Not even the ‘special relationship’ was enough to calm a nervy Britain about what Donald Trump could do next just after becoming president. Official emails show the UK government planned to set up an internal warning system to monitor orders issued by Trump.
Most of the emails – released to the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act – were between the British Embassy in Washington and the Foreign Office around the time of Trump’s executive order halting all refugee admissions and temporarily banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
On January 30, Kara Owen, director of the Americas desk at the Foreign Office, sent an email around the Foreign Office and to Deputy British Ambassador to the US Patrick Davies asking for a new warning system to be set up to look at the impact of Trump’s executive orders on British interests.
“Many of these orders will no doubt be issued just as London is going to sleep,” she said. “I would like to establish a system for assessing impact of the orders on U.K. interests (if any) and offering quick advice on what to do about it to the right readership (including senior readers in FCO and Whitehall, press and private offices).”
She added: “I would welcome any other predictions about EOs [executive orders] foreshadowed during the campaign and likely to touch on our interests – he is doing a lot of what he said he would.”
The emails also reveal concerns about the impact of Trump’s travel ban on UK citizens with dual nationality, and national security. “BE [British Embassy] Washington have been trying to get clarity from the State [The State Department] without luck so far,” an email dated January 28, the day after Trump signed the order, reads.
“If true, this would obviously mean thousands of dual nationals with British passports being banned from travelling to US. Not great after the PM visit.”
In another email on the same day said: “The dual nationals angle will of course be really difficult for us. I’ll come back to you when I have more on our response.”
The documents reveal the EU contacted the Foreign Office to check whether Britain was attempting to get a special deal for its citizens in the aftermath of Trump’s travel ban. They also show civil servants expected a change in Prime Minister Theresa May’s friendly outlook towards Trump should British citizens be banned from entering the US.