[The following is an excerpt from an article in today's edition of The Guardian:]
Lord Jones, a government trade ambassador and former trade minister, has accused David Cameron of failing to stand up for Britain after the prime minister said he understood the US government's frustration over the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster.
BP's shares tumbled almost 7% to a 13-year low on fears that the US department of justice could block the company's dividend due next month.
Speaking to the Guardian, Jones said Cameron should have been more forthright in defending British interests, particularly pension funds, since BP's dividend traditionally makes up more than a 10th of all payouts by UK companies.
"This is not about trying to come to BP's defence but for the US to understand there are more people to blame," he said. "Pension fund beneficiaries will be saying 'Are you standing up for us Mr Cameron?' It's not 'We are hoping for a favour for BP' but '[Are you] standing up for Britain?'" (...)
BP has traditionally had a close relationship with the government. Last year it emerged that ministers had supported the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, following lobbying by BP which was concerned a £500m oil deal with the Libyan government was at risk.
Cameron's refusal to defend BP contrasts with calls from British business leaders and London's mayor Boris Johnson for the White House to tone down its attacks. Johnson accused President Obama's government of "anti-British rhetoric", warning that the near 50% slump in BP's share price since the spill was bad news for UK pensioners.