Friendless Britain?


Written by Olly Rees
15 Monday 15th November 2010
With all the recent problems with ‘the special relationship’ between Britain and America: the issue of torture, the occupation of Iraq, trade and talk of isolationism, one has to ask how friendly we still are. Do we really still love each other as much?
America and Britain are best mates. They go to war with each other, help each other out and even speak the same language. There ain’t nothing America wouldn’t do for Britain. Or so we like to think. Every so often, someone in America hints at the fact that maybe everything isn’t as ‘special’ as it used to be. Cue the release of George Bush’s memoirs and the confession that, "It doesn't matter how people perceive me in England. It just doesn't matter any more. And frankly, at times, it didn't matter then."
This seems like a bit of a blow for the British image. Brits have always been different from Americans, something that has been satirised to death, but no one actually thought these differences meant anything. We still care about each other. Don’t we? Bush’s revelation that he would have pursued the same foreign policy regardless of British involvement or comment suggests that there are serious problems. After all, what is a relationship without trust and consideration? Combined with the fact that Obama is jetting around making a whole host of new friends (with India the most recent country to have caught Obama fever) one has to ask whether America is moving on and finding a new clique. Britain just isn’t cool enough anymore.
But it’s ok you say: Britain can find new friends too. Nice old Dave Cameron is going to China and inviting them into the EU party (as long as they play by our rules: human rights and democracy) and we’re sharing a load of our military with France. However, at the same time Dave is also trying to isolate Britain from the EU declaring himself a “Euro-sceptic,” and pulling out of the European People’s Party (EPP), something that forced the resignation of conservative MEP Christopher Beazley. Beazley claimed that Cameron’s actions were ‘destroying 30 years of Conservatism,’ not to mention all the friends we must have lost through the whole affair.
However, although the Conservatives are slowly trying to distance Britain from the EU, at least they admit that we do need friends. One has to question whether preaching to the Chinese about their political and social system is the right way to go about this though, especially with the constant reminder of Britain’s various... imperfections in the past. For example, Cameron’s poppy reminded the Chinese of the UK’s forced opening of China’s opium trade less than two hundred years ago. Nevertheless the Chinese prime minister described the visit as ‘fruitful’ and along with a $1.6bn Rolls-Royce deal for engines it looks like we just may have found a new ‘special relationship.’ This new relationship may not be as friendly as the one with America (because as Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao describes it is mainly ‘pragmatic): but at least Britain isn’t single.

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