Published: Monday 23rd March 2015 by The News Editor
David Cameron has said he will not put himself forward for a third term as Prime Minister if he remains in 10 Downing Street after the May 7 general election.
Mr Cameron said he was standing for election to serve for a full second term – which could last until 2020 – but joked: “Terms are like shredded wheat : two are wonderful but three might just be too many.”
He named three of his senior colleagues – Home Secretary Theresa May, Chancellor George Osborne and London mayor Boris Johnson – as possible replacements as Conservative leader when he stands down.
In an interview with BBC News, Mr Cameron was directly asked if he would go for a third term if he remained PM after the election.
He replied: ” No, I think I’m standing for a full second term.”
And he added: “I’m not saying all prime ministers necessarily definitely go bad, or even go bad at the same rate, but I feel I’ve got more to bring to this job, the job is half done, the economy’s turned round, the deficit is half down and I want to finish the job.
“I didn’t just come to do this to, you know, deal with the debts and the mess, I want to go on with the education reforms and the welfare reforms.
“There definitely comes a time where a fresh pair of eyes and fresh leadership would be good, and the Conservative Party has got some great people coming up: the Theresa Mays, and the George Osbornes, and the Boris Johnsons. You know, there’s plenty of talent there. I’m surrounded by very good people. The third term is not something I’m contemplating.”
Mr Cameron said political leaders should never regard themselves as “indispensable”.
“Countries, like big organisations, benefit from strong and consistent leadership but there comes a time when you want a fresh pair of eyes and a fresh agenda,” he said. “Certain things that other people would bring, and so you must never think that you’re indispensable. However mad you go in this job.
“I’ve said I’ll stand for a full second term, but I think after that it will be time for new leadership. Terms are like shredded wheat : two are wonderful but three might just be too many.”
Mr Cameron paid tribute to his wife Samantha for keeping him “sane” in Downing Street, and revealed she will be playing a role in the Conservative election campaign.
“The fact that we do different things helps actually,” he said. “She keeps me sane because she’s one of the most organised people that I’ve ever come across, s o home life, the children’s life, everything is just brilliantly organised.
“Otherwise you wouldn’t get this family time – unless you’re really well organised everything would be blown off course, you wouldn’t get the chance. She’s amazing like that.
“But we’ll be out on the campaign trail because we’re passionate about this election and what comes next. She is right behind me and what I’m trying to do.”
He added: “She will be out there campaigning with me some of the time, she will be out there on her own supporting Conservative candidates some of the time, but she has also got a job and we’ve got three children.”
Sources close to Mr Cameron said that he was ruling out serving a full third term as PM – which would keep him in Downing Street until 2025 – but had not made any decision on whether he would fight an election in 2020 or hand over to a successor before the poll, after serving a full second term.
“We will cross that bridge when we come to it,” said a Downing Street source.
“He is clear that we need to win the election in 2015 first. As the Prime Minister has said a number of times, he fully intends to serve a full second term if he wins that election.”
Mrs Cameron made clear she hopes her husband will remain at Number 10, telling the BBC: “He is definitely in my mind the best man for the job.”
She added: “I hope me and the children help him keep things in perspective, keep him grounded, help him pace himself over the next eight weeks.”
In the latest of a series of BBC profiles of the private sides of party leaders, Mr Cameron was seen cheering on son Elwen’s football team from the sidelines, shopping in the local butcher’s shop and preparing food in the kitchen of his Oxfordshire home.
And he revealed that daughter Nancy was threatening a hunger strike if family friend Jeremy Clarkson was taken off the TV – though Samantha suggested the threat was not altogether serious.
“Nancy has threatened to go on hunger strike unless Jeremy Clarkson is restored,” said Mr Cameron. “I told her this is not necessarily a useful intervention. It is not exactly Gandhi.”
Samantha chipped in: “Nancy’s hunger strike this morning lasted approximately five minutes”.
“It’s between lunch and tea is the way it works,” joked the Prime Minister.
Mr Cameron played down suggestions that his comfortable background made it difficult for him to connect with voters.
He said: ” Look, it hasn’t stopped me from becoming Prime Minister. I think, I get asked this question a lot. I think at the end of the day, the British public see through all that. The judgment they are making is can you do the job or not. ”
Labour “quite like making attacks on class and background and things like that”, said Mr Cameron.
But he added: “I think that’s completely out of date and switches people off. Their most successful leader in recent decades was a public school educated man from Islington.
“I think it’s overdone. What matters is can you do the job? What does matter is if you’re completely out of touch and you lived some rarefied existence and you don’t listen to people and you couldn’t understand people’s problems then yes, that would be a problem.”
Published: Monday 23rd March 2015 by The News Editor