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Politics & press news – Embassy 27 – Jul 2010

Candid Cameron

Foreign Secretary William Hague promised a “distinctly different” British foreign policy and on his recent global tour, Prime Minister David Cameron delivered it with a surprising candour that has divided opinion.

His strident support for Turkey’s membership of the EU upset Britain’s French and German allies; calling Gaza a “prison camp” won friends in the Muslim world but angered Israel; and in India, referring to Pakistan as an “exporter of terror” caused huge offence in Islamabad. In the US he seemed less concerned about the so-called ‘special relationship’ than previous British prime ministers, calling Britain a “junior partner”.

One retired British diplomat said the Prime Minister’s “grandstanding” in the host countries could damage relations with other important allies. “In the pursuit of commercial ties, he may have forgotten diplomacy,” he said.

Another observer said the “distinctly different” foreign policy was actually rather an old fashioned idea, and quoted the 19th century prime minister, Lord Palmerston: “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

What do you think? Is the PM’s candour helpful or harmful to UK foreign relations?

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