Washington believes that the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and the US is over, according to a secret memo seen by The Mail.
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The memo for members of Congress states damningly that ‘the UK may not be viewed as centrally relevant to the United States in all of the issues and relations considered a priority on the US agenda’.
Dated April 2015 and drawn up to brief the Senate and House of Representatives on the impact of Britain’s General Election, the memo also warns that the UK faces turmoil if there is a hung parliament.
The document – prepared by the Congressional Research Service, an in-house intelligence body that gives confidential analysis to legislators – states that while Britain and the US are likely to ‘remain key economic partners’, a ‘reassessment of the special relationship may be in order… because its geopolitical setting has been changing’.
The memo, edited by Derek E Mix, the CRS’s chief European affairs analyst, says that the development of organisations such as the G20 group of major economies has led to a decline in the ‘influence and centrality of the relationship’.
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It also states that the UK’s continued importance to the US will hinge on the future success of the economy – and Chancellor George Osborne’s implementation of spending cuts.
It reads: ‘A significant degree of the UK’s international influence flows from the success and dynamism of the British economy, further raising the stakes on whether the UK can sustain stronger economic growth while continuing to pursue ambitious fiscal consolidation.’
The ‘special relationship’ has been deployed by generations of politicians – most notably Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher – to describe the close political, diplomatic, cultural, economic, military and historical relations between the two countries.
It was first coined in a 1944 speech by Winston Churchill, when he said it was his ‘deepest conviction that unless Britain and the United States are joined in a special relationship… another destructive war will come to pass’.
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Increasingly, however, the relationship has come to be seen as one-sided, with British Prime Ministers more keen to flag up the alliance than US Presidents.
When David Cameron visited the White House in January, he insisted the President had said the special relationship was ‘stronger than it has ever been’.
The memo also expresses concern about a potential UK exit from the EU following an ‘Out’ vote in any referendum, saying: ‘Both the positive and the negative aspects of a prospective life outside the EU are more difficult to foresee.’
Explaining the significance of a hung parliament, the congressional document says it could result in a ‘brief period of ambiguity’ and ‘constitutional uncertainty’.
William Lowther in Washington for The Mail. GreatGameIndia is a journal on Geopolitics and International Relations. Read more on the impact of Anglo-American tensions on India in our exclusive book India in Cognitive Dissonance. Past GreatGameIndia magazine issues can be accessed from the Archives section.