Dave’s bromance with Obama means little for Britain

Is Barack Obama sincere in his praise for David Cameron or is it all just politics? Emily Hohler reports.

David Cameron received apre-election boost on Friday after Barack Obama said Britain's economic recovery is evidence he "must be doing something right". The US president described Cameron as a "great friend", his "bro" and one of his "closest and most trusted partners in the world".

This did not go down well with the Labour party, says Matthew Holehouse in The Daily Telegraph. Harriet Harman told LBC Radio that Obama doesn't "really know what is going on in this country".

Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, is said to have been furious that Obama wrote a joint article in The Times with Cameron so close to an election and regards his "warm endorsement" as "extraordinary".

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Labour's annoyance is understandable, says Tim Montgomerie in The Times. Labour MPs thought Obama was "one of their own" and "transatlantic politics have been unfair on Labour for some time".

Ronald Reagan's description of Labour's unilateralist defence policy as a "grievous error" undermined Neil Kinnock's 1987 election campaign, and nothing did more damage to Tony Blair than the constant portrayal of him as George W Bush's "poodle".

Cameron may not have been portrayed as a poodle, but I've seen"very little bulldog spirit" during a period of increasing US isolationism. Last Friday Cameron admitted that he had urged Republican senators not to challenge Obama's Iran policy; "now he has been good boyed' with his West Wing treat".

Yet eight years of Obama foreign policy "may well leave the world in a much more dangerous place than eight years of Bush-Cheney".

The truth is, we have "neither the economic nor the military strength to be anything other than a minor partner to the US", says The Independent. American and British premiers now discuss more pragmatic issues, such as "countering cyberattacks and improving intelligence".

Quite, says Kiran Stacey in the FT. For all the warmth between the two men, Cameron knows that the US is turning towards Germany as its main ally in Europe. As one senior American official told the FT: "It is not that we have grown more distant from the UK But Germany is the country that can get things done in Europe."

In terms of the election, most voters won't have noticed that Cameron was in Washington, and if they did they will simply shrug, says Iain Martin in The Daily Telegraph. We expect politicians to sit in armchairs in front of the cameras pretending to talk and then stand at lecterns enthusing about their enduring friendship.

If Labour wins in May, Obama will be on the phone "to congratulate a fellow member of the political class on becoming a national leader. Who was David Cameron again?"

Emily Hohler

Emily has extensive experience in the world of journalism. She has worked on MoneyWeek for more than 20 years as a former assistant editor and writer. Emily has previously worked on titles including The Times as a Deputy Features Editor, Commissioning Editor at The Independent Sunday Review, The Daily Telegraph, and she spent three years at women's lifestyle magazine Marie Claire as a features writer for three years, early on in her career. 

On MoneyWeek, Emily’s coverage includes Brexit and global markets such as Russia and China. Aside from her writing, Emily is a Nutritional Therapist and she runs her own business called Root Branch Nutrition in Oxfordshire, where she offers consultations and workshops on nutrition and health.