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‘Off our heads’ – David Cameron reveals pot-smoking school days | Politics News



David Cameron has revealed how he and his schoolmates would row to an island to “roll up” and get “off our heads” – and said he was nearly expelled when teachers found out.

The former PM wrote about his days at Eton – the country’s most exclusive public school – in his new book being serialised in The Times.

He also describes how he once woke to members of the infamous Bullingdon Club smashing bottles with a golf club and says he once swore in front of the Queen.

On his cannabis smoking, he writes: “Three of us used to hire one of the school’s double scull rowing boats and head off to a small island in the middle of the Thames called Queen’s Eyot.

“Being quite small back then, I was the cox. Once there, we would roll up and spend a summer’s afternoon gently off our heads.”

David Cameron and Boris Johnson (in 2016) were at Eton at the same time

The group’s trips were brought to an abrupt halt however when teachers found out and his rowing friends were kicked out.

Mr Cameron said he thought he was in the clear until he was summoned in the middle of a maths class, calling it “without doubt the worst moment of my life so far”.

Hauled in front of the headmaster, Mr Cameron managed to avoid being expelled by telling “a more and more elaborate set of lies” and claiming he had only smoked the drug once at the school.

Mr Cameron went on to Oxford University, where he said he fell in love 'lots of times'
Mr Cameron went on to Oxford University, where he said he fell in love ‘lots of times’

The former Tory leader, like many at the elite institution, ended up at Oxford University – at the same time as Boris Johnson.

He writes: “I made friends. I had fun. I argued. I gossiped. And I fell in love. Lots of times.”

“I can’t, of course, write about Oxford without three dreaded words that haunted me for most of my political life: the Bullingdon Club,” adds Mr Cameron.

“When I look now at the much-reproduced photograph taken of our group of appallingly over-self-confident ‘sons of privilege’, I cringe. If I had known at the time the grief I would get for that picture, of course I would never have joined. But life isn’t like that.”

The all-male dining club is known for its boisterous behaviour and Mr Cameron was pictured with Boris Johnson in a group photograph of its members.

However, he says stories of its members trashing restaurants and being paralytic from alcohol are exaggerated.

“I was never arrested. I was never completely incomprehensible from drink,” he writes.

But he does confirm a ritual that involved being woken in the night to members wrecking his room.

“I have a pretty clear memory of walking from my bedroom into my sitting room to find a group of people making a terrible racket, with one of them standing on the legs of an upended table, using a golf club to smash bottles as they were thrown at him,” says Mr Cameron.

“I can’t swear that one of these people was Boris Johnson, but he was certainly a member at the time.

“Boris has claimed subsequently that he was unable to climb over the wall into my college. I’m not sure I believe his story. But I’m not totally certain of my own, either. So perhaps I should leave it there.”

Mr Cameron also tells how he was packed off to a boarding school at age seven, where Prince Edward was among the pupils.

Unfortunately, his first time in the presence of the Queen did not go to plan.

The 52-year-old writes: “I was asked to read one of the lessons at our carol service – Isaiah, I think – and Her Majesty was in the front row.

“I did OK, but crucially forgot to say ‘Thanks be to God’ at the end. I remembered as I stepped away from the lectern, started to turn back, then realised it was too late to go back, panicked, and said, ‘Oh s***’.

As well as tales of his school days, the first extracts from the ex-PM’s book focus on his profound regrets over Brexit as well as some stinging criticism of Mr Johnson for behaving “appallingly” during the referendum campaign.

He also writes about his pride on delivering on one of his key policies, gay marriage, calling it “one of the most contentious, hard-fought and divisive issues” he dealt with.

Mr Cameron says backing the policy was “a giant leap for our party”.


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Johnson heads to UN where Brexit will still dominate the agenda | Politics




Boris Johnson heads off this weekend for the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations summit in New York where, despite an official focus on subjects including the environment and Iran, Brexit seems likely to yet again dominate the prime minister’s agenda.

He is scheduled to holds talks with Donald Tusk, the European council president at the UN general assembly (UNGA), as well as having joint discussions with Emmanuel Macron of France and Germany’s Angela Merkel, and a meeting with Ireland’s Leo Varadkar.

Other bilateral meetings for Johnson include with Donald Trump, the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, the New Zealand PM, Jacinda Ardern, Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, and Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the comedian-turned-politician who became Ukraine’s president in April, and King Abdullah II of Jordan.

With the trip already expected to be potentially interrupted by the supreme court ruling on whether Johnson was lawful in suspending parliament, his meetings with EU leaders will face intense scrutiny over signs of any emerging Brexit compromise.

It will be a first chance for Tusk and others to interrogate Johnson personally on the draft ideas for a possible solution to resolving a hard Irish border outlined by the UK government earlier this week, amid signs of continued EU scepticism on the issue.

Among a series of speeches and remarks due to be made by the PM, he will use a breakfast meeting of US and UK businesses to, as a senior government official put it, “make the pitch for why investing in Britain post-Brexit is a great thing to do”.

Amid efforts to play down the significance of the UNGA meetings on the departure process, the official called the talks “part of the ongoing Brexit talks”, to be viewed in conjunction with continuing discussions between officials.

“What this gives the PM an opportunity to do is talk to them at leader level about what some of our proposals are,” he said. “But at the same time we’re under no illusions that there is an awful lot of work still to do, and you should view the discussions at UNGA as part of an ongoing process.”

The official added: “Obviously the PM will be able to talk through the ideas which we have for replacing the backstop, and if the leaders are asking the PM questions I’m sure he’ll be very happy to talk about what our thinking is.”

In brief comments by Johnson released in advance of the trip, for which he will arrive on Sunday and leave on Wednesday, the PM said he would discuss “three crucial issues” at the gathering.

“First, how Britain can work with our European and American allies on peace and stability in the Middle East,” he said. “Second, how science and new technologies can help the world deal with climate change and the threats to biodiversity. Third, how post-Brexit Britain will be a better place to invest in and live in.”

Among ministers also attending will be Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, and the international development secretary, Alok Sharma.

Johnson’s partner, Carrie Symonds, will also be at the conference, but not in any official No 10 capacity – she is attending as part of her work with an environmental charity.

The discussions on the Middle East will focus heavily on a potential international response to drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities, which the US has blamed on Iran. In return, Iran’s foreign minister has said any attack on his country would result in “all-out war”.

Johnson will also make his set-piece speech to the general assembly on Tuesday evening local time, billed as taking in the challenges and opportunities of artificial intelligence, as well as “British values”.

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Palantir to seek at least $26 billion valuation in fundraising push




Palantir Technologies CEO Alex Karp arrives at the “Tech for Good” Summit in Paris, France May 15, 2019.

Charles Platiau | Reuters

Palantir Technologies is targeting a valuation of at least $26 billion in a private fundraising round, the first for the Peter Thiel-backed data analytics startup in four years, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Palantir was valued at roughly $20 billion in its last private fundraising round in 2015. If successful, the fundraising would show that venture capital firms are continuing to drive the valuations of Silicon Valley unicorns higher, even as stock market investors are pushing back.

We Company-owned WeWork, another darling of the startup world, postponed its initial public offering this week after it concluded that stock market investors may not even accept a third of the $47 billion valuation it attained in a private fundraising round in January. The office-sharing startup unnerved potential IPO investors with its widening losses and its founder’s firm grip on the company.

Palantir is looking to raise between $1 billion and $3 billion, the sources said. It expects to command a valuation of between $26 billion and $30 billion, the sources added, requesting anonymity because the matter is confidential.

Palantir has held talks with a number of late-stage venture capital investors about participating in the latest fundraising round, including Japan’s SoftBank Group and sovereign wealth funds, according to the sources.

Palantir is working with Royal Bank of Canada and Morgan Stanley on the fundraising, one of the sources said. The company is considering an IPO in 2021 at the earliest, the sources said, cautioning the plans are still subject to change.

Palantir and Royal Bank of Canada declined to comment. Morgan Stanley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Palantir has raised roughly $2.75 billion from investors to date, according to data provider PitchBook.

Palantir, whose customers range from global banks to the U.S. government and the Central Intelligence Agency, specializes in crunching and analyzing large quantities of data.

The company’s technology aided the U.S. government’s successful search for Osama bin Laden, according to multiple media reports.


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