US relationship challenged by Gordon Brown

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Indy Politics

Gordon Brown will contrast "British values" with those of America today in a conference speech bound to delight Labour critics of Tony Blair's closeness to President George Bush.

With many delegates opposed to the war on Iraq, the Chancellor will emphasise repeatedly that he favours a uniquely British approach that combines the best of the US and Europe on domestic and international policy.

While stressing the need for economic discipline, he will play to his strengths in the party by underlining his commitment to ending child and pensioner poverty and tackling the "privileged elite" who run business in the UK.

However, it will be his emphasis on a "British" approach to policy that will appear to map out a possible post-Blair alternative for delegates furious with the Prime Minister's perceived cosiness with Mr Bush.

The Chancellor will in particular amend one of Mr Blair's favourite phrases about transatlantic relations, stating that Britain should be "more than a bridge between Europe and America". It should instead act as a "beacon" for other countries.

"Where America is enterprising but not today seen as fair, the rest of Europe is socially cohesive but not today seen as enterprising, we in Britain can be the first country to combine a vibrant and enterprising economy, awash with dynamism with a strong public realm where public services are based not on charges or vouchers but free to all," he will say.

"And so, by standing up for British values and with our outward-looking internationalism, Britain can be more than a bridge between Europe and America. Our British values should make us a beacon for Europe, America and the rest of the world, building a pro-Atlantic, pro-European consensus."

Although Mr Brown has been assiduous in pointing out his support for Mr Blair during the war on Iraq, many delegates will be boosted by any criticism of US failures.

As well as the White House's poor record on "fairness", the theme of this week's conference, Mr Brown will attack the EU's failure to reform its economies and the Common Agricultural Policy that keeps poor countries poor.

"We will show that the British national economic interest is best advanced as an active partnership in Europe," he will say. "Not Britain versus Europe, but Britain part of Europe, promoting economic reform, reform in the Stability and Growth Pact and most urgently, following the disappointment at Cancun for world trade and developing countries, we must do more to tackle the scandal of the CAP.

"Rather than allowing Europe and America to look inwards and stand apart, we will promote a new transatlantic economic partnership. I passionately believe that a Labour Government and reforms in Labour policies to enterprise, work and family life, life-long learning and public services, we in Britain can, even amid the fierce competitive pressures of globalisation, be the first country of this era that combines modern economic strength with eradication of pensioner and child poverty."

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