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Clarke defends PM's 'chillaxing'

A Cabinet colleague has dismissed criticism of David Cameron's work ethic after details emerged of the Prime Minister's fondness for karaoke and computer games.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said all modern politicians had to be "workaholics" and the premier was on duty from the "crack of dawn". But he insisted that leaders also needed to be part of the "human race", and should not be condemned for seeking some "light relief".

The staunch defence followed the publication of extracts from a new biography of Mr Cameron by journalists Francis Elliott and James Hanning.

The book describes how the Prime Minister "chillaxes" during weekends at Chequers, by singing karaoke, playing tennis against a machine dubbed "the Clegger", indulging in games on his iPad, and downing three or four glasses of wine at Sunday lunch.

Asked about the activities on Sky News' Murnaghan programme, Mr Clarke replied: "Well, you have to have a little light relief in politics, and that's light relief. Everybody has to have some time on their own."

The former chancellor said the life of a minister was an "absolute grindstone". "I don't want to stand here on behalf of the trade union of minister of the United Kingdom and the western world, but you have to be a workaholic to do it," he went on.

"Particularly if you are Prime Minister and you cover the whole scene, you really have to put the work in. David has a quite different metabolism to me, he appears to get up at the crack of dawn and I hear him referring to people on (BBC Radio 4's) Farming Today...

"I have not listened to Farming Today for many years, but you might find me with a brandy and a cigar at one o'clock in the morning working on my papers.

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls was also asked whether the premier was working hard enough. "I don't want to be too pompous about this," Mr Balls said. "It is a good thing at the weekend to have a bit of time."

But he insisted he was concerned about Mr Cameron's performance during the week. "I often feel in the house of Commons he is not on top of the issues," Mr Balls added.

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