David Cameron and George Osborne were pictured eating out in at a restaurant in the Swiss resort of Davos on the eve of the release of GDP figures which showed Britain’s economy slumping into negative growth.
Greenpeace press officer Ben Stewart, who was also dining at the Alte Post pizza restaurant, described the meal as “raucous” and said the Prime Minister and Chancellor were “laughing uproariously” and joking with London mayor Boris Johnson.
A photograph, which he posted on Twitter showing the PM’s party of around ten people seated round a long table, quickly sparked negative comments, with one former Labour special adviser branding the meal “pepperonigate”.
Damien McBride, who was a close aide to Gordon Brown at the Treasury and in 10 Downing Street, said last night that the fact the Chancellor was willing to be seen eating out in a restaurant suggested that “GDP must be positive tomorrow”.
When the figures were revealed, Mr McBride tweeted: “What on God’s Green Earth was Osborne doing eating pizza in Davos when he knew GDP was back in negative territory?”
The meal followed Mr Cameron’s speech earlier in the day to the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Asked whether Mr Cameron was embarrassed to be snapped enjoying himself in a restaurant the night before the release of bad GDP figures, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Prime Minister and Chancellor have been in Davos banging the drum for British business entirely consistent with the case we have been making that this is a global race.” The spokesman declined to discuss whether alcohol was drunk with the meal, saying only: “The Prime Minister and Chancellor and others had dinner last night.”