852.01/446: Telegram

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

224. The Government here is now giving close attention to the question of recognition of General Franco. The Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whom I saw this afternoon, said that although no final decision has yet been reached, their present view is that recognition: (1) should be given quickly, and (2) should not be contingent upon conditions of performance on the part of General Franco. According to all their information there is little doubt that Franco is rapidly approaching the point of effective control of the whole country. It is on this question of fact that the act of recognition would be based and that act is something apart from any question of Franco’s subsequent policies. No useful purpose would be served in delaying this recognition. Moreover, the Under Secretary is of the opinion that his Government would be in a position to exert greater influence over General Franco and his future policy after recognition had been unequivocally granted and an accredited British representative sent to him than if such recognition were delayed in the hope of fulfillment of certain prior and desirable conditions. In the light of these views, [Page 745] the Under Secretary said, it is expected that the Cabinet at its meeting tomorrow will examine the whole situation and probably will either authorize the immediate recognition of General Franco or will authorize the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to effect that recognition, without further reference, at such moment as they may consider most suitable.

According to the Under Secretary, there is, however, a complication. About a week ago Messrs. Negrin and Del Vayo in French territory, communicated to Mr. Stevenson, the British representative formerly at Barcelona, a statement of certain conditions on which the Government would capitulate to General Franco. These conditions were that (1) all foreign troops should be immediately evacuated from Spain, (2) a popular government should be set up acceptable to the country, and (3) there should be no reprisals. These propositions have been discussed here by the Foreign Office with the Spanish Ambassador, Mr. Azcarate. The latter, although apparently without instructions in the matter, has explained that his Government does not mean by a popular government that they necessarily demand a plebiscite but that the Government should be broadly based and acceptable to the majority of Spaniards. With reference to point 3 it has been pointed out to Ambassador Azcarate that the Spanish Government could hardly expect General Franco not to take some action against individuals which might be included in the term “reprisals”. Azcarate explained that they would not expect that individuals who had committed criminal infractions of the penal code should go unpunished, but what they demand is a commitment that there will be no purely political reprisals on former opponents of General Franco. These propositions were sent day before yesterday at the request of the Spanish Government to the British representative at Burgos with a view to obtaining informally the reaction of Franco. A reply has not yet been received. The Spanish Ambassador here has moreover made the request that the British use their good offices towards inducing General Franco to negotiate a settlement with the present Government authorities rather than demand a complete and unconditional surrender. The Under Secretary of State says that this puts them in somewhat of a dilemma as they do not yet visualize what may be done usefully in this connection. He does not know what decision the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary may reach on this point. The Spanish Ambassador’s request may however slightly delay British action on recognition. I gather that British policy in these matters is being closely concerted with the French Government.