British press blasts Obama over BP 'attacks'
Britain's newspapers laid into Barack Obama on Friday for his "jingoistic" rhetoric over BP and urged Prime Minister David Cameron to stand up to the US president.
Broadsheets and tabloids alike hit back at Obama for his tone towards the British oil giant as fears grew that he could be stoking an anti-British backlash over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Newspapers suggested that Obama's popularity was waning, he was floundering over the environmental disaster and was looking for easy targets to hit out at, with one eye on the November mid-term elections.
The tone coming from Washington was "alarming", said The Times.
"Big oil makes a tempting target for a president with declining approval ratings," it said in its editorial.
Obama has "gone beyond conventional politics to irresponsible populism. That campaign reflects badly on him.
"Trying to kill a company to win an election is beneath him."
The newspaper's cartoon showed Obama kicking a BP ball.
The Financial Times led with the story, saying "Cameron steps into fray to defend BP".
The prime minister had "leapt to BP's defence... in a clear signal of British concerns over the rhetoric" about the spill, the FT wrote.
But other papers interpreted Cameron's words differently.
"Cameron fails to back BP in fight with Obama," said The Daily Telegraph's front page headline.
In its editorial, the Telegraph said Cameron needed to be firmer with the president, who had been "more petulant than statesmanlike".
"Mr Obama's aggressively jingoistic rhetoric might have been designed to shore up his own domestic position... but it is now sabotaging the fortunes of what was until recently Britain's biggest company," it said.
Cameron has a duty "to defend Britain's national interests by urging Mr Obama to tone down his unnecessarily fiery -- and distinctly unhelpful -- language.
"Indeed, it is disappointing that a politician whose reputation was built on his powers of persuasion should be so quick to inflame a difficult situation for his own political ends. We had thought better of him."
The Daily Mail's front page headline read: "Stand up for your country, Mr Cameron".
It said Obama was "ever more rabid", sneering, and his attacks were "rank hypocrisy".
"Now surely it's time for Mr Cameron to tell some of these truths to President Obama, in defence of BP, a vital British company that has been systematically sabotaged by a petty and vengeful American government."
The Daily Express was also outraged.
"Obama is killing all our pensions," said its front-page. "His rants against BP are a disgrace.
"The company is a massive contributor to our national wealth and these days there are not many companies about which that can be said.
"BP is entitled to take all reasonable steps to defend it from the disproportionate penalties it is being threatened with by Mr Obama."
© 2010 AFP