New British Foreign Secretary David Miliband (pictured on the right in Downing Street, with new junior foreign minister, Mark Malloch Brown) has acted to reassure all Atlanticists that the new Brown-led British Government would not be distancing itself from America in general or Bush, in particular. On page two of Britain's best-selling Sunday newspaper, the News of the World, Mr Miliband wrote:
"With a new Brown government some people are looking for evidence that our alliance is breaking up. There isn't any and there won't be any. Nothing has changed. Our strongest bilateral relationship is with the USA.
In the real world the US is the richest country, it has the most powerful military forces and it is driven forward by optimism and entrepreneurship - values the world needs. In the real world we are stronger together than apart."
Speaking to the BBC earlier today the Foreign Secretary said that the Brown administration's "commitment to work with the American government in general, and the Bush administration in particular, is resolute." That will be a relief to the White House which has seen Republican senators lose confidence in the Iraq surge in recent days and Team Bush know, as The Spectator's James Forsyth has speculated, that Gordon Brown has the power to fatally damage his last remaining hopes for success in Iraq.
Miliband's reassuring intervention follows worrying signs that more junior Labour ministers were distancing themselves from Bush's America. Both Mark Malloch Brown (a new junior foreign minister) and Douglas Alexander (Secretary of State for International Development) had appeared to suggest a much more multilateralist, UN-centred approach to foreign policy decision-making. The Opposition Conservatives have offered little robustness either. Only today Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague repeated calls for a "solid, not slavish" relationship with America - feeding those who believe that Britain is too close to America - and underlined Tory opposition to the surge strategy.
Before Mr Miliband's article appeared Gordon Brown had already sought to steady White House nerves. "We will not," the Prime Minister said, "allow people to separate us from the US in dealing with common challenges that we face around the world. I think people have got to remember that the relationship between Britain and America and a British prime minister and an American president is built on things that we share the same enduring values, about the importance of liberty, opportunity, the dignity of the individual and I will continue to work as Tony Blair did very closely with the American administration." The Prime Minister's Chief of Staff has written to every member of his Cabinet to underline the importance he attaches to good transatlantic relations.
Both the US and UK are unfortunately moving towards greater faith in the United Nations. John O'Sullivan dealt with the dangers of that drift in yesterday's Daily Telegraph:
"The new Washington-London convergence is around the idea of leaving these decisions to bodies like the UN - and to fellows like Malloch Brown, Alexander, and "the tranzis" (short for "transnational progressives"). If you want to know the likely result, ask the people of Darfur and Rwanda. Of course, you'll need a spiritualist medium if you expect a reply."
In his article Mr O'Sullivan reminded us of the main reasons why the special relationship will endure:
"The special relationship is rooted in two things. First, because Britain and the US (and Australia, Canada, New Zealand and India) share a common language, culture, and legal and political traditions, they tend to see the world in much the same way. The "Anglosphere" countries believe in a liberal international order and are more prepared to uphold it by force than other liberal powers.
Second, since 1941 Britain and the US (and, again, countries such as Australia, Canada, etc.) have developed practices of mutual cooperation in fields as various as war, trade, electronic spying, investment, and international institution-building. These suit both (or all) countries very well. The British armed forces and defence industry have benefited enormously from their intimate relationship with larger and more technically advanced partners in the US. It is one reason why Britain is the single most important military power in Europe (even under a penny-pinching Labour government)."