The Tories have not been able to win the last election.
But they did win the one before that.
Cameron, the chancellor, was the first prime minister to attend the Capitol Building on the eve of a crucial debate over how best to save the economy and public services.
In the process, he was criticised by some in the party for having the temerity to hold a meeting on a government bill that would have led to a significant increase in VAT, which the Tories have called the “most intrusive piece of legislation in our history”.
The Conservative Party’s decision to hold such a meeting, and its subsequent failure to win a majority, were highlighted by the new Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
It has now emerged that the chancellor was in Washington at the same time as the bill was debated, although it is not clear why.
In an email to colleagues, Cameron said: “This is my first opportunity to meet with a leader from another party.
I know there are questions that remain.
But I would like to be clear that I have always had my views on this matter and that my meeting with the president is purely about the importance of getting the best deal for our country.”
Asked whether he would have voted for the bill, he said: Yes.
“It was an important debate that I had a very good opportunity to have.
I had the opportunity to hear from all sides.
I want to make sure that the UK continues to be a strong economy, and it is important to me that we have a government that works for working people.”
The bill, the Government Procurement and Labour Standards Act 2016, was passed by the Commons in June and was then sent to the Lords for approval.
The legislation would increase VAT from 12.5% to 16% and increase the number of VAT brackets from 12 to 17.
The measure would also create a new exemption for “high value goods and services” such as “art and design” and “a small number of luxury goods”.
But it was rejected by the Lords, where the majority Labour majority had voted against it.
The Conservatives said that, while the vote was “clearly a setback for the government”, they still had “a very good chance of winning back the House of Lords”.
But Labour MP Caroline Flint, who voted against the bill and is a Conservative supporter, said: I think the government’s case was undermined by the vote in the Lords.
The Lords are a party of small-c conservatives.
They want to preserve their control of the government and their control over the Conservative Party.
“This government has always been in a position where they can’t make it through a parliament,” she said.
“The Lords don’t like big government, they don’t want to cut social security, they want to increase the NHS.
They are the ones who will tell us how to run the economy.
So, I think there was a significant loss of credibility.”
However, she said the Lords would not be swayed by the Conservatives’ claim that “the House of Commons is the parliament of the people”.
“I think they understand that there are constituencies in the country where the Conservatives don’t stand very well, but they can still win by appealing to the constituency’s traditional concerns,” she added.
“I have no doubt that they would not want to see a Conservative government elected in the next parliament.”
A Conservative spokesman said the party had “no plans to hold another debate on this bill”.
The Treasury minister, Chris Grayling, also said he had not been in Washington but that the bill would be reviewed.
“If the bill is passed by parliament, it will be reviewed and it will pass,” he said.
A Treasury spokesman said: The Treasury has been working with parliamentarians to review this legislation to ensure that the changes will ensure the tax revenue we receive from the increased VAT is used wisely. “
And I think it’s important that we don’t go back on the principle of VAT increases that we’ve always had.”
A Treasury spokesman said: The Treasury has been working with parliamentarians to review this legislation to ensure that the changes will ensure the tax revenue we receive from the increased VAT is used wisely.
This will include considering whether it would be appropriate to continue the existing threshold of 14.5%, which has been used in the past to allow for increases to the personal allowance and child tax credit, and how it will work in the future.