Bush ‘anxious over Brown’s Iraq policy’

George Bush has reportedly been warned by White House advisers that prime minister-in-waiting Gordon Brown is likely to reverse Tony Blair’s policy of supporting the US in Iraq.

As the chancellor prepares to be crowned Labour leader and then prime minister ahead of Mr Blair’s departure on June 27th, those close to the president are said to be worried that the
US leader could be left isolated by a vacuum of support for his war in Iraq.

The Sunday Telegraph reports that Mr Brown will announce a date for UK troops to withdraw from the troubled Middle Eastern country within the first 100 days of his premiership.

But yesterday, in a “farewell trip” to Iraq, Mr Blair indicated that his impending successor would continue his policy of supporting the Pentagon in Iraq.

“I have no doubt at all that Britain will remain steadfast in its support for Iraq, for the Iraqi people and for the Iraqi government as it tries to make sure it overcomes the threat of terrorism and continues to make progress,” the prime minister said in Baghdad’s Green Zone, shortly after mortars landed in the heavily-fortified complex.

“The policy I pursue is one for the whole of the government, so even when I leave government I am sure that support will continue.”

According to the Sunday Telegraph, senior White House officials have been discussing with the US president how to best handle the fallout if Mr Brown does decide to put Britain’s “special relationship” with the US under threat by withdrawing troops from Iraq.

“There is a sense of foreboding. We don’t know if he will be there when we need him. We expect a gesture that will greatly weaken the United States government’s position,” an adviser told the Sunday broadsheet.

But a source close to the chancellor said that the president’s fears of isolation were “unfounded”.

“Gordon is a committed Atlanticist who wants to strengthen and deepen our ties with America around our shared values, and who wants to persuade the rest of Europe to work in closer cooperation with America.”

Mr Bush already faces severe resistance to his Iraq policy in his own country, with the Democrat-controlled Congress opposing plans to send 21,500 additional troops to Baghdad to support a renewed security drive.

Any move away from the current US president by Mr Brown could strengthen his future relationship with Mr Bush’s successor, widely-tipped to be the Democrat party’s eventual nominee.