765.84/4678: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Atherton) to the Secretary of State

315. Following is a brief résumé of Eden’s speech74 just completed of which I understand the American press is cabling fully: his five [Page 159]points were: (1) a continuation of sanctions no longer would serve the purpose for which they were intended; (2) pending the aftermath of the abolition of sanctions England would maintain those assurances to Mediterranean powers which she gave last December;75 (3) England was already studying those measures for consideration of the League Assembly in September which in the light of past experience would implement the purposes for which the League was founded; (4) Eden reviewed the German situation and made an urgent appeal for Germany to constructively reply at an early date to the British questionnaire of May 6th;76 (5) in effect he warned the members not to be blind to the menace of Germany by the emphasis they put on the immediate Italian situation (see my 300, June 8, 1 p.m.77).

The House, which was in a highly skeptical mood at the beginning of his speech, eventually settled down and apart from the extreme labor elements seemed disposed to consider seriously the arguments advanced.

I understand from an official of the Labor Party that the Prime Minister approached the labor leaders in an attempt to achieve a united policy respecting the abolition of sanctions. This came to nothing because of labor’s conditions that such abolition must be accompanied by Great Britain’s advocacy of the expulsion of Italy from the League, with an undertaking by the states members to refrain from giving credit facilities to Italy. A similar attempt has been made over a period of time to create a common front on rearmament but the Labor Party has been unwilling to agree unless the Government came out publicly for a policy indicating that some rearmament was in effect against Germany and that in cooperation with the French and Soviets, it would regard any violation of the territory of the states surrounding Germany as a casus belli.

Incidentally, when the Naval Attaché paid his courtesy visit upon the new First Lord of the Admiralty today Sir Samuel Hoare stated that he might tell his people “not to get it into their heads that we have any intention of weakening our position in the Mediterranean for that is not correct; in fact we intend to strengthen our position there”.

Atherton
  1. See House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, vol. 313, 5th Series, p. 1204.
  2. See footnote 49, p. 141.
  3. See British Cmd. 5175, Miscellaneous No. 6 (1936): Correspondence with German Government regarding the German Proposals for an European Settlement March 24–May 6, 1936, p. 12.
  4. Not printed.