Great Britain

Midnight sherry origin of UK-US Special Relationship revisited after Biden Brexit boost

VE Day: Britons pay tribute to World War 2 heroes

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the first intelligence sharing pact signed between the two allies. The signals intelligence agreement, originally dubbed as BRUSA, was signed by Winston Churchill in Washington on March 5, 1946. It was the culmination of meetings that started in 1941 between British and American intelligence officers and helped pave the way for an ever closer and profitable transatlantic partnership.

The story is being revisited as US President Joe Biden dropped a 25 percent tariff on Scotch whisky.

Commentators say this may be a sign that he "realises we are more of a friend than the EU".

The US has also lifted tariffs on British cheese, machinery and cashmere though restrictions on EU products remain in place.

A 25 percent tax on all Scotch whisky exports to America was imposed during an escalating trade dispute between the US and EU - while Britain was still a member.

The levies have been suspended for four months as the US and UK seek a long-term solution.

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The signals intelligence agreement was signed by Winston Churchill in Washington on March 5 1946. (Image: Getty)

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The Colossus Computer that helped decode cypher during WW2 (Image: Getty)

The Special Relationship took off after a visit by US cryptologists to Bletchley Park in February 1941.

The four Americans, Abraham Sinkov and Leo Rosen from the US Army, along with Prescott Currier and Robert Weeks of the US Navy, had endured an arduous journey from the US, narrowly surviving an attack by two German dive bombers.

Late in the evening on February 8, they arrived at Bletchley Park for a top secret meeting with Commander Alastair Denniston.

The Commander was Head of the Government Code and Cypher School, the forerunner to today's GCHQ.

In a diary entry, Commander Deniston noted: "The Ys are coming!", in reference to the Americans.

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Reunion of veterans at Bletchley Park on September 3 2017 (Image: Getty)

He informed his assistant Barbara Abernethy of the late night visit he was expecting and gave her some very specific orders.

He said: “There are going to be four Americans who are coming to see me at 12 o’clock tonight.

“I require you to come in with the sherry.

"You are not to tell anybody who they are or what they will be doing.”

The visit had been months in the planning and marked a moment of trust between the UK and US.

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The Bombe code-breaking machine, 1943. (Image: Getty)

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Alan Turing 50 GBP bank note (Image: Getty)

It took place exactly 10 months before the US entered the Second World War.

The US cryptologists spent a month in the UK and shared their work on Japanese codes.

In return the UK exchanged information on the Bombe machines, that had been invented by the brilliant mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing.

The machines allowed British intelligence to break into German Enigma messages.

Over the next t few years , an intelligence alliance flourished between the two allies, culminating in the formal agreement of March 1946.

To mark the 75th anniversary of that event, GCHQ Director, Jeremy Fleming, and the head of the US National Security Agency, General Paul Nakasone issued a statement, saying: “This year, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the formal partnership between the UK GCHQ and the US National Security Agency.

“This alliance defines how we share communication, translation, analysis, and code breaking information, and has helped protect our countries and allies for decades.

“The modern digital world is constantly evolving. Threats don’t respect international borders.

"Global partnerships are key to our security and economic prosperity – and none more so than the one between our two countries.”

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