaldson in New York at kdonaldson1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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