LONDON — The "special relationship" is not so special any more.
That's the word from a committee of lawmakers in Britain who say the phrase coined by Winston Churchill to describe the country's close ties with the United States should no longer be used because it fails to reflect a true picture of relations between the two countries.
Parliament's Foreign Affairs Select Committee said the government should be "less deferential" toward the Americans and take a more realistic view of the relationship. In a report published Sunday, the committee said that, while ties with America remain close, it is important to recognize that Britain is just one of many countries with important U.S. links.
"The overuse of the phrase by some politicians and many in the media serves simultaneously to devalue its meaning and to raise unrealistic expectations about the benefits the relationship can deliver to the U.K.," the committee said in its report.
Churchill used the phrase shortly after World War II to describe the shared cultural, political and historic ties that helped defeat Nazi Germany, and the fears of the looming Cold War.
But in recent years, the timeworn expression has often been derided – suggesting that Britain was subservient to the United States. That was particularly the case in what was seen as Britain's unquestioning support of former President George W. Bush during the Iraq war.
"The perception that the British government was a subservient 'poodle' to the U.S. administration leading up to the period of the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath is widespread both among the British public and overseas," the report said. "This perception, whatever its relation to reality, is deeply damaging to the reputation and interests of the U.K."
The committee suggested Britain should be more pragmatic in U.K.-U.S. relations, and accept it may not enjoy the same sway on Washington as in the past.
"Over the longer-term, the U.K. is unlikely to be able to influence the U.S. to the extent it has in the past," said the committee chairman, lawmaker Mike Gapes.