British PM says must be realistic about place in world

28th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday that Britain must be "realistic" about its position in the world, after domestic criticism over a perceived humble approach to India and the US.

Cameron said he was "not in any way talking Britain down" by suggesting that he approached an ongoing trade visit to India "with humility", and referred last week to London as a "junior partner" to the United States in World War II.

"I'm fiercely patriotic about Britain. I think we have a huge role to play in the world," he told the BBC from India, where he is pitching for investment and increased trade to create boost Britain's post-recession recovery.

He added: "But at the same time, if you want to win strong relationships with countries like India and China, you have got to talk about the future.

"Taking a realistic view of our position and place in the world and how we are going to build those relationships, I think, is a very sensible thing to do."

Cameron sparked the ire of some in the British press when he referred during a trip to Washington last week of London's "junior partner" status to the United States in the fight against Nazi Germany in World War II.

There was renewed criticism about an article the prime minister wrote Tuesday for Indian newspaper The Hindu that he was visiting the former colony -- now an economic powerhouse -- "in a spirit of humility".

"I know that Britain cannot rely on sentiment and shared history for a place in India's future. Your country has the whole world beating a path to its door," he wrote.

"But I believe Britain should be India's partner of choice in the years ahead. Starting this week, that is what we are determined to deliver."

The Daily Mail fumed: "Why this urge to put Britain down? Certainly, he should respect our former colony. But with so much to celebrate in our shared history, shouldn't both sides approach these talks in a spirit of pride?"

Norman Tebbit, a former chairman of Cameron's Conservative Party, also told the newspaper: "We should be proud of our time in India and India should be proud of what it is today."

© 2010 AFP

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