Before the recession, and our subsequent obsession with austerity, British politicians were happy to be seen enjoying a luxurious holiday is some far-flung corner of the globe. Tony Blair and his New Labour friends led the way, wallowing in the company of the world’s wealthy and gleefully snapping up every freebie on offer. Mr Blair’s holiday excesses even inspired a makeover to his waxwork at Madame Tussauds.
Their freebie fanaticism took the Blairs to Florida, for a holiday at the home of Bee Gee Robin Gibb, to Barbados, where they regularly housesat for Cliff Richard, and to Sardinia, where they enjoyed the company of a bandana-wearing Silvio Berlusconi. The orange-hued Italian had just undergone hair transplant surgery.
Over the years, the Blairs did enjoy the occasional domestic excursion. Here they are pictured in the Cornish port of Charlestown.
But they are best remembered for their holidays in more exotic destinations, such as Bali.
The Blairs have also enjoyed regular trips to Tuscany. Access to this grand, modern mansion near Pisa was provided by Tuscany’s then regional president Vannino Chiti.
By contrast, Gordon Brown’s trip to Southwold – undertaken in 2008 at the behest of his wife Sarah – couldn’t have been more austere. He was greeted by Suffolk residents protesting against the Government’s decision to cut funds used to protect the region from coastal erosion.
Mr Brown could hardly look more at ease in this fetching holiday outfit as he strolls around Whitlingham Country Park in Norfolk.
David Cameron – armed with swimming shorts from a Boden catalogue – chose Cornwall, where he and his wife Samantha provided a perfect photo opportunity for the assembled gaggle of reporters at Harlyn Bay, on the wild north coast.
Mr Cameron’s choice may have been inspired by Baroness Thatcher, who visited the county regularly while in office.
Vladimir Putin caused something of a stir the following summer while on holiday in Siberia. The manly Russian stripped off for a spot of fishing before clambering into the saddle.
Mr Putin’s predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, was even less suited to the shirtless look, as seen here in Corfu.
By contrast, Barack Obama looked decidedly svelte last Christmas when he chose to take a break on Hawaii, the island of his birth.
George Bush preferred to spend his holidays shifting timber on his ranch in Crawford.
Here, Bill Clinton is pictured sailing around Martha’s Vineyard with his wife Hilary and the late broadcaster Walter Cronkite, before he turns on the charm in the US Virgin Islands.
Nicholas Sarkozy and his wife Carla enjoy a dip at Le Cap Nègre on the Côte d’Azur. Is Mr Sarkozy breathing in?
Angela Merkel appears rather less thrilled outside a souvenir shop on the Italian island of Ischia.