WikiLeaks set to reveal what US really thinks of David Cameron

Website to release three million embassy cables, many of them distinctly undiplomatic

David Cameron was bracing himself for the humiliation of public criticism from the Obama administration last night, as whistleblowers prepared to publish millions of classified cables between Washington and US embassies around the world.

Almost three million confidential files detailing the US government's private views on hundreds of allies and rival states are expected to be released by the website WikiLeaks this week. The White House has sent ambassadors on official missions to dozens of allies to prepare them for any damage that the cables could wreak on their relationship with the US.

Louis Susman, the American ambassador to London, met officials in Downing Street on Friday to warn them what to expect when WikiLeaks finally begins publishing details of the communications. He did not speak to Mr Cameron directly.

The Independent on Sunday understands that State Department correspondence between London and Washington covers a catalogue of sensitive diplomatic issues, including the release of the Lockerbie bomber, Britain's contribution to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Conservatives' position on the economy before the election.

Two years ago, it was claimed that President Obama referred to Mr Cameron as a "lightweight" after he had met the then-opposition leader in London.

It is believed that some of the embassy cables echo the criticism of the Tories' stance in opposition, questioning their approach to the credit crunch, including their opposition to Gordon Brown's decision to bail out banks with taxpayers' money.

Government sources confirmed last night that the sensitive cables, covering the 18 months between January 2009 and June this year, also offered candid assessments of Mr Brown, his premiership and his chances of winning the election. Downing Street was confident that the revelations would not damage the Prime Minister's reputation – or the "special relationship" between the UK and the US. One source said the files, which had been expected yesterday, would be "far more embarrassing" to members of the former Labour government. He added: "There are quite a lot of references to Gordon Brown being perceived as weak and unstable."

A number of senior ministers said the Cabinet had not been warned of any damaging revelations expected to emerge in the coming days.

But even a hint of disapproval, particularly over economic policy, would be a dangerous development for a coalition Government still in the process of establishing itself at home and abroad. The Conservatives have condemned Labour over its handling over the economy under Mr Brown, but any criticism from the UK's closest ally would be seized upon by opponents. The Obama administration is understood to have had concerns over Mr Cameron's position on taxation, the Iraq war, and his "neo-conservative" allies.

David Rothkopf, a foreign policy analyst in Washington and critic of Mr Cameron, when asked if it was true that Mr Obama had a low opinion of the Prime Minister, said: "I think you have it about right as far as views go. Initial reaction to Cameron was dubious, although there has been some adjustment of late in a more positive direction. I know the White House is in an absolute swivet over this, as is the State Department. There could be very rough days ahead."

Ambassadors regularly send back observations of political events in their host countries, summarising developments and opinions. However, it is their more candid dispatches, giving their own views of individual figures, organisations and controversies, which present the greatest danger of embarrassment.

The cables between London and Washington are expected to detail views on broad themes including the economic crisis, defence and foreign policy. There will also be "quite interesting commentary" on Nelson Mandela, Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai.

Diplomatic sources said the most damaging comments are likely to come in telegrams sent before meetings, which are likely to include personal remarks on temperament, electoral prospects and personality.

WikiLeaks has said the publication of cables would be seven times the size of its controversial release of 400,000 documents relating to the war in Iraq last month. Washington maintains that it has known for some time that WikiLeaks had the information, but it has not taken action to prevent the publication – or to prosecute anyone for passing the cables to the website.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent