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Daily View: US-UK relations after BP oil spill

Clare Spencer | 09:26 UK time, Friday, 11 June 2010

Commentators discuss BP's oil spill and how it is affecting US-UK relations.

The Daily Mail editorial expresses disappointment that David Cameron didn't stick up for BP:

"Soon after David Cameron became leader of the Conservative Party, he promised a new approach to the special relationship with America.
"If that relationship was to thrive, he argued, a new frankness would be required, because 'your long-standing friend will tell you the truth, confident that the friendship will survive'.
"And now surely it's time for Mr Cameron to tell some of these truths to President Obama, in defence of BP, a vital British company that has been systematically sabotaged by a petty and vengeful American government."

The Telegraph editorial argues that Mr Cameron needs to be firm with Mr Obama when he talks to him this weekend:

"In his conversation with the President, Mr Cameron needs to make clear that the long-term financial well-being of BP is crucial to the economies of both Britain and the US. Despite Mr Obama's insistence on associating BP with Britain, it is a multinational company, 40 per cent of whose shareholders are American. Mr Obama is beginning to sound stridently anti-business and anti-oil, neither of which can be in the economic interest of his own country, let alone ours. His impotence in the face of this environmental calamity is understandably frustrating, but this is the time for a cool head and a steady hand. The long-term relationship between Britain and America should not be jeopardised by a presidential response that has been more petulant than statesmanlike."

Philip Stephens in the Financial Times expresses disappointment at how President Obama has dealt with the disaster:

"I do not carry any candles for BP. Nor am I terribly fussed if a US president thinks there are votes to be garnered by stirring up anti-British feeling. The Brits will get over it. It is fair to say that BP has badly fumbled its response to the crisis. If prior negligence is proved, the company must surely stump up billions of dollars in recompense for the havoc wrought by the spill. All that said, surely the leader of the world's most powerful nation can think of better things to do than to think up new ways to vilify BP's chief executive Tony Hayward?"

Phil Hendren says at his blog Dizzy Thinks that the British element of BP is questionable:

"By continually, and repeatedly referring to 'British Petroleum' the politicos over the water are constantly pushing a subliminal line that it's not America's fault. The key here is to refer to another nationality in order to ignore the reality that many of the staff involved before it went wrong are American. To ignore the fact that the company is a merger of one of America's own oil big boys."

Conservative MP John Redwood mirrors this sentiment in his blog:

"I understand your President keeps referring to British Petroleum, as if the UK was seeking some kind of macabre revenge for the long ago War of Independence which you won rightly and magificently. We share no such feeling. Let me explain. The company concerned is BP. It is a global multinational, with more of its employees and assets in the USA than in the UK. It has global shareholders, with as much of its stock owned by American individuals and Pension funds as owned by British interests. Many of its Directors and senior managers are American. One of its principal forerunners was British Petroleum, but it has changed and grown out of all recognition since those days. It has been a large operator in the USA for many years and has been a pioneer of new and hostile territories for oil exploraiton to seek to meet US demand for petroleum products. In the Gulf it was using an American drilling company and American service companies to seek oil in very deep water."

Labour MP Tom Harris says in his blog that associating BP with Britain is forgivable:

"Can you imagine if an American-owned oil spillage of a similar scale had occurred in British waters? There would have been (rightly) outraged condemnation by goodness knows how many British politicians as well as the inevitable anti-American demonstrations in the streets.
"President Obama finds himself in office during a truly dreadful and calamitous environmental disaster. I think he can be forgiven for not putting BP's shareholders at the top of his agenda."

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