Special relationship or one-way street?

Can someone just remind me about this Special Relationship business. I know it’s very wonderful and important, and I know the whole country will be sitting on the edge of their sofas and dabbing their eyes, as they watch Dubya and Tony make their glistering-toothed expressions of fiefdom and fealty in Washington today.

But can someone explain, just one more time, what we get out of it? Here we are, giving our blood and treasure in support of an entirely US-inspired plan to conquer Iraq. We send the Black Watch. We lose British lives. We earn the barely veiled scorn of much of the world, for seeming to be the poodles of Uncle Sam.


I am not suggesting that any of these things are dishonourable things to do. It just seems to be give, give, give, this Special Relationship. And that is why, if Tony Blair is casting around for something he might ask by way of requital for his devotion, I have a suggestion. It is that the Americans should stop treating this country like a vassal state, whose citizens can be whisked off for trial – without any evidence as to their crime – in the territory of the imperial power.

Because that is how things are at the moment, under the Extradition Treaty that David Blunkett signed with America in 2003. Presented as a measure to speed up the extradition of terrorist suspects, it has netted a man called David Bermingham, and I assure you that I would be just as outraged about the treatment of Mr Bermingham if he did not happen to live in the beautiful constituency of Henley.

In fact, he has a very considerable property there, and you will deduce that he is not, therefore, one of life’s more obvious victims. He is, to be brutally honest, a bit of a yuppy. He is about 41, with iron grey hair, round glasses, and a faint air of irony. He is also accused of a very complicated fraud, which the American authorities have connected with the Enron affair, and the nub of it is that he and his two co-accused have allegedly pocketed about $7.3 million, by niftily persuading their employer to sell a firm in which they had an interest for much less than it was worth, and pocketing the difference – and if you didn’t understand that fully, don’t worry, because neither did I.

It doesn’t matter. The details of the alleged fraud are irrelevant. All you need to know is that the allegedly ripped-off employer was Natwest Bank, that the ripping-off took place in Britain and that all three rippers-off are British. If it was a crime, it was a British crime, not an American one, committed by British criminals, against a British firm, and it is no mere patriotism that makes me think the matter should be tried in this country.

As things stand, David Bermingham and his colleagues are to be supermagnetically sucked across the Atlantic without even the protection of a preliminary hearing in this country to establish whether the evidence is sound. They face years on bail in Texas, and colossal expense in fighting a case in the United States – and, without wishing any disrespect to Texas and its legal arrangements, they would much rather be arraigned in this country.

So why doesn’t the Serious Fraud Office take up the case? Why doesn’t Natwest pursue the miscreants here, given that the money was, as I say, allegedly taken from a British firm? It is far from clear, though the Bermingham Three say that if they were tried in this country, the case would be thrown out instantly.

It is only the United States that seems to want to put them on trial. The United States says it has jurisdiction in the matter, since American telegraphic equipment (a phone line) was used to transfer the money around the Cayman Islands. The United States has been on to the Home Office and snapped its fingers, and the Home Office has scuttled off to round up these UK nationals, like some satrap doing the bidding of the King of Persia.

I would not mind so much, if the 2003 Extradition Treaty were not so lopsided. Many will recall the chronic difficulties this country has had, over the years, in persuading the Americans to cough up IRA suspects. The American Constitution requires that the requesting country should show “probable cause” that the proposed extraditee is guilty of the crime in question, and, partly as a result, the total number of suspected IRA terrorists we have winkled out of the Americans is exactly nil.

We, by contrast, are far more supple in our approach. We make no such evidential demands. If the Americans request the extradition of a suspect from Britain, we merely require them to establish that the person we are sending is the person in question, and then, since we assume that the American judicial system is admirable in all respects, we hand them over without delay.

That is the imbalance enshrined in the 2003 Extradition Treaty; and yet even so, it turns out that the Senate is refusing to enact the text in America, while here in Britain, good old obedient, wet-nosed, lolling-tongued, moulting-furred Britain, Blunkett has slammed our side of the treaty through the Commons.

When Caroline Flint, the Home Office minister, was challenged on this the other day, she said that both Ireland and France had similarly unbalanced arrangements with America. Nonsense. In Ireland, there is no obligation to extradite an Irishman, if the offence is deemed to be local; and in France there is no obligation to extradite a French citizen.

There are two possible solutions. We could amend our law, so as to allow the Home Secretary to refuse extradition in cases where a crime has been committed in whole or in part in the UK. Or else the Americans could do the decent thing, and change their law in such a way that it mirrors the arrangements of their most leal and trusty ally.

65 thoughts on “Special relationship or one-way street?”

  1. Boris,

    Either we (USA and UK) have an extradition treaty or we don’t. If they crime meets the test of the treaty then off he goes. Regain power and change the treaty, oh yea you can’t.

    I will give you credit for defending an Enron perp, you must be the first in the world media and polictical circles to do that one.

    Boris, just a tip – stop getting everything you know about American and Texas from Michael Moore, Molly Ivins, Dan Rather and almost worst of all Bill Bryson.

    Us conservatives expect so much more from someone like you than political hackery. How about some better ideas and a backbone. Glib jabs at Dubya may be popular but just think of how you will be treated in the USA equivalent of the BBC when you are PM. I can’t wait, I already have the clips of Monty Python and the Upper Class Twit of the Year ready.

    Regards, Texas Tom

  2. We get nothing from the relationship except the vague hope that the US will pitch in if we need them (eventually) and not wage war upon us. They are bullies, not friends.

  3. Fig,

    Grow up and get your head out of your village. Try reading a book on world history of the last 200 years and you might think otherwise.

    Those 50 million new voters in Afghanistan and Iraq were “bullied” into voting for the candidate of choice? As Boris loves to say GWB is a “war monger”. How juvenile and pandering to think much less say such a thing. The USA was attacked over and over several times and finally Dubya struck back.

    Your Brits still shock me. You clearly think like some people in this world do not deserve basic rights like you have. Bigots I guess.

    Not that the BBC will tell you about it today, but take a look at what the Marines found in Fallujah today. Think those people were bullied by GWB or who?

    Wake up, you are all becoming fat and spoiled. At least we can dialog since you can still speak English and not German.

    One way street – get real – my great uncle is buried in that f____g place called France helping you fight the Nazis.

    Have a little context, village people.

    Regards, TX Conservative Tom

  4. Hey guys over there: Sorry about him. We’re not all hawkish fools stuck 60 years in the past, I promise.

  5. Hey Tx Liberal,

    It figures all you can do it call me names and of course, as we are used to here in Texas and the USA offer NOTHING as an option. At least nothing that would return in a million years your party to power in a low tax, pro business conservative state an overwhelming number of the citizens living here love.

    That is exactly my problem with people like Boris Johnson, a conservative, not offering anything of substance, but instead calls Bush names. Boris is better than that and I know it but you on the other hand repersent a plan of name calling and class warfare and therefore are hopeless. Your party offers nothing and the polls have spoken, you lost.

    So go find a conspiracy theory about mind control, stolen elections or black helicopters at Ft Hood to be worried about.

    Unless you find martians hidden in the Bush ranch in Crawford you are not going to win an election on that nutty stuff anytime soon.

    If the Tories want to return to power they better stop and listen to the words of Dubya and stop worrying about his hair or his English instead return to being the party of Thatcher, a party that stood for something, said what it meant and then did it.

    Tx Conservative Tom (So.OXON Resident Part-Time)

  6. I think the basic argument of the piece is sound, but it comes in a wrapper that spoils it. I’m reminded of Tony Blair’s response in the Commons to Michael Howard, viz. that he was “trying to capitalize on ant-war sentiment”. It’s tempting to wonder if Michael Howard has asked Boris to keep doing that in the Telegraph. But I suspect that is unfair: Boris certainly comes across as his own man. He may well be pursuing that strategy off his own bat, however.

    The title “Special relationship or one-way street?” implies that we are serving America’s interests, but they are not serving ours. I think that would be difficult to argue: either Saddam was a threat to the stability of the region or he wasn’t. If he was, then it was in everyone’s interest he went. However, Boris does not argue in terms of “interest” but in terms of who has the most say. Well, what does he expect, bearing in mind that the U.S.’s contribution dwarfs everyone else’s? During the Great War the arriving Americans initially fought in Britsh clothing and with French weapons. The world has changed since then.

    And so the point of the story – which is really about extradition – gets obscured. The last major row of this sort, of course, involved a Spanish magistrate attempting to usurp Argentine jurisdiction by trying to extradite someone from British soil for offences committed in Argentina. And who can really say where the combination of the European Court and Europol is leading? So this doesn’t *need* to come in an anti-U.S. wrapper.

    I think we could also find parallels in the willingness of British officials to pursue EU legislation, often to the ruin of small businesses, that other EU countries dodge – something Christopher Booker regularly documents in the Sunday Telegraph.

    The problem might well be that our political class is not particularly patriotic – in fact, sees patriotism as a vice. Consequently, it is never eager to uphold British interests or British honour. New Labour has, in cahoots with the EU, attempted to Balkanize the country into “regions”.

    The Americans, at least, have no hangups about patriotism. And, as Boris, being a Classicist, would know, neither did the Greeks or Romans. But pietas, once a virtue, is now out of fashion.

  7. I think if Britain has a special relationship with anyone it should be the European Union. Why does Blair think it’s so necessary to follow the USA around all the time? It just feels like he’s sticking all our heads above the parapet.

  8. It seems to me that Boris has a point (as usual) although he may have obscured it (once again).

    Part of the obscuration is not his own doing. He simply voiced a criticism of the current US President/government. Although we Brits have a close relationship with the US, I don’t see the problem with this. Friends tell friends when they have things wrong. Unfortunately the current President (and much of his country) are so thin-skinned that they react with horror and accuse anyone levelling any criticism, serious or playful, big or small, of anti-americanism, etc.

    This is childish. It means that although we all have extreme disquiet about the way the Americans are handling the war on terror. For example the current assault on Fallujah is more brutal on the civilian communities in that city than Saddam managed to be in supressing the Shia uprising in 1991. I think just about all of us feel the US is being disproportional, and are ensuring that they will lose the political battle just as they ensure a military victory with overwhelming firepower.

    Now if we, their friends, can’t tell them that they are handling things badly, then who can? The funny thing is, our PM is characterised as GWB’s poodle, but in many ways the Americans act like they are our teenage children. Hopefully by the time Boris is our PM they would have outgrown adolescence and he can have a mature relationship with them!

  9. hey boris

    how about your “special relationship” with the girl at the spectator eh?

    now theres something to talk about!!!!

  10. “There are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests” Palmerston. Blair ignores this by clinging to the Bush government. In time he will be seen as one of the weakest of our prime ministers.

    Geopolitics, history and common sense all indicate that a dominant power chooses its own policies without being influenced by the special wishes of others – however friendly. We should not expect favours from the Americans, it simply doesn’t work like that.

    Britain should decide what it wants and then try to make alliances around those objectives. For example, if it wants more action on climate control it should get together with other countries that are looking for the same thing.

    Historically Britain has almost always been against a dominant power: against the France of Louis XIV and Napoleon, the Germany of Hitler etc. That is the way that we have maximized our influence as a relatively small country.

  11. Oh dear.

    And we haven’t got around to punishing most of our own naughty Enron boys, have we?

    Mr Berminham was lax in failing to contribute heavily to Bush’s campaigns.

  12. We let the american FBI shut down UK based free open online media outlets:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3732718.stm

    That’s too close.

    A Minister has been questioned in the House but he didn’t answer:

    ” John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): On 7 October, under the authority of the mutual legal assistance treaty and, we believe, at the instigation of the FBI, agents visited the offices of Indymedia and removed its computer servers. Indymedia is an international news agency that has extensively covered investigations into the war and the Bush and Berlusconi regimes. May we have a statement next week to explain on what authority the action was taken, what representations foreign Governments made and the justification for the action?

    Mr. Hain: I am not aware of the details of the matter but the Home Secretary will have noted my hon. Friend’s points.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmhansrd/cm041021/debtext/41021-07.htm
    21 Oct 2004 : Column 1025

  13. I’m watching ITV at 2am on Saturday morning…

    The advert breaks are prettymuch solid Government public information films … what an infuriating waste!
    I’ve been warned about the dangers of talking to strangers online – in something that looks like a parody of a nescafe commercial…
    A cartoon bunny has warned me that the countryside is a dangerous place for the inappriopriatly clothed city dweller …. and I’ve been warned repeatedly over the last fre months that if I sell my car I must send the registration document to the DVLA or Ken’ll be sending me congestion charge fines … and I’ll get speeding fines …

  14. In historical terms, it does seem as though Britain is best served by maintaining its exclusive ‘relationship’ with the United States. Now is no different.
    As you would know Boris, as a former Brussels correspondent, an extradition treaty that might infringe on the rights of a theiving Enron executive is far from the greatest threat to British legal & political soverignty at the moment. Shying away from the Americans, although they have undoubtably made a pigs ear of large portions of this war, is the last thing that Britain needs to do. If Britain wants influence, it must keep a participatory finger in both pies. In GW’s world view, “yer either with us or against us” and its much better to have his ear. That much is true to the extent that turning our back on Washington would mean that Britain’s voice would join the collective European anti-American whinge – indistinguishable, opportunistic and utterly ineffectual. Not to mention the matter of principle: the war was fundamentally the right thing to do despite the hash that we’ve made of it.

    This is not to suggest that Britain should tow GW’s line at all times, but if Blair picks and chooses his battles while he has American confidence then he has a much better chance of exerting some influence over those in Washington that whisper in Bush’s ear. And as the mistakes of the most ardent neo-Cons in Washington become more and more intolerable, Bush might need level-headed counsel on how to set this war back on the right foot again.

  15. To HNT: Can you list the benefits Britain has received from the special relationship during the Bush presidency?

    Most British PMs since the war have been able to point to a least a few joint US-UK achievements, but that was with more moderate American governments with which we could make a common purpose on some basic issues.

    We have few, if any, common aspirations with �red-state� Christian fundamentalist Americans or neo-con politicians. However close we may be to the thinking of the liberal half of the US population, it was that half which lost the election.

  16. > how about your “special relationship” with the girl at the spectator eh?

    Ahem, mediaho, I think you are confusing two people here. You are thinking of Mr Don Lidl who works for Boris. Boris himself is a decent happily married man.

    > To HNT: Can you list the benefits Britain has received from the special relationship during the Bush presidency?

    Does anyone need to? I dare say we could find quite a few, but that is not the point. We have a shared language, history, political and legal culture, and outlook that links us. At least the Telegraph knows this:

    http://www.opinion.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2004/11/13/dl1301.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2004/11/13/ixopinion.html

    I certainly do not see myself as being “close” to the “thinking” of the “liberal” portion of the US – which is not “half” but a dwindling rump on the East and West coasts. Bush has increased his vote among Lations and blacks. Don’t take your attitudes from the Mirror. You need to get your head out of the sand and stop directing ignorant abuse at nigh on 60 million people exercising their judgment in accordance with their democratic right to do so:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2004/11/07/do0704.xml

    Bah! Wake up!

  17. ahem michael

    i think you may be getting confused yourself. im not aware of a mr don lidl. i have heard of a mr rod liddle though. perhaps that’s who you mean.

    oh, and the daily mail speaks the truth so bite me

    much love

    mediaho xxx

  18. To Michael:

    My original question to HNT was: �Can you list the benefits Britain has received from the special relationship during the Bush presidency?�

    And your response: �Does anyone need to? I dare say we could find quite a few, but that is not the point.�

    Nevertheless it _was_ my question.

    You write: �We have a shared language, history, political and legal culture, and outlook that links us.�

    We do have a shared language (which has not diverged in the way that many expected). We haven�t have a shared history since the American Revolution. Whether or not we have a shared legal culture isn�t central, although I�d suggest our systems have diverged in a way that the language has not. �Outlook� is subjective. Most of us share a common outlook with our peers, e.g. UK dentists share a common outlook with international dentists, rather than with English-speaking taxi drivers. Few Brits share the weltanschauung of the Bush constituency – the born again Christians, creationists, pro-life activists, neo-cons etc.

    You write: �I certainly do not see myself as being “close” to the “thinking” of the “liberal” portion of the US – which is not “half” but a dwindling rump on the East and West coasts.�

    Nonsense. The Democrats came within one state of winning. A more attractive candidate might have tipped the balance.

    Back to my point: the Americans that the British actually meet, the Americans that travel abroad, the Americans we do business with etc., are overwhelmingly from the �Blue States�. We are in contact with people from New York and California, from Massachusetts and Washington State. When did you last encounter someone from Nebraska or South Dakota or Oklahoma? Isn�t it rather obvious that the people closest to us in both geography and culture are the New Englanders?

    I wonder whether you have ever actually been to the States. Do you spend a lot of time watching TV? A whole lot of delusional thinking can be attributed to this habit.

    Lastly, Michael, if you want to put in all these links, why not put in the proper code?

    [Apologies for my apostrophes. For some reason Boris’s blog doesn’t seem to like them.]

  19. > Nonsense. The Democrats came within one state of winning. A more attractive candidate might have tipped the balance.

    Nonsense. The majority was 3.3 million. Don’t abuse millions of people because they don’t share your ideology. Good for them. Why should they? Did you read the article I linked to and *think* about it?

    > [Apologies for my apostrophes. For some reason Boris’s blog doesn’t seem to like them.]

    Those are known as quotation marks/inverted commas NOT apostrophes. I’d imagine you’re a Windows user (aka a luser) and composing in Word. Don’t. Use Notepad or type in directly. The system can’t be expected to recognize proprietary non-standard code:

    http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/www/windows-chars.html

  20. Just heard the news about your job – haven’t heard any facts yet but wanted to let you know that there are people out here thinking about you (and Melissa).

    Whatever may or may not have happened I hope only that you continue to impress us with your honesty on this board.

  21. To Michael:

    The US election is not decided by the popular vote, but by a state electoral college system.

    I am disappointed, but not altogether surprised, that you reply to me about punctuation, rather than any of my points about the special relationship between the USA and Britain.

    Anyway, you are right about the quotation marks (the result was unexpected), and no, I am not a Windows/Word user.

  22. We get nothing out of it at all. It’s time Blair got some backbone. We have to start to stand up and be counted, and not slavishly follow everything this corrupt, dangerous American administion says. If John Kerry had won the election, I’d have even considered voting for Blair – not any more.

    PS – I’ve just seen the bad news. Don’t let it get you down, Boris – you’re a superb politician and writer, and your time will come soon.

  23. Oh Boris, you’re having a really crap week aren’t you. I bet you really hate the mirror at the mo but Micheal Howard is being an idiot by the sounds of it.

  24. Boris. Very sorry to see the news.

    The personal private lives of politicians should remain personal and private. They should not be in the ‘public domain’.

    Damn our trashy, hypocritical, out-of-date British newspapers, and the foolish people who buy them!

  25. ffs, what the heck is Howard thinking? Boris is about the only popular / electable MP they have left

    sod it Boris, time for you to replace him at the helm, the tories could be elected in a heartbeat with you running the show.

  26. Girl at the Spectator Eh personaly I don’t expect our MP to be perfect, Who wants a prim and propper pric for a MP, no one if they require sensible politics thats for sure. Maybe I am a little off course but I would vote for a person like Jefrey Archer in preference to Tony Blair any day. But whatever you do Boris don’t upset the Yanks, George may dream up something they ask Tony to send you to the US of A pronto.

  27. Well, Michael Howard is an inept temp who either doesn’t know talent when he sees it, or resents those who have it. Never mind – he’ll be on the dole soon enough…

  28. Utterly appalling kneejerk reaction – again. Vent your anger with the other supporters in the Boriswatch.com forum…

  29. Howard is an idiot. I mean, no-one thought you’d take the leadership, but you are the only Tory I actually enjoy listening to, even when I don’t agree with you. Who cares what you do in your private life?

    Frankly, Howard made me cringe when he appeared on This Morning with his wife. All that family value crap and using your sexual partner as media meat really does my head in. Howard’s attempt to appear normal just made him look even more inhuman and very very frightening.

    Boris, ignore the gossip and ignore Howard and just carry on with the writing. The pen is mightier than the despatch box. Remember that the Spectator has a bigger circulation than the size of the Tory party. You are more powerful than Howard. He’s a jealous man. Ignore him.

  30. Oh Boris! Can’t believe you’ve lost your job! You’ve got plenty more though so you still have a platform from which to convey your indognation. Really hope you didn’t cheat on Marina, I don’t think you’ve got it in you. Even if you did, it’s hardly a reason to lose your job, you’re hardly the firt Tory to be accused of adultery.
    Good luck in getting it back, you’ve certainly got more chance of becoming PM than Mr. Howards, so hang in there old chap. Chin up.
    Tally ho

  31. “We get nothing out of it at all. It’s time Blair got some backbone.”

    There-in lies the problem as far as I’m concerned. I would try and list the accomplishments of the Anglo-American relationship during the Bush presidency, but aside from continuing collective security, there isn’t anything definitive (although there might be an argument that Bush’s gradual softening on the idea of a Palestinian state might have something to do with Blair.) Then again, just what was the fruit of the relationship during the Clinton/Blair period? Clinton’s 20 min speech in Blackpool at the Labour Conference?

    It seems to me that any sense of Britain being short-changed in the alliance is a result of Blair not getting on the phone and demonstrating that “backbone”. I recall that just before the Gulf War Thatch picked up the phone and sold GW’s father on liberating Kuwait, warning him against “going wobbly” or something to that effect. Can you imagine Blair having the same leadership? It seems to me that he constantly lags behind Washington in terms of deciding how to meet the challenges and problems of the war, or simply waits for them to tell Britain what to do. This isn’t the fault of the Americans being bullies; Blair should stop hanging on their every word and make his own decisions. What evidence to we have that Blair has ever even tried to affect policy in Iraq? Its time for him to stop thinking of Britain as just a ‘bridge between Europe and the US’. Bridges get walked over.

    If Blair came out and made some short-term tactical decisions regarding the war on terrorism and in Iraq rather than the ‘big picture’ strategic platonisms that he spews on a daily basis, then I think it would be very difficult for Bush to come out and refuse. And thats even if he would be inclined to do so in the first place.

    Britain cannot stand alone in the world and hope to have a voice. Its either Europe, or the US. And, as a Brit who lives in a ‘Blue-State’, I happen to think that the Americans are our natural ally.

    On another matter, the Tories are going to get thrashed at the next election. And thats because the likes of John Redwood are on the front benches while stars like Boris get sacked because Howard is pandering for an endorsement he won’t get.

    Chin up Boris, we’re with you.

  32. They’ve done you a favour, old man. Quite why you’ve been sacked – certainly in terms of PR – I have no idea. I mean, yes, you’re a bumbling oaf, but you’re a likeable bumbling oaf, and certainly more likeable than the rest of the Tories, even if that doesn’t say much…

    I don’t agree with your politics in the slightest, and I also don’t agree with a lot of your non-political decisions, but the party is insane to get rid of the only Conservative MP that anyone actually likes, and our democracy will suffer as a result.

    You will be back – if you want to be – but we need a decent opposition now, not in ten years.

    Ho-hum.

  33. Boris, you’re the only Tory who says moderately sane things, is popular and has a personality – so Howard sacks you?
    Sounds as though he’s quite a few seats short of a majority, in more ways than one.
    Chin up.

  34. Even just reading these comments a few things seem to tie together.

    Howard sacks Boris before a single NOTW hits the stands. My, he certainly seems to be following this closely.

    Boris is far more popular than Howard; is seen by many as a viable candidate for leader.

    Sorry, but you’ll need a tinfoil hat for the rest…

    For now, here is the heart-warming story of a love that could not be denied:
    http://www.bloggerheads.com/x-archive.asp?viewblog=20040816&date=16/08/04

    Just thought it might be illuminating to compare how both matters have been handled…

  35. Aw, Boris.
    Just read the news.
    Sorry to hear it.
    Maybe they did go mad.
    *Pat pat* on the shoulder to you, and best of luck to your future.

  36. Well it seems you are having quite an ‘annus horriblis’ this year. Chin up Boris. Life may be vile to you at the moment, but I’m sure we’ll all soon see you bouncing back.

    Could it be your unorthodox views on the special relationship are the real reason for this idiocy by Michael Howard? “Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first drive mad.” Howard must be mad literally mad to do what he has done to you. IMHO you’re too damn good for the lot of them.

  37. Boris sacked….. what a surprise. Let’s face it, nothing puts the wind up those at the top as much as seeing someone else winning the popularity stakes. Howard’s stance on this is petty, trivial and probably a good exercise in shooting himself in the foot. Let’s hope the people of Henley realise that they have a good MP and continue in their support!!

    Good luck!

  38. Sorry to hear the news, Boris. Don’t really understand all the hoo-ha – Michael Howard really is struggling, isn’t he? Here’s hoping that in the long run this turns out to be a minor setback; carry on being a slightly bonkers but independent and intelligent voice – some of us appreciate it! And I’m not even a Tory 😉

  39. Well what can we say, a sad day for the tories, Michael Howard is showing himself to be no better than TB. Tony takes us to war based on flimsy evidence which is shown to be without substance. Michael rushes in on the basis of newspaper articles which he has no time to establish the substance from papers that are notorious for embellishing the truth. Can we please have some politicians who don’t always kneejerk react to anything they hear about. Good luck Boris don’t leave politics we need your perspective

  40. Michael Howard has shown with this ridiculous knee-jerk reaction that he has incredibly poor judgement as a leader. This is our “opposition” leadership? What a joke. Don’t worry, he won’t be leading the Tories in a year’s time, and I’m sure Boris will be back.

  41. Clearly Michael sees you as more of a threat than Tony. You’ll be back when people realise that with people like Michael as leader, the conservatives will never get elected, and you are the future

  42. Boris, if, as DJ notes, you have time on your side, hopefully you can still make a worthwhile contribution to conservative politics.

    Failing that, you can at least get work doubling for Gary Busey. You’ve never heard that before, I expect.

  43. Boris:

    Welcome to the Clinton club. Isn’t it funny how the disliked and unpopular politicians always go for the jugular of the fellow everyone likes? They must’ve taken that Boris for Leader petition too seriously. Me, I don’t care if the story is true or not–I don’t see any way it could possibly be my concern. Hope it isn’t because you said it wasn’t. In any case, it doesn’t seem to have impacted your work, which is the only aspect of your life that we have business asking about.

    Melissa:
    Take a pint of milk, a 200g bar of whatever chocolate you like (I use Sainsburys own brand dark stuff), pour the milk into a pan over a low heat, break up the chocolate and put that into the pan, and whisk until the chocolate has melted. Let the milk heat up to not quite boiling, take off the heat, and pour into two mugs which have already got a shot of whatever alcohol you like. Cointreau is very nice.

  44. While partial to equal measures of vino rosso and espresso as a means of winding myself through my day, I am completely baffled (a) about the fact that I have voted Labour for 28 years and seem to be a citizen in a country headed, for the last two parliaments, by a conservative PM and (b) that the UK does not seem to get a great deal back from the US. I know that the press reported On Sunday – along with Boris’s sacking from high office (merely confirms by view that Howard is not of this world) – that Dubya is to visit this sceptred isle of ours next year to ensure that Max Bialystock is re-elected. Perhaps this is a full reward for Dr Strangelove’s comrade in arms?

    Charon QC

  45. Genuinely sorry to hear of your sacking – but, if the Press is to be believed, you insisted on being ‘sacked’ rather than resign.

    For my part, as you were engaged in a purely private matter, you were perfectly entitled to dissemble, evade, lie and even describe allegations as ‘an inverted pyramid of piffle and balderdash.’

    On the other hand, and I am sure that you would agree, had you used these evasive techniques of communication in relation to ‘official parliamentary’ matters, you would, I feel sure, have done the decent thing and have given notice of your intention to resign within 45 minutes.

    I am not a Tory – perhaps you could be persuaded, despite the ‘viagra’ of your writing and leadership at the Spectator, to consider setting up a truly independent party ?

    Or…you could do a Churchill..and cross the floor a few times while you wait your time?

    Best wishes..not that you are short of these at the moment

    Charon

  46. Boris, you’re clearly mistaken.

    There is indeed a reciprocal arrangement between the UK and Jesusland, or – as some still quaintly insist on calling it – “the USA”. It works like this: we send our chaps out to die so they can get massive oil contracts for their biggest firms. We also give them any of our citizens they ask for.

    In return we get to use their brand of “morality” – thus far the only US invention which demonstrates a sound grasp of the meaning of irony and whose use does not, nor ever will summon a posse of IP lawyers in flaming underwear – wherein a perfectly excellent politician loses his job and is publicly derided because someone thinks he may have dropped trou somewhere he didn’t oughta.

    Yep. That all seems fair and above board.

  47. To Simon Holledge:

    > The US election is not decided by the popular vote, but by a state electoral college system.

    Never said it was. My point was the sheer *number* of people you were directing abuse at. But my point obviously won’t be taken. You’re not alone – which may be a comfort to you – but which, frankly, doesn’t endear me to those of my own countrymen who feel a similar need to do that. Perhaps it is not left-liberal bigotry: perhaps it is merely envy. If so, then I can’t say I’m displeased that we’re not “top nation” any more.

    > I am disappointed, but not altogether surprised, that you reply to me about punctuation, rather than any of my points about the special relationship between the USA and Britain.

    You raised the matter. If you didn’t want a reply on the matter, you shouldn’t have raised it.

    I should concern yourself with your prissy plan to ban smoking and forget international affairs:

    http://www.skakagrall.com/archives/000159hurrah_for_bhutan.html

  48. The ‘special relationship’ with the USA

    There was a discussion on another blog about the ‘special relationship and what we get out of it’. Here are my 2 cents worth on this subject: “There are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests” Pa…

  49. I am really amazed at all this talk about what the UK gets out the relationship. How about being a moral force for good in the world. How about security. Did anyone notice what our (and I mean our as in both the Us and UK) troops did in Fallujah. Did any one notice what they found. If the people here think that they can get something better I would like to know what that is. Maybe you think that joining the rest of the corrupt and bribed OIl for Food crowd might be a good idea. Yep thats upholding the great anglo tradition. What does the UK get? maybe the satisfaction of doing the right thing. Also if I hear the famous quote “your either with us or against us” taken out of context again I will scream. Bush wasn’t refering to the kyoto treaty or trade policy. He was refering to if you harbor or aid terrorist you are against us. I think that makes alot of sense myself.Whats disgusting is everybody knows what he meant and said but just think its a funny line and now advances a myth thats it something it never was

  50. Natwest Three

    The Lib Dems have started a campaign about the US/UK lopsided extradition treaty. Essentially the US can extradite a UK citizen without presenting probable cause. For the innocent, this can mean a multiple year trial (as well as expensive defence)…

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