Harry Mount

Diary – 25 February 2016

Also in Harry Mount’s diary: Quebec’s sinking separatists; the north London dawn chorus; the bread-roll index

The Prime Minister is pretty angry with Boris. But the idea that they’ve competed with each other since school is wrong. Boris is two years older than Cameron — and differences in age are like dog years when you’re young. When I was 13, 15-year-olds seemed like grown-ups, 6ft tall with three days’ growth. When I interviewed Cameron last year, he said he’d hardly known Boris at Eton because he was in College — the scholars’ house — and two years above him. Cameron did remember Boris on the rugby field because he was so dishevelled and ferocious. And he watched him in a few debates at the Oxford Union. But that was as close as they got in their youth. I asked Cameron if there was anything in the idea of these two boys vying to be PM. ‘It would make a great book but it’s not true at all,’ he said. That won’t stop someone writing it.

Cameron added that he saw his relationship with Boris as ‘co-opetition’: they had arguments and discussions about all sorts of things but, in the end, they always tried to work together and find the right way through. This week, the co-opetition turned into straight competition.

My local paper, the Camden New Journal, reports that this month Ed Miliband returned to his alma mater, Haverstock School in north London. His speaking topic? ‘The skills necessary to succeed at work.’ Here’s hoping a cheeky schoolboy asked him how effectively he deployed those skills last year.

I’m writing this in snowy Quebec. Because the EU referendum is on my mind, I ask every Quebecois I meet about their referendum in 1995 — when they voted to remain part of Canada by a margin of 1 per cent Now, they all said, the vote would be more in favour of staying Canadian.

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