French President François Hollande and UK Prime Minister David Cameron are shown as foreign legionnaires (the French Foreign Legion is a military service wing of the French Army established in 1831). The African setting is a reference to France's military intervention in Mali, which has received logistical support from Britain.
Cameron, who has an axe behind his back, tells Hollande that he swears by it (the axe), and that it (the axe) is at Hollande's disposal.
An axe can be used a weapon, but in the context of the cartoon it is also being used as a metaphor for the army job cuts. Cameron's offer of help can therefore be seen as ironic.
1. In journalism the word axe is commonly used as a verb or a noun to refer to cuts in jobs, budgets, services, etc.
• Two schools are facing the axe in a cost-cutting exercise.
• The minister was given the axe following the expenses scandal.
• MPs know there will be cuts in public spending but do not know on which department the axe will fall.
• Patients are delighted their local hospital has been saved from the axe.
• Protesters, anxious over the spending cuts, urged councillors to think again before wielding the axe.
• Almost 1,000 jobs were axed in the latest round of budget cuts.
• Other less profitable services are to be axed later this year.
• Chelsea's decision to axe Roberto di Matteo surprised many people.
2. If you swear by something, you believe that it can be relied on t have a particular effect.
• Many people swear by vitamin C's ability to ward off colds.