No 'special relationship' between Britain and US: lawmakers


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Mar 24, 2009
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LONDON: Talk of a "special relationship" between Britain and the United States should be dropped, a House of Commons committee said Sunday, adding the Iraq war carried important lessons for Anglo-US ties.

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee said Britain should be "more willing to say no" to the United States and warned that London will probably not be able to influence Washington as much in future.

"The UK must continue to position itself closely alongside the US but there is a need to be less deferential and more willing to say no where our interests diverge," the committee chairman, Labour's Mike Gapes, said, summing up the report.

He added that the phrase "special relationship" -- first coined by Winston Churchill in 1946, the year after World War II -- was "potentially misleading, and we recommend that its use should be avoided".

"British and European politicians have been guilty of over-optimism about the extent of influence they have over the US," he said.

"We must be realistic and accept that globalisation, structural changes and shifts in geopolitical power will inevitably affect the UK-US relationship".

In the report itself, the committee of members of parliament said there were "many lessons to be learned" from Britain's approach to the United States over the 2003 Iraq war.

Then premier Tony Blair stood shoulder-to-shoulder with president George W. Bush over the invasion despite a lack of wider international support.

"The perception that the British government was a subservient 'poodle' to the US administration leading up to the period of the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath is widespread both among the British public and overseas," it said.

"This perception, whatever its relation to reality, is deeply damaging to the reputation and interests of the UK."

It also noted that President Barack Obama's administration was taking a "more pragmatic tone" towards Britain than had been the case for some previous US administrations.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said in response to the report: "It doesn't really matter whether someone calls it the 'special relationship' or not.

"What matters is that the UK's relationship with the US is unique, and uniquely important to protecting our national security and promoting our national interest."

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