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David Cameron is not short of advice from Fleet Street as he prepares to talk to President Obama about the BP oil spill

Picture 4 We noted yesterday some of the calls on David Cameron to stand up to President Obama's attempt to associate BP with Britain over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Today the pair are due to speak on the phone at 4pm to discuss the matter - just a few hours before England play the USA in the team's opening world cup match, with the Independent front page (right) managing to note the two stories alongside each other.

Downing Street sources are saying that they expect the call to be "statesmanlike and workmanlike", with the Prime Minister reportedly keen to strike a conciliatory tone - something with which today's Independent editorial agrees:

"The Prime Minister faces calls to mount a robust public defence of BP in the face of ever sharper condemnation from Washington. His critics say that Britain's honour has been impugned, not least by the disparaging rhetoric coming from President Obama and his outdated references to "British Petroleum". They are urging Mr Cameron to hit back in kind. We disagree.

"Thus far, Mr Cameron has shown commendable restraint. Contributing to this may have been the fact that he had other things on his mind, not least his trip to Afghanistan. Downing Street has also made known that he has a long-standing telephone date with Mr Obama this weekend, when the BP disaster will be among the subjects discussed.

"That is the right approach. There should be no panicked rush to defend BP, which is a private, albeit a very big and important, British company. Nor should the Prime Minister allow himself to be lured into equating the good name of BP with the good name of Britain. There is – as yet – no wave of anti-British feeling in the United States, in the way there was with France, say, over the Iraq war. Those in the afflicted area are blaming BP, not Britain. Why risk inviting confusion?"

The Telegraph, meanwhile, anticipates that David Cameron will not be as cautious in private as he has been in public:

"It will be one of Mr Cameron's jobs when he visits Washington next month to try to establish a rapport with Mr Obama, and there is no reason why he cannot do so. The Prime Minister's refusal to be drawn into a public row with the President over BP should strengthen his credentials to make robust private representations about the anti-British rhetoric emanating from Washington."

Today's Daily Mail editorial also urges Mr Cameron not to mince his words when he speaks to President Obama later:

"Yes, he’ll have to be diplomatic... but shouldn’t he also make it clear that Mr Obama’s petty and vituperative language has aroused justified anger in Britain, while wantonly threatening the vital national interests of America’s most faithful ally in war and peace? The Prime Minister should spell out that when the President speaks of keeping his ‘boot on the throat’ of British Petroleum – as he sneeringly calls the company, more than a decade after it changed its name – he is stamping on the throats of British pensioners.

"With his wild talk of fines, sackings, reparations and suspending dividends, Mr Obama is jeopardising the very survival of a company that employs 10,000 here, pays £6billion in taxes and puts £1 in every £7 in British pension pots. Meanwhile, Mr Cameron might remind the President that, disastrous though the oil leak is, it’s causing nothing like the economic devastation wrought worldwide by the catastrophic negligence of American banks in the toxic sub-prime mortgages scandal, which caused financial pollution on an awesome scale. In that crisis, our leaders didn’t stoop to stirring up anti-U.S. feeling."

Jonathan Isaby


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