Think Progress [emphasis in original]:
This week, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that he would reduce British presence in Iraq from 5,500 troops to 4,500 by Christmas. The Guardian reports today that Brown will cut “significantly more than the 1,000 announced yesterday” by next year.
In response to the withdrawal announcement, the White House has decided to slander Britain. The Daily Telegraph reports today that a senior White House official has revoked Britain’s status of being “the closest Bush ally":“There’s concern about Brown,” a senior White House foreign policy official told The Daily Telegraph. “But this is compensated by the fact that Paris and Berlin are much less of a headache. The need to hinge everything on London as the guarantor of European security has gone.”
The White House official added that Britain would always be “the cornerstone” of US policy towards Europe but there was “a lot of unhappiness” about how British forces had performed in Basra and an acceptance that Mr Brown would pull the remaining 4,500 troops out of Iraq next year.
“Operationally, British forces have performed poorly in Basra,” said the official. “Maybe it’s best that they leave. Now we will have a clear field in southern Iraq.”
How about that. And only seven months ago, Dick Cheney was saying that the Brits' departure from Iraq was a good sign:
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's announcement that British troops will begin withdrawing from Iraq would appear to be bad news for the Bush administration.
Blair said today that Britain will cut its forces in Iraq to 5,500 by summer, down from 7,100 currently. And additional cuts to as few as 5,000 British troops in Iraq are possible by the end of summer, Blair said.
But in an exclusive interview with ABC News, Vice President Dick Cheney said the move was actually good news and a sign of progress in Iraq.
"Well, I look at it and see it is actually an affirmation that there are parts of Iraq where things are going pretty well," Cheney told ABC News' Jonathan Karl.
"In fact, I talked to a friend just the other day who had driven to Baghdad down to Basra, seven hours, found the situation dramatically improved from a year or so ago, sort of validated the British view they had made progress in southern Iraq and that they can therefore reduce their force levels," Cheney said.
Tony Blair isn't Prime Minister anymore, though. And apparently Gordon Brown has no wish to sit on George W. Bush's lap and lick his face:
A British diplomatic source elaborated on Bush’s new distance from Britain. “In the White House there’s a sense of enormous change from Blair. They used to be on the phone to Blair all the time and that’s no longer the case because Brown clearly wants to be the unBlair,” the source said.