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Blair's successor should distance UK from US

Prime Minister Tony Blair's successor will have to distance Britain from the US and draw closer to Europe because of the „debacle” of Iraq, the Chatham House said in a study on the future of UK foreign policy.

Blair, planning to leave office next year, is traveling in the Middle East this week, seeking to revive the peace process between Israel and Palestinians and to curb violence in Iraq. Blair backed President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003. „A distancing of the UK from the US and a closer relationship with Europe are requirements of the post-Blair foreign policy,” the London-based international affairs institute said in London today. The report is aimed at stimulating debate about the direction of Britain's foreign policy after Blair retires.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, the ruling Labour Party's finance minister since 1997, is favorite to take over. Blair's support for Bush and the Iraq war have helped reduce the popularity ratings for the ruling Labour Party to record lows this year. Labour had the support of 33% of voters compared to 34% for the opposition Conservative Party and 19% for Liberal Democrats, according to a survey of 1,513 voters between December 8 and December 10 conducted by Populus Ltd. (Bloomberg)