How Will Britain’s Upcoming Election Affect U.S. Relations?

By Sadie Bass

Mar 12, 2010 2:58pm

ABC's Jean-Nicholas Fievet reports from London: What kind of partner will Great Britain be for the United States if there’s a change of government in London this spring? “Solid but not slavish” according to William Hague, the man who could be the next UK foreign secretary. And if his party forms the next government, he suggests that it will be less idealist in international affairs than the administrations of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. An election is imminent, and polls indicate that opposition Conservatives led by David Cameron are in a good position to win back power after 13 years in the wilderness. As the person in charge of the party’s foreign policy, William Hague has been outlining what kind of relationship a future conservative government wants to have with Washington. During a speech in London this week he called the transatlantic alliance “an irreplaceable bond” and a “considerable advantage” for the UK. He was also keen to stress that he believes a more candid relationship with the US will be better for both countries. “Britain will sometimes differ in its policy from America even though our shared interests and values mean that we will on most occasions wish to act together. As America's close friend, it also falls to us sometimes to impart a frank message”. Mr Hague describes his outlook in foreign affairs as “liberal conservatism”. “We combine a belief in freedom, human rights and democracy with a scepticism of utopian schemes to remake the world, a cherishing of what works well in practice and a strong belief in the continued relevance of the nation state”. He praised President Obama’s efforts to reach out to Iran, but also made it clear that a conservative government would fully support tough new sanctions if no progress is made. The most crucial cooperation with the US would be in Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to Mr Hague. “The Afghan government must of course implement its commitments on administrative reforms, corruption and ensuring free and fair parliamentary elections later this year.” And Hague believes that a conservative government would be able to use Britain’s historic links with Pakistan to make that country into a more stable state.

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