Both Sides of British Politics Congratulate Bush on Election Victory

By Kevin McCandless | July 7, 2008 | 8:15 PM EDT

London ( - In a rare display of unity Wednesday, leaders from both main political parties in Britain issued statements of congratulations to President Bush on his re-election.

"The election of President Bush is an event of genuine significance right around the world," said Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush's close ally in the war on terrorism. "It is of special significance for Britain."

"President Bush's re-election comes at a critical time," he said. "A world that is fractured and uncertain must be brought together."

Official opposition Conservative leader Michael Howard, whose party has had a long and close association with the Republican Party, issued a statement extending his "warmest congratulations" to Bush. "We look forward to working with the president."

Donald Anderson, a leading front-bencher in Blair's Labor Party, which has been deeply divided over Britain's involvement in Iraq, said the election outcome was a clear victory for Bush.

"The people have spoken," Anderson said. "Now we must work alongside our U.S. ally."

Statements from the Liberal Democrats, the country's third-largest party, reflected the ambivalence towards Bush felt by many Britons.

Sir Menzies Campbell, the party's foreign affairs spokesman, said that he hoped Bush would act swiftly to "rebuild the Atlantic partnership."

He said Bush's victory had "been at the cost of a nation more deeply divided than it was even in the 1960s."

Liberal Democratic leader Charles Kennedy said that he hoped Bush would be become more flexible in his dealings with Western Europe.

"Internationally, it is to be hoped that a second term will see a more sensitive approach to relations with long-standing allies," Kennedy said, "not least for the global efforts to combat terrorism."

Democrats Abroad organizer Jamey Dumas said in Edinburgh that despite the outcome, he was glad that it was all finally over.

"It's been a very, very long night," Dumas said, with a sigh. "Now it's time to get some rest."

The U.S. Embassy here estimates that there are roughly 250,000 U.S. citizens living permanently in Britain.

Speaking of the difficulties experienced by organizers here, Dumas said Americans didn't need to gather together as they would in a country where English wasn't the first language.

"There aren't any English language clubs to go to," Dumas said. "Just finding Americans in Britain was very difficult."

Stephen Robinson, political columnist for the Daily Telegraph, said that the Bush win was good news for Blair.

"It would have been terribly embarrassing [for Blair] if Bush had lost ... simply because everything he had done, going out on a limb, backing the war, he would have done for nothing," Robinson said.

"Besides, I think he would have had an awkward relationship with John Kerry," Robinson added.

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