Tuesday 22 October 2019

'I will never forget that act of compassion' - David Cameron reveals how Nicolas Sarkozy helped him see his dying father for last time

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and former UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo: AP
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and former UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo: AP

Alexander Britton

Former Prime Minister David Cameron has written of French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy's "extraordinary gestures" which helped him see his father for a final time.

Mr Cameron and Mr Sarkozy had a fraught relationship at times, most markedly over the crisis enveloping the euro when the French president told Mr Cameron "You have lost a good opportunity to shut up."

But in his memoirs which are due to be published on Thursday, Mr Cameron spoke of how Mr Sarkozy came to his aide when his father Ian Cameron fell ill in France.

Excerpts of the book have been serialised in the Times and the former Conservative leader wrote of how his father fell ill on the continent and was preparing to travel to the south of France but turned back after believing the older Cameron had stabilised.

He wrote: "As I headed back towards Downing Street and PMQs there was an amazing intervention.

"Nicolas Sarkozy came through on the car phone to tell me that he had heard my father was unwell, and his office had spoken to the doctors concerned.

"They were worried that the stroke was potentially fatal. He said, 'Whatever you do, David, turn around and get back on the plane, and I will get you to your father'."

After arriving in Nice, Mr Cameron was taken to hospital via helicopter to see his father for what would be the last time, and Mr Sarkozy then insisted the Cameron family stay at the president's residence near Marseille.

He wrote: "These were extraordinary gestures, which I will never forget.

"Sarkozy and I were to have some great collaborations, particularly over Libya, and some ferocious rows, almost always over the EU.

"But without his intervention I wouldn't have seen my dad before his funeral. I will never forget that act of compassion."

PA Media

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