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Blair’s goodbye to Washington

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SCOTT JAGOW: British Prime Minister Tony Blair comes to Washington today. It’s his last visit to the White House before he leaves office next month. Our man in London, Stephen Beard joins us. Stephen, for Bush and Blair, I guess this is so long, farewell.

STEPHEN BEARD: This is the swan song, this is the final White House tête-à-tête, the end of a relationship that undoubtedly has severely undermined Tony Blair’s support back home where he’s been widely derided as President Bush’s poodle. Not an entirely fair description since they have had disagreements, particularly on economic issues.

JAGOW: Yeah what are the major disagreements between the two?

BEARD: Well oddly enough, for a left-of-center politician like Tony Blair and a right-wing Republican like President Bush, it’s been over the issue of free trade. Blair has long regarded Bush in some of his policies as anti-free trade. Blair was concerned about Bush raising subsidies for U.S. farmers and also imposing tariffs on foreign steel, but undoubtedly their biggest disagreement has been over global warming. Tony Blair simply does not agree with Bush that signing up to targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions is economically damaging.

JAGOW: Are we actually expecting anything substantive to come out of this final meeting between the two?

BEARD: No, although Tony Blair, it is said, is going to use to shift President Bush to change his mind over cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The feeling on this side of the Atlantic is that unless President Bush does actually accept the idea that the U.S. should sign up to some sort of targets for greenhouse gas emissions, next month’s G8 summit in Germany will be a failure.

JAGOW: Alright Stephen Beard in London, thank you.

BEARD: OK Scott.

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