London : The government of Gordon Brown moved quickly Friday to quash speculation over a possible foreign policy shift, dismissing as “nonsense” reports that Britain would seek greater distance from the US in future.
British media Friday pounced on a speech given in Washington by one of Brown’s closest allies, Douglas Alexander, where he suggested that foreign policy should serve “core values,” and not “special interest.”
A spokesman for Brown described as “quite extraordinary” the interpretation put on Alexander’s speech, adding it had “nothing to do at all” with Britain’s relationship with the US.
Brown himself, speaking in a BBC interview, said, “I will continue to work, as Tony Blair did, very closely with the American administration.”
Alexander, Britain’s International Development Secretary, told an audience at the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington that a country’s strength should no longer be measured by its “destructive power.”
He called for the virtues of “soft power” to be recognized, suggesting that development and diplomacy should accompany, if not replace, a purely military approach.
“We must form new alliances, based on common values, ones not just to protect us from the world but ones which reach out to the world,” Alexander said.
In what was seen as “coded criticism” of US foreign policy, he added, “We need to demonstrate by our deeds, words and our actions that we are internationalists, not isolationists, multilateralists, not unilateralists … driven by core values, consistently applied, not special interests.”
However, Brown, clearly angered by “spin” surrounding the Washington speech, said: “We will not allow people to separate us from the United States of America in dealing with the common challenges that we face around the world.
“I think people have got to remember that the relationship between Britain and America, and between a British prime minister and an American president, is built on the things that we share, the same enduring values about the importance of liberty, opportunity, the dignity of the individual.”
Brown, who came to power at the end of June, has said little in public about his foreign policy aims.
He is due to visit Washington “in the next few weeks,” but is kicking off his “introductory tours” with trips to Berlin and Paris next week.