Downing Street denies Tory claims of pro-Obama bias

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Downing Street denied Conservative accusations that Prime Minister Gordon Brown is taking sides in the US presidential election after he praised Democrat candidate Barack Obama in a magazine article.

Writing in the Parliamentary Monitor, Mr Brown said the Democrats were the party in America who were developing ideas to help people through the current economic difficulties.

He cited one of Mr Obama's proposals to help families facing repossession.

He did not mention Republican candidate John McCain.

It was reported a member of Mr McCain's campaign team contacted the British Embassy in Washington DC to express concern about the article.

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said the Prime Minister should not do anything which suggests he is taking sides, as he will have to work with whichever candidate wins November's election. He called on Mr Brown to explain why he "appeared to be favouring the Democrats".

In his article, Mr Brown said that around the world it was "progressive" politicians who were grappling with the challenges of rising food and oil prices and the changes wrought by globalisation.

He added: "In the electrifying US presidential campaign, it is the Democrats who are generating the ideas to help people through more difficult times.

"To help prevent people from losing their home, Barack Obama has proposed a Foreclosure Prevention Fund to increase emergency pre-foreclosure counselling, and help families facing repossession."

Mr Hague said: "A responsible British Prime Minister needs to be ready to work with either presidential candidate after the US election, and should neither take sides nor be seen to be taking sides.

"Gordon Brown needs to make clear why he appeared to be favouring the Democrats in this article and to explain whether this was his deliberate intention or a careless mistake."

Downing Street denied that Mr Brown was taking sides in the US election.

A No 10 spokesman pointed out that Mr Brown had met Mr McCain both in London and the USA this year, just as he has met Mr Obama.

"The PM is not endorsing a candidate, and never would," said the spokesman.

"As he has made clear when asked on a number of occasions, the election is a matter for the American people, and he looks forward to working closely with whoever is the next President across a range of areas of common interest.

"This was an article written ahead of the party conferences in Britain and talks about some of the measures being taken around the world by centre-left political parties to deal with the current global economic challenges."

Mr Brown welcomed Mr McCain to 10 Downing Street in March before he was nominated as Republican candidate for the presidency.