31 Jul. 2007

Brown Tells Bush: Britain To Pull Out Of Iraq

Well, this is going to make Bush and Howard look even more stupid:
Gordon Brown has paved the way for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq by telling George Bush he would not delay their exit in order to show unity with the United States.

After four hours of one-to-one talks with the US President at his Camp David retreat, Mr Brown told a joint press conference he would make a Commons statement in October on the future of the 5,500 British troops in the Basra region.

The Bush administration, under mounting domestic pressure to produce an exit strategy from Iraq, has been nervous that a full British withdrawal would add to the criticism. But Mr Brown made clear - and President Bush accepted - that Britain would go its own way, even if that gave the impression the two countries were diverging.

Mr Brown's willingness to pursue an independent British policy in Iraq will be seen as an important break with Tony Blair. Mr Brown said the two leaders had had "full and frank discussions" - diplomatic code for some disagreements.

President Bush heaped praise on Mr Brown after their first meeting since he became Prime Minister, playing down suggestions that Mr Blair's departure would weaken the strong US-UK partnership. Revealingly, Mr Brown did not return the personal compliments, instead focusing on the historic links between the two countries and predicting they would get even stronger. This reflected his desire for a more business-like relationship with the President, instead of the strong personal bond forged by Mr Blair.

The two leaders also had to paper over their different approaches on how to respond to terrorism. While maintaining a united front, Mr Brown told President Bush that the fight could not be won by military might alone, and called for a "Cold War-style" propaganda battle in the Muslim world.

Deliberately avoiding the phrase "war on terror," Mr Brown said: "Terrorism is not a cause but a crime - a crime against humanity."
October, eh? With interest rates set to rise any day, and (even worse!) the price of beer set to rise even further, that gives Johnny even more reason for a snap election.