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described, suspicions that we had never really been in earnest
about the conversations at all. I thought that if that were the
effect, the result would be disastrous. It would be followed
by an intensification of anti-British feeling in Italy, rising to
a point at which ultimately war between us might become
inevitable. Moreover, 1 was equally convinced that once the
conversations had started we should find good effects of the
new atmosphere in many places, and notably in Spain, where
the chief difficulty between us had lain for so long.
" The Foreign Secretary, on the other hand, was unable to
agree to any immediate decision. He wished to say in reply
that, in the opinion of His Majesty's Government, the moment
for the official opening of conversations had not arisen, and
that we wished to wait until a substantial withdrawal of
volunteers had taken place. In particular, he insisted that we
ought to have had some indication from the Italian Govern-
ment, such as their acceptance of the British formula for the
withdrawal of volunteers from Spain, which, he pointed out,
had been waiting for Italian acceptance for some considerable
time, before we committed ourselves even to conversations.
But -when I asked him whether, if such an acceptance could be
obtained from the Italians, he would then be able to agree to
the commencement of the conversations, he made it clear that
his objections would still remain. In these circumstances,
with the full concurrence and at the desire of the Foreign
Secretary, I decided to summon the Cabinet for Saturday
afternoon, the next day, I informed Count Grandi that I
could not give him our final decision until to-day, but that,
in the meantime, it would be helpful if he could obtain from
his Government such an assurance as the Foreign Secretary
had spoken of.
" I need not recite in detail the subsequent events of Saturday
and Sunday. I think the House already knows that when the
Cabinet had heard the views of my right hon. Friend and
myself, their views leaned to my side rather than to his, but
it was a very great shock to many of my colleagues that they
learned that a final decision in this sense would involve the
resignation of my right hon. Friend, Prolonged and persistent
efforts were made to induce him to change his decision, but it
was all in vain, and in the course of the evening I received