Business World

Saturday 23 September 2017

IMF head Christine Lagarde is a 'very seductive politician', says BBC's Robert Peston

International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde. Photo: Reuters
International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde. Photo: Reuters

ROBERT Peston, the BBC's business editor, admitted on air to being charmed by the "seductive" head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde.

Mr Peston, who is normally the broadcaster's straight-talking expert on the economy, was left fumbling for words while discussing Mrs Lagarde on Radio 4's PM programme.

The 52-year-old journalist was discussing the IMF's scrutiny of the British economy and told presenter Eddie Mair that the its managing director had given the UK a "C or C minus".

He went on to say: "But she is one of the most charming politicians in the world," according to the Daily Mail.

He continued: "And in her sort of silken way she ...," before Mr Mair interrupted him and said, "Are you smitten?"

Mr Peston, a married father-of-two, replied: "I have to say I’ve met her a few times and she’s a very seductive politician, let’s put it that way."

Trying to recover his composure, the journalist said: "Desperately trying to get back to the matter in hand … no she, er, said … I’ve completely lost my place, I need a glass of water … and you know ...".

After discussing her comments on the Government's plan to cut the deficit, Mr Mair then played a clip in which Mrs Lagarde said: "When I think back to May 2010 when the UK deficit was at 11 per cent and I try to imagine what the situation would be like today if no such fiscal consolidation programme had been delivered, I shiver."

The host then suggested to Mr Peston: "It was that bit that got you, wasn’t it?" To which he replied: "It was the frisson at the end, yes."

Mrs Lagarde took over as IMF chief from Dominique Strauss-Kahn in 2011, becoming the first woman to hold the position.

The 56-year-old former French finance minister was raised by her mother and grandmother after her father died when she was a teenager.

Two years ago, the Financial Times named her the best economy minister in the world while she was ranked the 17th most important woman by Forbes.

Also in Business