How important is being the first leader to see him?
By all accounts Brown Central is placing a lot on the relationship between their man and President Obama. The news that the race to have first phone conversation with between a European leader and Obama was won by Brown was highlighted over the weekend.
Next comes the question of which of the big three – Sarkozy, Merkel or Brown – gets the first meeting. There have been reports that Brown might be seeing the new President at the White House at the end of the month.
Meanwhile Sarkozy has been active. He’s had his first phone conversation and it went on for twice as long as the one with Brown. In it he’s said to have suggested that France could help with the GuantÃ¡namo Bay prisoners which seems quite a smart ploy.
Sarkozy also has a massive issue where Obama could be particularly helpful – the return of France to Nato. This clearly is in the US interest and being seen with the new President would go some way to dealing with Sarkozy’s domestic problems on the issue.
The real danger for Brown in all of this is that the media could portray what happens as being unseemly. Number 10 has to play this with great care or else it could end up as a negative.
The last thing that Brown wants is for his desire to be associated with Obama to come out something like the Dawn Butler letter that we discussed last week.