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Inside politics

Churchill and FDR’s special relationship

Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis/Getty Images

The relationships between American presidents and British PMs range from chummy to icy, says Jack Blanchard in Politico’s Westminster Insider podcast. When Winston Churchill was sailing to Newfoundland to meet Franklin Roosevelt in 1941, he spent his days walking up and down the deck of the battleship, playing out potential conversations. The two men hit it off and, that December, Churchill stayed in the White House for three weeks as the pair discussed war strategy. They dined together every evening and drank a fair bit too. FDR even encountered Churchill naked in the bathtub, prompting the PM to quip: “The prime minister of Great Britain has nothing to hide from the president of the United States.”

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, who had met years before either got the top job, were also “peas in a pod”, says one of Reagan’s aides. Tony Blair and George W Bush hit it off straightaway: they ended up watching the Ben Stiller comedy Meet the Parents in the private cinema at Camp David, the presidential retreat. Things didn’t go so well for Gordon Brown when he met Barack Obama for the first time. His team gave the president a pen-holder made with wood from HMS Gannet, a prominent anti-slavery ship. In return Brown got a bundle of 25 DVDs – region-locked, so they couldn’t even be played in the UK.

My old mayor’s a dustwoman

Many former politicians go into “gold-plated” jobs in PR or consulting, says Charlie Duxbury in Politico. But Ann-Sofie Hermansson, the former mayor of Gothenburg, Sweden, now drives a rubbish truck. When her political luck ran out in 2018, she dusted off a heavy-goods-vehicle driving licence she had obtained on the advice of her father. “At least no one is upset with me,” she says. “That makes a nice change from working as a politician.”

A tall story

Tory Daniel Kawczynski could lose his record as Britain’s tallest MP, says Patrick Kidd in The Times. The member for Shrewsbury & Atcham is 6ft 8½in tall – but the Conservative candidate in the Chesham & Amersham by-election next Thursday, Peter Fleet, is 6ft 9in. “I don’t believe it,” Kawczynski told Kidd. “I’m 6ft 9in and so is he. I’m going to insist we stand back-to-back to see who is tallest.”