Brown and Cameron clash over ‘new era’

Tories taunt PM over claims America’s choice of Obama signals ‘time for change’ in UK

The election of Barack Obama provoked a fierce clash between Gordon Brown and David Cameron after the Tory leader claimed he would benefit from a similar "time for change" factor at the general election.

Mr Cameron said: "In these difficult times, people everywhere are crying out for change. Barack Obama is the first of a new generation of leaders who will deliver it." He argued in the Commons that Mr Brown's recent attack on him as a "novice" was now redundant after change trumped experience in the US election.

The Prime Minister hit back, saying he had told the President-elect in a message of congratulation that "serious times need serious people". Ridiculing the Tories' stance on government borrowing, he said: "The only change that they represent is that they change their minds every week."

Labour strategists admit that Mr Cameron's "change" message may work now but believe the "Obama effect" will have faded by the time the British people vote in 2010. They stressed that the change in the US had been away from a right-wing party to a progressive one which shared many of Labour's values.

Mr Brown will speak to the President-elect on the telephone soon but they are unlikely to meet when he goes to Washington for a summit of world leaders on the financial crisis on 15 November. A formal meeting may have to wait until after the new President is installed in January.

The British embassy in Washington will be trying to put the Prime Minister in pole position for the new President's first meeting with a foreign leader. But the sharp-elbowed Nicolas Sarkozy may hold the trump card because France currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency.

Although Mr Brown was initially closer to the Clintons, his foreign policy chief Simon McDonald and special adviser Stewart Wood have close links with the Obama camp. There was a blip when a leaked memo by the Washington ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald suggested Mr Obama was "aloof", but Downing Street insiders claim it has long passed.

Team Brown is hoping for a more fruitful relationship than the Prime Minister has had with George Bush, which has been "business, not personal" in a deliberate contrast with Tony Blair's approach. The Prime Minister believes he shares the same values and policy agenda of the incoming President, who he described as "a true friend of Britain".

On reform of the financial system and bodies such as the United Nations, there should be broad agreement between President-elect Obama and Mr Brown. Ditto climate change, where the US election result should boost the prospects of a new international agreement to cut carbon emissions. Talks on the issue begin in Copenhagen next year.

One difficult area may be free trade. Although Mr Obama made protectionist noises while seeking the Democratic nomination, Mr Brown believes he is an internationalist at heart. Another potential problem is Iran's nuclear programme. On the face of it, President-elect Obama's desire for "unconditional engagement" is at odds with Britain and the UN's position that Tehran's nuclear enrichment programme must be suspended before negotiations can begin.

The two leaders should, however, have a common agenda on Iraq, as they both want out. Afghanistan might be a little more tricky but Mr Brown hopes the new president's demand for greater "burden sharing" by Nato members will be aimed primarily at Germany rather than turning into a call for yet more British troops. British officials believe the pair will agree on a "comprehensive" three-pronged approach in which any military "surge" would be backed up by economic and political change.

Mr Brown has spoken about the need to win "hearts and minds" in foreign affairs. He believes that rhetoric will chime with the instincts of the man who won the hearts and minds of the American people.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible