By Ray Fleming

THE joint article by Barack Obama and David Cameron printed on an “Opinion” page of The Times yesterday was a forthright statement of the common interests of Britain and the United States.

One sentence that stood out on my first reading was this: “Today the US remains the largest investor in Britain and Britain the largest investor in the US -- each supporting around a million jobs in our countries.” There were other sentences that did not ring quite so true: “The reason our relationship remains strong is because it delivers time and time again.” Iraq? Afghanistan? There are some overwritten paragraphs including one which more or less commits America and Britain to joint military action: “We are reluctant to use force but when our interests and values come together we know that we have a responsibility to act.” Syria? I wonder how this article came about and where the first draft was written.

Having looked at its prevailing literary style I would guess that the initial work was done in London perhaps with President Obama's State Visit to Britain this week in mind.

A redefinition of the time-worn “special relationship” was certainly overdue and the substitution of “essential relationship” will suffice for the moment although it suggests a pragmatic association born of common problems and lacks the emotional blood-tie implication of a “special relationship” which could be relied upon even when differences existed.