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Hunter Boots, the Prime Minister, and the First Daughters: Sometimes Rubber Boots Aren't Just Rubber Boots

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Last week, when UK Prime Minister David Cameron came on a state visit to the White House, he brought with him two pairs of Hunter boots—those rubbery Wellingtons that come in a huge range of colors and have been spotted on all sorts of celebrities from Kate Moss to Gwyneth Paltrow to Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Cameron gifted a pink pair to Malia Obama and a purple pair to Sasha—aw, sweet, right? Not so fast. Although the gift of traditional English rainboots might seem like a sweet gesture, they're much more politically loaded than they seem at first sight. In fact, the prime minister came under fire this weekend from the Sunday Times over the gift.

The firm [that manufactures the boots] is owned by a consortium led by Lord Marland, the former Tory party treasurer who is both a friend of the prime minister and a junior minister in his government.

Opposition MPs and unions are angry that Marland has closed down the firm's original factory in the Scottish borders and switched production of the boots to Serbia and China.

By moving production abroad, the PM's close friend cost many jobs in the UK. "As far as I am concerned they have asset-stripped the place and stopped all production," said Russell Brown, the Labour (opposition) MP from Dumfries, where the factory was previously situated. "I am not surprised David Cameron has given Marland's firm a boost. I am sure he will say he is doing a job for manufacturing and decent products but at the end of the day it's an old pal of his."
· The Sunday Times [Official Site]