Britain's 'special relationship' - with Europe, so says America

The American official couldn't have been clearer.

He used the phrase 'special relationship' just once to describe Britain's tie with the United States, but the relationship he focused on repeatedly was Britain's place in the European Union.

Philip Gordon is America's 'point man' on Europe.

He's on a visit here and used his time to spell out what he thought of the push by some in the Conservative party, and outside, to loosen Britain's ties with the EU.

Philip Gordon, the US assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs Credit: REUTERS/Andreas Manolis

America has been "following this issue very closely..for some time”, he said.

"We value a strong European Union and we also value a strong UK voice within the European Union; a voice that is essential and critical for the United States".

Critical. It's not often US officials use that word about Europe.

Any referendum on the EU in Britain would turn it "inward".

"We're not in the business of telling countries what to do with Foreign Policy", he said.

But if there is a referendum, expect Washington to make its point clearly, behind the scenes to business and political leaders about Britain's importance at the heart of - or at least in the same room as - Europe's leaders.

David Cameron shakes hand with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a news conference in Berlin Credit: REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz

Gordon also claimed that a united Europe has "increasing weight in the world" and is becoming more important for the US.

And again, time after time, he insisted that Britain's role and voice within the EU, is in America's national interest.

Asked directly if Britain left the EU, would America listen to it less and value it less, he repeated his line; Britain's voice should be inside, not outside the Union.

Not that Gordon, or the US, has any time for the EU's navel gazing.

"The more the EU is focused on its internal debates", he said, "the less it's able to be our unified partner abroad. It's best when leaders can focus on common challenges abroad".

David Cameron has faced for a referendum on Europe Credit: Reuters

His comments come as David Cameron fine tunes a long-awaited speech on Britain's ties with Europe amid mounting calls within his party and across the country for a referendum on EU membership.

America has made its point. When it rings Britain it wants a good connection with Europe.