It was meant to put Britain’s relationship with the United States back on an even keel. Instead, Prime Minister David Cameron’s first official trip to Washington this week managed to make Great Britain look more like Grovelling Britain.
The Prime Minister’s inner suck-up reared its head early on when he allowed four US Senators to hijack the agenda. Ahead of the trip, the Senators had pressed for a meeting to discuss their call for an investigation into the release of the Lockerbie bomber; a request Mr. Cameron’s office initially rebuffed by offering to have Britain’s ambassador to the US meet with them instead. Within hours of landing however, Mr. Cameron flip-flopped and agreed to sit down with the gang.
The point here is not whether the issue was worth discussing but rather who was worthy of raising it with our Prime Minister. I bet Margaret Thatcher wouldn’t have rearranged her schedule to kowtow to a bunch of lower ranking American statesmen riding a wave of British bashing ahead of a mid-term election.
The chummy joint press conference between the Prime Minister and President Obama tried to gloss over any disparities between the two leaders. But the pretence of equality was soon dashed by none other than the Prime Minister himself when he gave his view of US-British relations to an American television presenter. ‘We were the junior partner in 1940 when we were fighting against Hitler. We are the junior partner now.’ The United States didn’t enter the war until 1941. But Mr. Cameron did more than embarrass the history departments of Eton and Oxford. He belittled what was arguably Britain’s finest hour and betrayed the public trust by demeaning the nation before a foreign audience.
I’m not arguing that Britain can match the US in economic size or military strength. As I’ve said before, we’re not a superpower. But that doesn’t mean our Prime Minister should tell America we’re inferior to them. Given the sacrifice of British blood and treasure in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mr. Cameron’s words are all the more offensive. If we’re so ‘junior’ let another, more ‘senior’ country stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Yanks and we’ll bring our troops home.
I had hoped that when the new coalition took power, Britain’s government would grow a backbone and start putting our national interest ahead of America’s. Sadly though, David Cameron has shown that when it comes to playing lapdog, he’s no different than his labour predecessors.