851.00/8–3149: Telegram

The Ambassador in France (Bruce) to the Secretary of State


3587. Devinat, Secretary State Presidency Council and Prime Minister’s close adviser and confidant, paints following picture situation Queuille and Government at present juncture. Sterling crisis has upset Queuille’s ideal timetable which called for stabilization franc in autumn and his own subsequent retirement from public office. Period financial and political uncertainty involving monetary readjustments and possible British general elections now stretched beyond foreseeable future maintaining, if not intensifying during period, all inflationary, social and political pressures which it had been Queuille’s program to contain or harmonize by end this year. Disappearance beyond horizon of “better times” which Deputies reluctantly supporting sacrifices in Queuille program had expected or promised their constituents, would certainly increase coalition discord and opposition appetites. Queuille, however, had no intention trim his sails to this ill wind and was resolutely going ahead in accordance with his announced principles and face Assembly in October with [Page 652] “stillest” budget yet and additional taxes. He was likewise determined to give not an inch on prices and anticipated being target highly disagreeable crossfire between management and labor on wage-price issue.

Result Queuille’s best efforts at home would be largely dependent international situation which in turn depended only partly on France. Devinat said frankly that considerable anxiety existed in minds his fellow cabinet members regarding “serious-mindedness” of UK. As her difficulties increased, French noticed growing selfishness and irresponsibility in British actions and with due allowance for instinctive reflex of self-preservation to be expected of country so disagreeably situated, French were counting more and more on restraining influence of US. Devinat pointed particularly at “British torpedoing of Council of Europe and OEEC” and reflected French fears that in addition to cost to continent of British standoffishness, there might be added further continental sacrifices to keep Britain afloat as a separate unit.

According Devinat, Queuille and Schuman argued strongly in recent cabinet meetings for official French attitude of detachment and benevolent neutrality in present sterling crisis, but feeling prevailed that issue was largely one of UK versus Continent with US as arbiter.

Sent Department 3587, repeated London 600.