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Lord Halifax becomes Prime Minister. England goes neutral (updated)

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by British-Empire, Feb 26, 2009.

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  1. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    I remember before the war, Churchill quoting Ribbentrops meeting with himself, in which off the cuff remarks were made about the future carve up of areas that may be acceptable to both parties...Chruchill of course was not in a positon to comment for the prime minister of the time. Although he states he did inform him.
     
  2. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

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    Its more confused than that.
    During the period of 24th May till 28th May 1940, when it appeared that the whole of the BEF would be lost, Lord Halifax did argue that it might be worthwhile to find out what Germany's demands would be (using Italy who weren't in the war at that time) with the provision that if they were too severe they could be rejected. However Churchill was able to persuade him that if Britain did go down this path it would be difficult to continue fighting if the demands were indeed too severe, and Halifax accepted this argument and agreed to support the continuation of fighting.

    It should be noted that at no time before or after this period did Lord Halifax ever argue in favour of a peace treaty with Germany, and after this period gave Churchill his full and loyal support. It often argued that sending Lord Halifax to be the British Ambassador in Washington D.C was Churchill getting him 'out of the way', but this fails to take into account the importance Churchill placed in getting US support for the war. Lord Halifax hated war and had little interest in military matters (probably why he considered himself to be an unsuitable candidate for PM in 1940), but he was a very able diplomat, and in this role he did play an important part in winning over US politicians to Britain's cause.

    ps; An excellent book on the discussion in the cabinet during May 1940 is 'Five Days in London, May 1940' by John Lukacs
     
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  3. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Good post Redcoat, I concur with that totally.

    But and theres always a but, its my perception, not fact, but my own perception that Halifax was indeed sent to the States as an out of the way option, not of course out of the way in case he was a threat to war over peace, that had long since passed. But certainly in my own personal view of getting him out of his own way. Judging by the importance of the American support and issues to come, surely in that case it would have been better to send Eden to Washington and Halifax to a lesser outpost of govt. But he could not do this without a slight being evident. The Foreign secretary role had to be replaced to reflect this. Rather than Halifax seen to be demoted in any way. Surely Eden would have been of much better use in those early American days than Halifax? But its my own personal view.
     
  4. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

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    There are lots of claims about contacts made through various channels, but there is no real evidence that any of these contacts ever lead to the British learning what the German 'peace' demands were, mainly because its not clear that Hitler ever gave anybody a detailed set of demands.
     
  5. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

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    Truth told, only Churchill knows the real truth on this matter ;)

    I don't rate Eden that much as a diplomat, he was far to hot-headed for the role
     
  6. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Agreed, but we are in one of the ultimate what ifs...It would be hard for anyone not to look at the characters involved, their previous history and actions, the mood of the people etc and form a judgement. Historians dont like this sort of thing I know. After all the facts are what gets us to where we are today.

    But what ifs exist, we are allowed to speculate as long as the counters on the board are not halfed or doubled or the martians suddenly arrive to save us all.

    What ifs must involve a certain amount of speculation but without going into wild extremes.

    Halifax even if taking the reins of power which I personally dont think was possible with Churchill being the man he was would certainly face a British people not willing or in the mood to listen to any apeasments or talk of peace.

    I do think though but for another what if not this...the best thing old Adolf could have done in June 1940 was to ignore the British as best he could....leave them to the sidelines, no threats, no peace, blockade where possible, but ignore us. That would have affected our people more than threats and peace hopes which galvanised a leadership and a people history knows as slow to anger quick to avenge.

    But on another note has anyone read this one, is it worth my money?

    Five Days in London - May 1940, John Lukacs, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1999.
     
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