THE SQUARING OF THE CIRCLE
In one of his reports (apparently end of July 1935) Grandi announced that Mussolini's policy had many supporters in British Conservative circles. It was admitted that there should be an end to Britain's ridiculous infatuation for the League of Nations. The maintenance of cordial relations between Great Britain and Italy was of paramount importance. All colonial Powers would be benefited if Italy solved her colonial problem and won complete victory. There was no doubt about such a victory. In any case, large sections of British public opinion wanted England to remain neutral. Sir Austen Chamberlain was trying to evolve a formula which would legitimize Italian action in Ethiopia. Lloyd George was hostile to Italy. Winston Churchill did not commit himself. The Marquis of Lothian, who had been hostile, seemed to have been converted; it was said that he had inspired an article which had appeared in The Times advising that Italy be granted a mandate over Ethiopia. Lord Tyrrell, former Ambassador to Paris and former Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office, claimed that inasmuch as war was ultimately inevitable, its area must be circumscribed as much as possible; he proposed that Great Britain and France grant Italy a free hand. The Rothermere and Beaverbrook Press were favourable to Italy. But the Liberal and Labour Press was hostile, although perhaps a little less violent than previously. The semi-official Press seemed uncertain and contradictory.1 In short, "Britain", as a collective entity, never existed less than in 1935.
What, then, were the real intentions of the British Cabinet? What was the meaning of their decision to comply with the principles of the League?
On July 24, the British Ambassador to Rome handed to the Italian Foreign Minister a note in which the British Government declared itselfdisturbccl by the Italian Government's rejection of the solution proposed by Eden, by its demands for the cession of Ethiopia's peripheral provinces and control over the central nucleus, and its statement that it was ready to go to war unless its demands were satisfied; the Italian Government was repudiating the Anglo-French-Italian Treaty of 1906, not to mention the Covenant of the League, the Kellogg Pact, and the Italo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1928.
In its reply (July 31), the Italian Government heaped all the blame on the Ethiopian Government, which had "initiated its policy of for-____________________