'Special relationship' was seen as joke by Obama
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Barack Obama and his aides regarded the idea of a special relationship between Britain and the US as a joke, it was claimed last night.
Jeremy Shapiro, a former presidential adviser, said the special relationship was ‘unrequited’ and he revealed he would insert references to ‘the Malvinas’ – Argentina’s name for the Falklands – into Press conferences.
Mr Shapiro said that although US officials stressed the importance of the relationship to British visitors, they would make jokes about the Falklands away from the cameras.
Barack Obama and his aides regarded the idea of a special relationship between Britain and the US as a joke, it was claimed last night
He added that the so-called special relationship with Britain ‘was never really something that was very important to the United States’.
Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Mr Shapiro said: ‘From my perspective it was very important for us to mention the special relationship in every Press conference that we had when the UK were here.
‘But really we laughed about it behind the scenes. Typically, I would try and slip in a reference to the Malvinas or something to spoil it.’
Mr Shapiro, who was an adviser in the US state department under Mr Obama, and now works at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said America did not see its relationship with Britain as any different from that with other European countries.
Jeremy Shapiro said America did not see its relationship with Britain as any different from that with other European countries
Referring to a 2009 survey that revealed 14 out of 25 EU countries believed they had a special relationship with America, he said the relationship with Britain ‘didn’t differ dramatically from other countries’.
He added: ‘It was a close relationship, a good relationship and a productive relationship. But it was the kind of relationship we would have with other countries.’
Mr Shapiro’s remarks will support the view that Britain’s bond with America deteriorated under Barack Obama – in contrast to the close political alliance between Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
The former president controversially removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office, only for Donald Trump to restore it upon his election.
He also caused anger when, in the run-up to the Brexit referendum, he claimed Britain would be ‘at the back of the queue’ for a trade deal with the US if the country left the EU.
But Theresa May made a trip to the US in January in an attempt to rekindle the special relationship.
Mr Trump has since vowed to make it ‘even better’ – and has repeatedly suggested he wants to agree a trade deal with the UK post-Brexit.
Donald Trump has since vowed to make the special relationship ‘even better’ – and has repeatedly suggested he wants to agree a trade deal with the UK post-Brexit
However, Mr Shapiro cast doubt on the president’s intentions, claiming he was ‘exploiting’ Britain’s romantic view of the special relationship to get a trade deal that benefited America.
He said: ‘Donald Trump is playing on this the way American presidents do, in the way he was willing to say those things to Theresa May when she rushed to the White House to be the first foreign leader there.
‘I think Donald Trump will be willing to exploit the UK’s need for a special relationship to get a good trade deal.’
Referring to a row in July, when the US raised the prospect of selling chlorinated chicken to the UK in a post-Brexit deal – even though the EU bans it, he warned: ‘The UK needs to be wary about that deal – there’s going to be a lot of chlorinated chickens. When they look at that, they are not going to feel particularly special.’