John Major Tells Britain To Move On From 'Special Relationship' With United States
The 70-year tradition of referring to Britain and America's "special relationship" must be "consigned to history", Sir John Major has said.
In a keynote speech on Anglo-American relations, he said US presidents are encouraged to keep using the phrase but dismissed it as "patronising".
The former prime minister said global relations were shifting and the White House looks "increasingly to the Pacific".
He also warned of a range of "potential fissures" between Washington and Europe, particularly the growing unease over the future of Nato.
Europeans should be "shame faced" over their diminishing contribution to the alliance, he said. The US now shoulders 75% of the Nato defence spending, 25% more than it did at the turn of the millennium.
The "alarm" that has sparked in the US is understandable, Sir John told the think-tank Chatham House, adding: "It is simply not acceptable for some countries to put limits on their operational commitment to Nato."
Warning against preserving Anglo-American relations in "aspic", he argued the link was about self-interest and mutual regard and should not be undervalued by draping it in "sentimentality".
Strong cultural and trade links "keep us close together - emotionally and psychologically", he said.
"Too often, people talk of a 'special relationship'," he added. "Every president is advised to use the phrase and courteously does so but - although not intended to be so - it is rather a patronising term.
"It is time to consign this phrase to history. We don't need it. Despite self-interests that may be diverging, what binds Britain and America together is tangible and reassuring."