09/12/2012 12:24 GMT

Eric Pickles: 'The Only Way Is Essex'

Tory Minister and Yorkshireman Eric Pickles "admitted to treason" on air Sunday - revealing that, for him, the only way is Essex.

Speaking to Kirsty Young on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, he said: "I am afraid I am going to have to admit to treason on the air – I like Essex.

"Essex is my home and I hate going back to Yorkshire."

It's not the perma-tan or the false eyelashes that endear him to the county, but the countryside of his constituency of Brentwood and Ongar, where he has been an MP since 1992, which keeps him down south.

“I like its 'in-your-face' attitude. It’s a stunningly beautiful county and I have taken an interest in birdwatching over the last 12 years and I just love the marshland and the flatland and by the shore.”

Pickles spoke about his time in the Young Conservatives, which was a "rebellion" from his Labour-supporting family, and meeting his wife, Irene, expressing his relief she is not a typical, ambitious politician's wife.

“No, thank God. There is nothing more ­frightening than a political wife – Lady ­Macbeth just waiting to get you,” he said.

He used his time on the programe to defend his boss, Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking about his "car crash" on Question Time in 2009, which he said he needed a second home in London, because he would have to otherwise get up at 5.30am to drive the 37 miles to Westminster.

But he did get a "prolonged hug from David Cameron. I apologised but he is a good boss and he understands that we all have off days.”

Earlier he described the Prime Minister as having “enormous empathy and was capable of walking in someone else’s shoes.”

But he admitted the government was not in control of the economy, because of international forces. “I am not entirely sure Emperor Augustus was in charge of the economy, we don’t deal with it in a sealed ­container

Pickles had asked for help choosing his Desert Island Discs from his Twitter followers, and opting for a mix of genres, from Puccini's Tosca, to So What by Miles Davis. His selection of Mary Chapin Carpenter, he confided, would mean he would be teased by his staff.

The luxury he chose for the desert island, where he said he believed he could "cope fine with being alone" was a kettle and Earl Grey tea and his book was Primo Levi’s If This is A Man and The Truce, an edition signed by ­Holocaust survivors.