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Page last updated at 09:36 GMT, Saturday, 4 December 2010

UK 'neurotic, sycophantic, sentimental' over US relations


What do documents released by the Wikileaks website tell us about the nature and state of the so-called "special relationship" between Britain and the United States?

In the most recent revelations, a senior American diplomat based in London is alleged to have noted that speculation about the relationship is "more paranoid than usual... it would be humorous if it were not so corrosive".

The writer and academic Timothy Garton Ash told Today presenter Justin Webb that the files show a picture "of a neurotic old aunt constantly fretting whether her rich and powerful nephew still loves her".

Adding that the British attitude to the relationship was "neurotic, sycophantic, sentimental", he said that "in the end we would be a better friend to the United States, for example, had we had warned them when they were making a huge mistake going into Iraq".

Jonathan Powell, Downing Street chief of staff to Tony Blair, commented that "it is a bit embarrassing when you look quite so desperate for the friendship of the United States...

"There's a shift over time that happens in the relationship as we sink in importance in the world," adding that "an awful lot depends on the personal relationship between the president and the prime minister".

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