News24

UK 'paranoia' over links to US exposed

2010-12-04 14:33

London - US officials privately mocked the attitude of senior members of then opposition leader David Cameron's party who vowed to run a pro-US regime if they won this year's election, in leaked cables on Saturday.

Conservative party politicians also lined up to pledge that they would buy more arms from the US if they came to power, the US embassy cables released by the WikiLeaks website and published in The Guardian show.

In meetings held before Cameron came to power in May's election, some US diplomats were amused by what they call Britain's "paranoid" fears about the so-called special relationship between the two countries.

One said the anxious British attitude "would often be humorous if it were not so corrosive" and suggested it would be possible to take advantage of this neurosis to "make London more willing to respond favourably when pressed for assistance".

Liam Fox, now defence minister, promised to buy US military equipment, while the current foreign minister, William Hague, offered the US ambassador to London a "pro-American" government.

Hague told an official the entire Conservative leadership were, like him, "staunchly Atlanticist" and "children of Thatcher", in a reference to former Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Fox met Ambassador Louis Susman a year ago. In a cable marked "confidential", Susman recorded: "Liam Fox affirmed his desire to work closely with the US if the Conservative party wins power - adding that 'we (Conservatives) intend to follow a much more pro-American profile in procurement'" than the then Labour government of Gordon Brown.

He reportedly went on: "Increasing US-UK 'interoperability is the key' since the US and UK will continue to fight together in the future" and "expressed confidence regarding US leadership in Afghanistan and optimism about the way forward".

In a meeting with another US official, Hague is said to have stated "whoever enters 10 Downing Street as prime minister soon learns of the essential nature of the relationship with America... 'We want a pro-American regime. We need it. The world needs it'".

Other US cables released by WikiLeaks earlier this week revealed disappointment at British forces' performance in the violence-torn Helmand province of Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday tried to reassure Britain over its role in Afghanistan, saying she wanted to express her "deep respect and admiration for the extraordinary efforts" made by British forces.

Speaking at a security conference in Bahrain, Clinton said she wanted to express "our regret if anything that was said by anyone suggests to the contrary".