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PM denies tears flowed at reshuffle
David Cameron has denied reducing ministers to tears as he took the reshuffle hatchet to his Government.
The Prime Minister also revealed that he juggled the complicated business of reshaping the coalition with trying to write a poem about a "furry bear" for one of his children.
The comments came amid reports that three Tories - including former Cabinet members Caroline Spelman and Cheryl Gillan - wept when told they no longer had frontbench jobs.
Mr Cameron told ITV's Daybreak programme that conducting the shake-up earlier this week was "difficult", and some of the ousted ministers had done "absolutely nothing wrong".
"It obviously is incredibly difficult because there are ministers who had worked incredibly hard, who had done absolutely nothing wrong in their jobs, who were very dedicated. But when you have got a huge team of 300 MPs, huge challenges, it is important to bring new people on and bring new people in."
Asked whether he had made anyone cry, Mr Cameron replied: "That is not true, actually."
Mr Cameron said his household had been "chaotic" as elder children Nancy and Elwen returned to school after the summer holiday. "It was pretty chaotic because it had been lovely having the children with us on holiday, and then suddenly they go back," he said. "The homework is coming thick and fast. I was trying to do a poem on a furry bear while also contemplating all the other things that were going on. It has been quite complicated. But I hope it hasn't got in the way of the conduct of government."
Mr Cameron also played down the prospect of wife Samantha following Michelle Obama's example by delivering a political speech praising her husband. He said: "Michelle and Samantha are friends, but they are different. She would do it brilliantly, I'm sure, but I value my life and my marriage too much to suggest it." He said Mrs Cameron was not obsessed by politics, but it did sometimes form part of their "pillow talk". He said: "Like every husband and wife, you get home at night... the pillow talk. She has a very good 40,000ft view of what is going on."
Mr Cameron also rejected criticism that he had not promoted enough women to the top ranks in his reshuffle, saying: "There are as many today as there were before the reshuffle. Two very talented women left the Cabinet, and two very talented women joined the Cabinet. But what you see - obviously I inherited a party with only 19 women MPs - there are now around 50. So, big change has taken place. Some very talented women in the junior ministerial ranks - I hope you'll have some of them on the sofa. People like Helen Grant, Anna Soubry - stars of the future. They are joining the Government and I hope they'll be working their way up and through it, and you'll see many more women at the top of Conservative politics in the future."
The Prime Minister's official spokesman defended the decision to award knighthoods to four ministers who lost their jobs in the reshuffle. Tories James Paice, Edward Garnier and Gerald Howarth and Liberal Democrat Nick Harvey were all handed the honours. News of the decision came just days after the Commons Public Administration Select Committee complained that too many honours are awarded to politicians, celebrities and civil servants rather than to people who devote time and effort to their local communities. The committee condemned the granting of knighthoods to businessmen and senior officials for simply "doing the day job". The spokesman said: "The Prime Minister believes that political service is an important form of public service."