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'Special relationship' with US is over: UK MPs

world Updated: Mar 28, 2010 18:38 IST

Britain must end its "special relationship" with the US to end the perception that it was a "subservient poodle," British MPs have recommended, saying London should be willing to say "no" when its interests diverge with that of Washington.

Britain's special relationship with the US — forged by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt in the second world war — no longer exists, says a committee of influential MPs.

Instead, America's relationship with Britain is no more special than with its other main allies, according to a report by the House of Commons foreign affairs committee published today.

In an apparent rebuke to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his relationship with President George W Bush, the report says there are "many lessons" to be learnt from Britain's political approach towards the US over Iraq.

The report also warns that the perception of the UK after the Iraq war as America's "subservient poodle" has been highly damaging to Britain's reputation and interests around the world.

The MPs conclude that British prime ministers have to learn to be less deferential to US presidents and be "willing to say no" to America.

The report, entitled Global Security: UK-US Relations, says Britain’s relationship with America is "extremely close and valuable" in a number of areas, particularly intelligence co-operation.

However, it adds that the use of the phrase special relationship, in its historical sense, "is potentially misleading and we recommend that its use should be avoided."

They said the term "special relationship" coined to describe the country's close ties with the US should no longer be used because it fails to reflect a true picture of relations between the two nations.

"The overuse of the phrase by some politicians and many in the media serves simultaneously to devalue its meaning and to raise unrealistic expectations about the benefits the relationship can deliver to the UK," the committee said in its report.

Churchill used the phrase shortly after World War II to describe the shared cultural, political and historic ties that helped defeat Nazi Germany, and the fears of the looming Cold War.

The committee suggested Britain should be more pragmatic in UK-US relations, and accept it may not enjoy the same sway on Washington as in the past.

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

"Over the longer-term, the UK is unlikely to be able to influence the US to the extent it has in the past," Gapes said.