Interview with Luke Harding

Luke Harding is the Moscow Bureau Chief for the Guardian newspaper in Britain, told Russia Today how he believes UK policy might change under new Premier Gordon Brown.

Russia Today: The new Prime Minister was the UK's longest serving Chancellor in modern times, holding the post for some 10 years.  But he has always kept a relatively low profile. So who is the real Gordon Brown?

Luke Harding: Well, he has this reputation in Britain for being a kind of control freak, a kind of rather miserable, dour, very Scottish figure. I think what’s interesting, is that recently he has been trying to reinvent himself, he has been smiling more, his hair cuts have got a bit swisher.  And he is trying to show that he is among the people. He has even been turning up to  England football games to sort of demonstrate his patriotism. Whether all this works or not, I don’t know.  

RT: With Gordon Brown in Number 10, what key changes can we expect in both foreign and domestic policy?

L.H.: I think, in foreign policy we will see a cooling, a very minor cooling in relations with Washington. I think Tony Blair has been regarded by almost everybody as sort of George Bush’s poodle since the Iraq war in 2003.  So, I believe that while relations with the Bush Administration will be cordial, they won’t be quite as warm as under Tony Blair. On domestic policy, I think the big change will be in style. I think Gordon Brown will try to give an impression that the era of spin associated with New Labour is buried . But whether he can actually achieve that – we have to wait and see.  

RT: In terms of relations with Russia, it’s no secret that Tony Blair and Putin have not always seen eye to eye. Can we expect any improvement in relations between the UK and Russia under Gordon Brown?  

L.H: No, not at all. I think British-Russia relations are currently a complete disaster. I think there is a total lack of trust on either side. I mean, there are two issues we know about.  On the Russian side, a desire to extradite Boris Berezovsky from London.  And on the British side, a desire to get to the bottom of the Litvinenko case. And until there is movement on these, I don’t see any prospect for a breakthrough.  And, really, I think Russian-British relations will stay in the deep freezer.