MI6 is helping to prepare a UK Government dossier on the national security implications of Donald Trump returning to power in the US, i can reveal.
Security officials are working with the Foreign Office on a report reviewing the potential impact of Mr Trump becoming president for a second time if he wins the autumn US election, a serving intelligence source told i.
Analysts from MI6, the UK’s foreign intelligence agency, are assessing the impact of a Trump presidency on national security and international diplomacy. The work is part of a wider dossier being put together and led by the Foreign Office, first revealed by i last month.
“There is a report prepared by a dedicated desk of [MI6] analysts who would have looked at Trump’s probability of winning and they have gamed out scenarios if that were to happen,” the intelligence source told i. “This is an intelligence report listing the impacts to national security at home and abroad, including the UK’s relationship with the US as well as the impact to ongoing conflicts in Europe and the Middle East.”
While Foreign Office staff use “formal routes” to gather information, MI6 will be using “more secretive methods” to glean information about an incumbent Trump administration’s plan overseas, according to a second source, who is a former MI6 field officer.
Mr Trump remains the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in November’s US election despite him facing 91 criminal charges including allegations of attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election, election interference, falsifying business records, and mishandling classified records after leaving office.
Five serving and former intelligence officers with experience working for MI6 said the dossier was “bread and butter” work in order to plan and prepare for incumbent leaders. They said it was commonplace for the intelligence services and the Foreign Office to work together to look at the impact of transitioning governments, especially those of the UK’s allies.
A serving US security source told i he “can’t blame” the UK for looking at the impacts of a Trump government, and that “any good intelligence agency” would be doing so. They said intelligence officers on both sides of the Atlantic would work hard to maintain an open and cooperative relationship no matter who won the upcoming election.
It is understood that the intelligence report from MI6 will be cleared and sent to officials in the Foreign Office who are compiling the dossier. It will include a list of recommendations for the government to best prepare for a second Trump presidency.
The MI6 analysis is looking at key geopolitical issues, including US involvement in NATO, and the military and economic support for Ukraine’s fight against Russian invasion, the serving UK intelligence source added.
“To the UK Biden is a known entity, but Trump presents a wildcard both domestically and internationally and the UK should be looking at the impact if he were to win the election,” the US intelligence source said. “A Trump presidency means NATO is on the table, Ukraine support is on the table and UK intelligence will be preparing for a number of outcomes.
“As with any new foreign leader there are major implications for national security, especially when it involves your closest international ally.”
He added that whatever the outcome of the upcoming US election, the intelligence sharing and cooperation between the UK and US would not be damaged as both parties would “work to maintain a good and strong intelligence sharing relationship.”
The source said: “We are vital allies to one another and while politics may change, the officers and analysts don’t, and the need for the continuation of open cooperation on issues abroad will be key.”
The revelations come weeks after i first revealed the existence of the UK Government’s dossier into a second Trump term.
The Foreign Office is taking the lead on the work of drawing up intelligence on how a second Trump presidency could affect Britain across a range of areas.
Britain’s ambassador to Washington, Dame Karen Pierce, is understood to be a key figure, along with the UK envoys to Nato and the United Nations. “Karen will be doing a lot of feeding through of intelligence on what she is picking up,” a source previously told i.
With the US elections coming later this year, Mr Trump has emerged as the Republican party’s frontrunner – though lawsuits in several states seek to have him disqualified from the presidency for his role in the storm of Capitol Hill on 6 January 2021.
Three former intelligence officers told i that analysts at MI6 would be hard at work to try and get ahead of the “malign impact” of a second Trump presidency.
A former intelligence officer who now works within a Government department told i that many in the civil service were urging for such a report “some time ago when the prospect of his return was just a realistic possibility rather than what now seems like a reasonable probability.”
The ex-MI6 field officer said that the intelligence services are figuring out “where the global chess pieces” will be moved under Mr Trump and using various techniques to glean insight into his geopolitical plans.
“They will be speaking to middle ranking republicans and getting their thoughts,” they told i. “They are trying to get a picture of what an incoming government will do and there will be normal avenues which will be explored through the Foreign Office and diplomats, and the more shadowy side where MI6 will be chatting to people to glean info out.”
Last month, three senior ex-diplomats urged the Government to protect the UK from “massive” security risks if Mr Trump is elected US president in November.
Two ex-Washington ambassadors and a former diplomatic chief previously told i that preparations must be drawn up to help the UK cope if Mr Trump were to end US support for Ukraine and withdraw from Nato.
Simon McDonald, head of the Foreign Office until 2020, said the UK should be looking at “the implications of a second Trump presidency, which are massive”.
Sir Mark Lyall Grant, a former senior British diplomat who was previously the United Kingdom’s National Security Adviser and Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations, told i that such preparation for an incumbent president is “normal process”.
Sir Mark was the UK’s national security advisor during the first Trump election and his inauguration as US president in 2017. He said that the Cabinet office, along with intelligence officials, was doing similar work at that time.
“We were looking at the implications if Trump were to win, and what posture we would take on various different policy issues.” he told i. “In that sense this process is a normal one.”
Sir Mark revealed that after looking at potential impacts, the UK government contacted the Trump administration to try and influence policies they believe he was drawing up on NATO and Iran, using the period before the inauguration to do so.
“Last time we had some contacts with the Trump team in advance of the inauguration,” he said. “We had the opportunity also to feed in our own views on the top issues of the day in an attempt to influence their thinking as they were finalising their policy.”
He added: “I assume that that would be the case again, because that is sort of normal practice.”