Monday, January 15, 2007

The unspeakable in pursuit of the unthinkable

France wanted to join UK

Formerly secret documents have revealed that Britain and France considered a "union" in the 1950s.

French Prime Minister Guy Mollet put the idea to his British counterpart, Anthony Eden, in 1956. And, when his proposal was rebuffed, he asked if France could join the British Commonwealth.

Documents held in Britain's National Archives, which have lain virtually unnoticed since being released two decades ago, reveal Mollet's extraordinary proposals.

They read: "When the French Prime Minister, Monsieur Mollet was recently in London he raised with the prime minister the possibility of a union between the United Kingdom and France."

Mollet was an Anglophile who admired Britain both for its help in two world wars and its welfare state.

He also wanted British support against Egypt's President Nasser who had nationalised the Suez Canal and was funding separatists in French Algeria.

Eden turned down his request for a union - but was surprisingly enthusiastic about France joining the Commonwealth.

He told Cabinet Secretary, Sir Norman Brook, that "Monsieur Mollet had not thought there need be difficulty over France accepting the headship of her Majesty".

Henri Soutou, professor of contemporary history at Paris's Sorbonne University, said:

"Really I am stuttering because this idea is so preposterous. The idea of joining the Commonwealth and accepting the headship of Her Majesty would not have gone down well. If this had been suggested more recently Mollet might have found himself in court."

Vous devriez être si chanceux, monsieur.


Peter Burnet said...

It just took them a while to say yes to the Great Man's invitation.

Churchill tried everything to keep France in the war, at least formally, including getting them to carry on the fight from French North africa, and even offering to form a union between Britain and France with a combined cabinet and a combined parliament, a united country-half occupied- that would stay in the war. But it was not to be. The French no longer had much fight in them. Turning their backs on Churchill and Great Britain, they turned to Marshall Petain and the surrender that haunts them to this day.

Anonymous said...

"Monsieur Mollet had not thought there need be difficulty over France accepting the headship of her Majesty".

In a basket, I presume.

Brit said...

Heh heh.