By George Parker, political editor
David Cameron was still glowing last night after his three-hour bonding session with President Obama, who took him on a tour of his personal apartments in the White House as well as the garden: a far cry from the short “brush by” offered to him when he was still leader of the opposition.
In spite of all the pre-meeting efforts to dampen expectations – Cameron wrote that he was not bothered by the “baubles” of the “special relationship” – his team were immediately anxious to tell journalists how well the meeting had gone.
In spite of the little local difficulty over BP, the two leaders joshed about the state of their children’s bedrooms and exchanged gifts: Sam Cameron bought a natty pair of pink and purple Hunter wellies for the Obama children.
If Cameron was enjoying himself, who were the lucky members of his team honoured with the chance to dine with the President and his entourage? The line-up tells much about the people wielding the real influence in Team Cameron.
Sir Nigel Sheinwald, the British ambassador, was there of course, as was Jon Cunliffe, a Brown-era heavy-lifter retained by Cameron as his policy adviser on Europe and global finance. Tom Fletcher, a very bright young private secretary, was also at the table along with Sir Peter Ricketts, national security adviser.
The final two in the line-up are two of Cameron’s most important team members from opposition, at the heart of all key decisions in Number 10: the first was Ed Llewellyn, chief of staff and former aide to Chris Patten in Hong Kong and Paddy Ashdown in Bosnia. The second? Andy Coulson, Cameron’s communications chief.