Peter Hoskin

Downing Street can only reach the US answering machine

Downing Street can only reach the US answering machine
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Earlier today, Ben Brogan reported a telling comment from the Cabinet secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, that, when it comes to discussing the G20 summit with Washington, "There is nobody there ... You cannot believe how difficult it is."  The remarks have since been withdrawn, and expunged from civil service websites. 

But, in spite of the revisionism, the sentiment has cropped up elsewhere.  A couple of weeks back, the Times quoted an anonymous "British official" saying the following:

"The new US regime is like an echo chamber. We are struggling to get people even to return our calls. They are totally focused on domestic issues and have not lifted their heads to look at the international perspective."

This almost-comic lack of cooperation from the US, ahead of the G20, is hardly encouraging for Brown.  Throw in our PM's emphasis on forging a global "grand bargain", and most of the elements are already there for a very damp squib.