Winston Churchill's Last Campaign: Britain and the Cold War, 1951-5

By John W. Young | Go to book overview

9
RETURN TO BERMUDA, OCTOBER-DECEMBER 1953

AN ANGLO-AMERICAN SUMMIT?

By October 1953 Churchill and Eden had both recovered from serious illness to find themselves in a similar position to that which had prevailed before Eden's first operation seven months before. No other potential successor had emerged from the Conservative ranks, the Prime Minister seemed unlikely to depart yet and Eden returned to his Foreign Office post. No East-West meeting had taken place, nor did one seem likely in the near future given the Soviet tactics in the new Battle of the Notes. Neither the FO, nor the Americans, French, or Germans had any great faith in the possibilities of détente but hopes of achieving an 'easement' of the Cold War continued to drive Churchill's ambition. Furthermore, having successfully passed the test of the Margate speech, he was eager to resume his campaign for détente where he had left off in June, hoping in particular to meet his old friend Eisenhower. In fact, as early as 9 July, Churchill had hoped the President could be tempted to visit London.1 Eisenhower himself, in a clumsy act, gave succour to such hopes soon after, by remarking--to British Ambassador Makins--that he would like to come to London, purely out of affection for Churchill. Makins passed word of this not to Downing Street, but to Salisbury and William Strang advised the Acting Foreign Secretary that the suggestion was so informal, Churchill need not be told about it. Salisbury however, on reflection, decided to mention the President's idea to the Prime Minister 'casually'; so 'casually' in fact that the latter did not react.2 Salisbury's success in this was rendered useless however when the US Ambassador, Aldrich, met Churchill and mentioned Eisenhower's proposal.3 Understandably

____________________
1
Lord Moran, Winston Churchill: The, Struggle for Survival ( 1966), diary entry of 9 July.
2
Eden also was evidently told: Public Record Office (PRO), Kew, FO 800/840 (22-4 July); E. Shuckburgh, Descent to Suez: Diaries, 1951-6 ( 1986), 89.
3
Aldrich denied he had told Churchill that 'Ike' would welcome a meeting: Ann Whitman File, Eisenhower Library, International Series, box 16 (7 Aug.). But Dulles and Makins believed Aldrich had been 'incautious: FO 800/840 (7 Aug.).

-210-

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