Clegg warns against 'spat' with US over oil spill

11th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg warned Friday against allowing a "diplomatic spat" to develop with the United States over the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster involving British energy giant BP.

"I think everyone is united on both sides of Atlantic, quite rightly and understandably within the US administration and I'm sure within BP itself, to deal with this problem," he said when asked at a Madrid economic forum about US President Barack Obama's call for BP chief Tony Hayward to be fired.

"It is an ecological catastrophe. It does need to be dealt with. I don't frankly think we will reach a solution to stopping the release of oil into the ocean any quicker by allowing this to spiral into a tit-for-tat political diplomatic spat.

"So I and whole of the British government want to play our role, as much as we can, our constructive role to find a solution to what is a huge environmental disaster," he added.

Antipathy in Washington towards the British-registered global company is causing disquiet among business leaders and politicians in London, as the price of BP's shares -- a staple of many pension funds -- plunges on concerns over the spiralling cost of the clean-up operation.

British newspapers hit back at Obama on Friday for his tone towards BP as fears grew that he could be stoking an anti-British backlash over the oil spill, and urged Prime Minister David Cameron to stand up to the US president.

"Cameron fails to back BP in fight with Obama," said The Daily Telegraph's front page headline.

The Daily Mail's front page read: "Stand up for your country, Mr Cameron."

The Daily Express also joined in, saying: "Obama is killing all our pensions."

Oil has been spewing from a well in the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon rig leased by BP exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and triggering the worst oil spill in US history.

© 2010 AFP

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