Britons Bristle At American Attacks On BP BP had been under pressure from Washington to suspend its second-quarter dividend and use the funds to intensify cleanup operations in the Gulf. But many Britons have taken umbrage at some U.S. criticism of BP, saying that the tone has become distinctly anti-British.
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Britons Bristle At American Attacks On BP

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Britons Bristle At American Attacks On BP

Britons Bristle At American Attacks On BP

Britons Bristle At American Attacks On BP

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Many in Britain believe attacks by President Obama and others on BP have been designed to draw the focus away from his administration and to BP and its British CEO, Tony Hayward. Britons are taking offense at what they say is the anti-British tone of the rhetoric. Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Many in Britain believe attacks by President Obama and others on BP have been designed to draw the focus away from his administration and to BP and its British CEO, Tony Hayward. Britons are taking offense at what they say is the anti-British tone of the rhetoric.

Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

NPR's Rob Gifford reports from London.

ROB GIFFORD: One of Britain's top business leaders, John Napier, has written an open letter to President Obama to complain.

M: The language and rhetoric of this dispute is going to the danger zone, it was becoming too highly personalized. The interpretation over here, not just by me but others, is that it has a certain anti-British rhetoric to it and that has to be of concern.

GIFFORD: Simon Boxall works at Britain's National Oceanography Center.

GIFFORD: This well is actually owned and operated by and American company, Transocean. The operations going on at the time when the incident happened and Halliburton was an American come, and the blowout preventer that failed was American, as well. And don't forget, this oil is for the domestic U.S. market.

GIFFORD: Other commentators and bloggers have picked up on that point. You want the oil, America, asked one? You clean up the mess.

GIFFORD: The mood was heightened further by suggestions from Washington that BP should suspend its dividend to shareholders; some news outlets here say that will be announced next week. Since major British and some U.S. pension funds are heavily invested in BP, politicians such as the Labour Party's Tom Watson haven't taken kindly to the suggestion.

M: Prime Minister David Cameron is in Afghanistan to show solidarity with our American allies for the work we're doing over there. I hope that he demands that solidarity back for British pensioners and U.S. pensioners.

GIFFORD: Not everyone here is up in arms though about the rhetoric from Washington. Michael Howard is the former leader of the British Conservative Party.

M: We need to bear in mind - we on this side of the Atlantic - just what we would feel like if an American company had been responsible for the biggest oil spill in our history, and had admitted that there were shortcomings in the way in which it had planned its operations, as BP pretty well has, I think we would be pretty cross with that American company.

GIFFORD: Rob Gifford, NPR News, London.

Shares in BP rose Friday on the London Stock Exchange, despite reports that the company will suspend its second-quarter dividend. BP had been under pressure from the Obama administration to make such a move and use the funds to intensify cleanup operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

But many people in Britain have bristled at some of President Obama's attacks on BP, saying that the tone from Washington has become distinctly anti-British.

Correction June 11, 2010

In a previous Web version of this story, a reference was made to the company Transocean being American. Transocean is registered in Switzerland.