Byline: PETER RIDDELL
TONY Blair has no second thoughts, doubts or reservations. He will not hear any criticism of George W Bush, in either public or private. I have often heard Blair say about Bush: "He has always been straightforward and open with me." So the President will be a welcome guest to London this week.
Blair brushes aside the political and diplomatic costs of his close alliance with Bush over Iraq as if they do not exist, even though they threaten his European strategy, as well as being unpopular.
Blair's determination to stick by Bush is not just courtesy. It is also a deep-seated political strategy. Well before Bush became President, Blair had adopted what one of his closest advisers calls the "hug them close" approach, or what critics like Robin Cook have dubbed a Faustian bargain. In return for public support, and above all the absence of public criticism, Blair has the ear of the President.
Bush has been …