11.00 A.M. to about 2.00 P.M.: Cabinet meeting There is a long
Posted on August 2nd, 1914 by admin
11.00 A.M. to about 2.00 P.M.: Cabinet Meeting There is a long and difficult meeting. There is a danger the cabinet will split and the government have to resign.
Grey says he is outraged by the way Germany and Austria have pushed aside all attempts at mediation.
Grey reminds the meeting of the 1912 naval agreement with France. The French fleet is concentrated in the Mediterranean and the British in the Channel and the North Sea. The French coast is open to attack by the German navy. Grey says he could not stay in office if Britain fails to protect the French coast. If Britain is to be neutral he will go.
Samuel says Britain must not go to war for “the sake of our goodwill for France” nor for “the balance of power”. If Britain goes to war, it must be solely for British interests. Britain could go to war “for the protection of the northern coasts of France, which we could not afford to see bombarded by the German fleet and occupied by the German army, or for the maintenance of the independence of Belgium”.
The cabinet eventually agree that Britain will not allow German warships to enter the Channel. The neutralists are starting to divide. Some hopefully believe honouring the consequences of the naval agreement with France will not necessarily involve Britain in war. And, France protects British interests in the Mediterranean. Others see it as tantamount to a declaration of war on Germany.
Grey also confirms that the British Expeditionary Force will not be sent to the Continent if there is war. To some neutralists this means if war does come for Britain it will be only a naval war, and not as costly or terrible as a land war.
The cabinet is very close to a major split but at this point only one minister resigns. They agree to meet later to discuss what to do about Belgium. [More]