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Are UK and US on a collision course?

Mark Mardell | 00:16 UK time, Monday, 14 June 2010

mardellfaces_595.jpgAfter such a sweet beginning, could Cameron be on collision course with Obama? No, not over THAT. I'm pretty sure the two men just about see eye-to-eye over both BP's responsibility and its economic importance, but have to do a bit of posturing for their public, by which I mean their media.

The pressure on Cameron to "stand up" to the president has more to do with internal conservative politics than the special relationship.

But there could be a falling out down the road. Or even just up the road, at the G8 in Canada at the end of this month. Just as the new prime minister is warning that what is on the way is not so much belt-tightening as a crash diet, the president is calling for the belt to be let out a little more.

President Obama's relationship with Gordon Brown always seemed rather frosty. I am told that Mr Brown's assumption that things would be done his way, and his "working methods" didn't go down well at the White House, although I am not sure if this tension was genuinely between the two men or just their officials. But at least Mr Brown was an
enthusiastic supporter of the president's plan to spend to avoid economic catastrophe.

On this side of the Atlantic the plan continues. Mr Obama has just written to leaders in Congress urging them to approve a $50bn plan to stop teachers, firefighters and police being laid off, to continue spending on scientific research and to pay for tax cuts of small business.

He says: "Taken together, these measures to jump-start private sector job creation, avoid massive layoffs at the local and state levels and help the unemployed are critical and timely ways to further the economic recovery and spur job creation. At this critical moment, we cannot afford to slide backwards just as our recovery is taking hold. We must take these emergency measures."

But the UK and much of the rest of Europe is following a different path. The model is Mrs Merkel's Swabian house wife, scrimping and saving, rather than a WAG on a spree, spending to fend off a Great Depression. Will American conservatives swallow hard and urge the president to follow Europe?


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