A shopping trip in Aylesbury landed David Cameron in political hot water after he tweeted that he was supporting small businesses – and was then caught spending his money in national chains Waterstones and Caffe Nero.
The Prime Minister, who was staying at Chequers over the weekend, tweeted a picture of himself buying 10 lamb cutlets from Cobbs butchers in Parton Road, writing that he was supporting the Small Business Saturday initiative, encouraging people to use local businesses rather than the chain stores.
However, he was then spotted shopping in national outlets Waterstones and Caffe Nero in Friars Square.
Labour MP Simon Danczuk said: “Even on Small Business Saturday, David Cameron says one thing and does another.
“Hours after using a photo opportunity to brag on Twitter about buying chops from a local butcher, it emerges when the cameras were turned off he did his Christmas shopping at Waterstones, which has almost 300 branches rather than a local bookshop.”
It is unclear where Mr Danczuk had in mind, given that there are no independent bookshops left in Aylesbury, although Mr Cameron certainly had a range of family-owned cafes to choose from.
Shopper Susan Leonard, 56, of Aylesbury, literally bumped into the Prime Minister in Market Square and said she was very impressed.
She told The Bucks Herald: “I’m not into all the politics to be honest but I have to say he was a very nice man.
“I was talking to my friend and as I turned when saying ‘bye’ I nearly went straight into him. I had to do a double take and when I realised who it was I was shocked.
“I said ‘sorry’ and he just said ‘not to worry’. I told him ‘it’s not everyday you bump into the Prime Minister’ and he laughed at that.
“A few other people had spotted him by that point and someone came over and asked for a picture which he was happy to pose for.
“One man started going on about HS2 and I said ‘nice to meet you’ he said ‘likewise’ and let him get on with it.
“But I have to say he seemed very humble and willing to chat to people so credit where it is due.”
Katherine Walsh, 69, of Buckingham Park, said she was in disbelief when she turned and saw David Cameron after paying for her meat at Cobbs.
“I knew it was him straight away and obviously Chequers isn’t far away so it’s not unthinkable that he would be in Aylesbury but you still can’t quite believe it.
“You see him all the time on TV and all over the papers and then all of a sudden he’s buying his sausages next to you, it’s very surreal.”
Aylesbury Waterstones tweeted: “The lovely David Cameron came in to do some Christmas shopping today. He knows a quality bookshop when he sees one!”
Caffe Nero barrista Marcin Skiba then tweeted a picture of himself, above left, with the Prime Minister, writing: “Prime customer!”
Mr Cameron said of the event: ‘Small businesses are the lifeblood of our country - essential for building a resilient, sustainable economy and a central part of my long-term economic plan for Britain.
“They account for 99 in every 100 businesses and keep more than 11 million people in work so this isn’t about sentimentality, it’s about the future of Britain, creating jobs and turning our economy around.
“I’m determined that we back them in every way we can - that’s what today is all about and that’s what this Government is about.”