The double interregnum: UK-US relations beyond Blair and Bush

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The downturn in relations between the UK and the US under the premiership of Gordon Brown presents an interesting opportunity to analyse the nature of the relationship between the two states. Brown's policy of creating distance between his approach and that of his predecessor, Tony Blair, and between himself and President Bush, offers a case-study in whether it is possible to be cool towards an incumbent leader while remaining close to the state he leads. In other words: is it feasible to be anti-Bush and pro-American ? It also provides an opportunity to analyse the role of political timing in inter-state relations. By appearing driven by reaction to the events of 2003 despite taking office in 2007, Brown put himself out of step with the prevailing mood of the time. By also acting as if the Bush administration was a lame duck counting out its time to retirement in 2009, Brown allowed himself to be outmanoeuvred in his bid for America's attention by the conciliatorily pro-American new leaders of France and Germany. By acting as if the Bush administration is a political interregnum, the Brown government has invited the United States to treat his own administration the same way. The result is a dual interregnum in UK-US relations, with each incumbent leader awaiting the political demise of the other before better relations can be resumed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1131-1143
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Affairs
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2008


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