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How much is Romney backed in Britain?

Most of the British public and political class – including many Tories – prefer President Obama to his Republican challenger, but Mitt Romney is not without fans among the British government.

By Correspondent / October 11, 2012

In this photo from July 26, 2012, Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney meets with British Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street in London. Despite a much criticized trip to London this summer, Mr. Romney has supporters among the British public and political class.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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London

A visiting Mitt Romney stirred up a storm here last summer when he expressed concerns over Britain's readiness to host the Olympics – prompting a backlash that included a rebuke from Prime Minister David Cameron. So one would be excused for thinking that the Republican presidential candidate is without cheerleaders in the UK.

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But they do exist.

They’re fairly small in number in comparison with those getting behind President Obama, whose reelection is favored by more than 70 percent of Britons and whose admirers include not just the left but many in the Conservative Party itself. 

The Romney camp in the UK include the expat Republicans who will be cheering just as loudly as those at home when they gather next Wednesday to watch the second presidential debate at the offices of a law firm in London’s upmarket Saville Row. Others include Mr. Romney’s recently uncovered "long lost" cousins in England’s northwest, where his ancestors lived for generations and converted to Mormonism before leaving for the United States in 1841.

But despite Mr. Cameron’s closeness to President Obama, passionate support remains for Romney among potentially influential sections of the British right, who are currently pressing for a deeper, sharper approach to British deficit reduction. To them, a Romney win would be a vindication of Conservative economic policy, as opposed to the Obama interventionism so often held up as a shining example by British advocates of a Keynesian approach to restoring growth.

Daniel Hannan, a Conservative member of the European Parliament and an articulate standard-bearer on his own party’s right wing, says he was rooting for Obama last time – but that two things have changed.

“For one, the US debt level is not just a domestic problem. It’s a global problem when the leading economy in the free world is $16 trillion in debt and is adding to that yearly... [it] threatens a shift in power globally. Now, I don’t know if Mitt Romney is going to get on top of the deficit but I know, as everyone else does, that Obama isn’t.”

“The other is that from a purely an Anglosphere point of view, Romney is much better disposed to the other English-speaking democracies than Obama,” adds Mr. Hannan, who argues that British support for Obama has not been reciprocated until recently.

He lists evidence such as the symbolism of Obama receiving from the last prime minister, Gordon Brown, an ornamental pen-holder made with the timbers of a Victorian anti-slave ship and responding with a box set of DVDs “including Die Hard 3, but not Die Hard 1 or 2.” 

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