David Cameron’s decision to brave one of America’s most-watched chat shows left the Prime Minister red-faced as he struggled to answer David Letterman’s questions about British history. The interview was recorded before Mr Cameron flew to Brazil on a trade mission.
Mr Cameron had planned to use his subsequent appearance on the Letterman show to ‘bang the drum’ for British business and encourage Americans to visit the UK.
The Prime Minister was hoping there will be questions on the economic crisis, London Olympics and his working relationship with the coalition partner. Instead, the Prime Minister was caught out on the Late Show when Mr Letterman tested him on questions normally set to immigrants applying to become British Citizens. Most of the answers he gave were wrong.   
After his errors, Mr Cameron, educated at Eton College and Oxford University, joked to Letterman: ‘That is bad, I have ended my career on your show tonight.’  
According to No 10 Downing Street sources, facing Mr Letterman’s mockery was a risk, but one which was well worth taking. Afterall, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and a number of prominent politicians have had to face the sharp intelligence of the famous chat host.
Mr Letterman opened the appearance by asking Mr Cameron some ‘dumb American questions’ to which Cameron agreed. With hindsight, perhaps, he should have known better and declined.
The first question was who wrote Rule Britannia, the song to which Mr Cameron had arrived on the set. That was just the beginning of the ambush. Cameron looked blank. It was very clear he did not have a clue.  ‘You are testing me now’, the Prime Minister said. At least he got that right.
It was awkward, but the Prime Minister had a stab. ‘Elgar?’  Letterman looked dubious and warned that his researchers would be checking his response.
After a commercial break, Mr Letterman eventually informed the Prime Minister that the song was actually based on a poem written by James Thomson and set to music by Thomas Arne in 1740.
He asked Mr Cameron: ‘Are you familiar with James Thomson?’ to which David Cameron sheepishly replied: ‘I am now.’
Mr Cameron was also flummoxed by questions about the Magna Carta. When Letterman asked where the Magna Carta now was, Cameron was stumped. ‘It does exist,’ he ventured. He had seen a copy in the Houses of Parliament.
But then came the final humiliation: What does Magna Carta mean? No clue, blank, empty, without hope. ‘Oh it would be good if you knew this – we’ll find it,’ Letterman jabbed.
What the three million Americans watching made of it is not known but it looks like audience members were impressed with the British Prime Minister’s overall performance. If Cameron was a US politician and had failed a test on the basics of American history, he would have been the talk of the town.
When David Cameron returned home from attending the United Nations and Brazil missions, let’s hope he was not required to complete a citizenship test all applicants for British citizens have to undertake these days.  
But if he were to take this citizenship test, would he score enough marks to enable him to obtain a British passport? If the UK version was as strict as its US equivalent and basing on his recent performance, many would argue he wouldn’t stand the slightest chance.
An important question: if the current British Prime Minister can’t provide correct answers to simple questions on History and Culture which is the very kind of questions used to assess the suitability and eligibility of prospective British citizen, what hope is there for immigrants who are new to the country and why should they be subjected to such types of questioning. In short, is the citizen test discriminating against foreigners who want to become British citizens? Should the test be scrapped? In defense of David Cameron, British citizens don’t have to take this test.   
What would be an interesting exercise in the Mauritian context is how well versed our politicians and presidents (past and present) are when it comes to Mauritian History and Culture. They always give the impression they know all. More importantly, would they be willing to be grilled live and unprepared on national television? Hands up all those politicians who are brave enough to face the music!