Global divide

DESPITE the anti-British flavour of some of Barack Obama's remarks during BP's hapless attempts to stem the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, all the indications from the G8/G20 conference in Canada are that any differences in the transatlantic relationship can easily be smoothed over.

Ever since David Cameron entered Downing Street last month, both President and Prime Minister have made it clear that they are determined to forge a good relationship even if that means agreeing to disagree on some major topics.

The Canadian summit has clearly demonstrated, for example, that, when it comes to confronting the economic crisis, Britain and America will each go their own way.

Indeed, a global division has emerged in Toronto, with Washington on one side, showing faith in President Obama's ability to spend his way out of the crisis and carry on using fiscal stimulus to avoid the possibility of a double-dip recession. On the other, London finds itself in the unusual position of standing foursquare beside many of its European allies, determined that deficit reduction by way of public spending cuts is the only way forward.

As a result, G20 members seem to be committing themselves to working together to achieve growth, while recognising that this aim can be achieved through different methods.

And with William Hague talking about a new foreign policy centred on relationships with emerging nations – and Mr Cameron agreeing in Toronto to a visit to China in November – it may be the case that, while Britain's relationship with America clearly remains a special one, the new Government is intent on making clear that it is not the only one.