UK Politics

A history of prime ministers caught on mic

David Cameron, Chris Grayling, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Commons Speaker John Bercow and the Queen at a reception in Buckingham Palace to mark the Queen"s 90th birthday Image copyright Getty Images

David Cameron has been recorded describing Nigeria and Afghanistan as "fantastically corrupt" in a conversation with the Queen. It is not clear whether or not he knew his words were being recorded - but it would not be the first time his unguarded remarks have been caught on microphone - and he's not the only prime minister to have been caught out in this way...


2015: Yorkshire people hate each other

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Media captionDavid Cameron's comments were picked up on a microphone

David Cameron was heard joking that Yorkshire people "hate each other", while rehearsing a speech in Leeds. Wearing a microphone but not on camera, the PM said: "We just thought people in Yorkshire hated everyone else, we didn't realise they hated each other so much." Later, Mr Cameron told the BBC's Test Match Special it was "a total joke".


2014: Purrgate

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Media captionDavid Cameron can be heard saying: "She purred down the line"

David Cameron, in conversation with ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, unwittingly revealed that the Queen apparently "purred" when he told her Scotland had rejected independence. Overhead by the waiting camera crews, the PM said he had "never heard someone so happy" at the result, and said she "purred down the line". Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the remarks. Mr Cameron said he was "embarrassed" and "extremely sorry".


2010: Bigotgate

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With just a few days until the 2010 general election, Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown was out and about on the campaign trail to try to woo voters. But on returning to his car after an encounter with Rochdale resident Gillian Duffy, with whom he had been discussing immigration, he was unaware his microphone was still on - and could be heard calling her a "bigoted women". Mr Brown later said he was "mortified" by the slur and a grovelling phone apology to Mrs Duffy was made, but it wasn't enough, and he had to go back to Rochdale to apologise to her in person. The incident was often cited in Labour's subsequent shift in tone on the issue - as the party said that talking about immigration did not make someone a bigot.


2006: Yo, Blair

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US President George Bush's exchanges with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair were recorded at a G8 summit in Russia. They began with Mr Bush apparently asking: "Yo, Blair. How are you doing?" Critics said this was over-familiar and showed a lack of respect on the part of the leader of the free world for his ally. Mr Blair ended the eavesdropping when he spotted the live microphone and switched it off.


1993: Angry Major

People remember Conservative John Major as one of the milder-mannered prime ministers in British history. But, back in 1993, he was an angry man. Embroiled in battles with the more Eurosceptic of his cabinet ministers, he spoke honestly about his feelings to ITN's Michael Brunson. Unaware that he was still being recorded after an interview, Mr Major described his foes as "bastards" he would like to "crucify".

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