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Osborne laughs off Obama mix-up


US President Barack Obama repeatedly called George Osborne 'Jeffrey' at the G8 summit

US President Barack Obama repeatedly called George Osborne 'Jeffrey' at the G8 summit

PA Wire/Press Association Images

US President Barack Obama repeatedly called George Osborne 'Jeffrey' at the G8 summit

George Osborne has laughed off news that Barack Obama repeatedly referred to him as Jeffrey during G8 meetings this week.

The US president apparently mixed the Chancellor up with one of his favourite soul singers, Jeffrey Osborne, and he committed another faux pas by saying Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was better looking than David Cameron.

The inside gossip from the summit in Northern Ireland sparked frantic internet activity, with some wags pasting Mr Osborne's face on to his namesake's album covers. The R&B star - whose hits include 1980s' tune On the Wings Of Love - also bizarrely suggested that they could sing a duet together.

But posting on Twitter, the Chancellor joked that his voice was not up to it. "One unexpected breakthrough from G8 - offer to sing with legend @_JeffreyOsborne," he wrote. "Jeff you wouldn't suggest a duet if you'd heard me."

The Cabinet minister attended the gathering to brief the leaders of the word's wealthiest countries on plans to crack down on tax dodgers. But according to The Sun and the Financial Times, he was visibly put out when Mr Obama called him "Jeffrey" three times.

The leader of the free world responded to his 90-minute presentation by saying: "Thanks for that, Jeffrey." Realising his mistake shortly afterwards, Mr Obama insisted: "I'm sorry, man. I must have confused you with my favourite R&B singer."

Mr Osborne's real name is Gideon, but he changed it to George as a teenager because it was "easier".

Asked about the mix-up on Sky News, Jeffrey Osborne said: "I was really delighted, actually. I was really not aware that he was that much of a fan that he would call the Chancellor Jeffrey Osborne. Tell the Chancellor when I come over I will have to hook up with him and we will do a duet of On The Wings Of Love, or something."

Meanwhile, Mr Clegg confirmed that Mr Obama told him he was "the better-looking half of the coalition" during the summit. The "passing comment" was delivered as the Liberal Democrat leader joined a lunch on Tuesday. In his weekly phone-in on LBC 97.3 radio, a bashful Mr Clegg said he did not think Mr Cameron had been in earshot. He added: "I should think he didn't even hear it. It was in quite a scrum as we were going towards lunch. Any observer looking at the three of us would conclude that the person who looked the coolest was Mr Obama."

Jeffrey Osborne told BBC Radio 4's PM programme it was "probably a little embarrassing" for the Chancellor and suggested he could come over and "help run the country a little bit". At the request of presenter Eddie Mair, Mr Osborne sang: "Tax cuts should be for life, not for just Christmas time."