Churchill and Britain's 'Financial Dunkirk'
University of Exeter
Twentieth Century British History
Oxford University Press
At the end of World War II the United Kingdom, on the verge of bankruptcy, was threatened with ‘a financial Dunkirk’. Winston Churchill was eager to help the new Labour government tackle this crisis. However, his ability to give such help, in his position as Leader of the Opposition, was constrained by important divisions within his own party. These caused him considerable political difficulties as 1945 came to a close, prompting a major Conservative rebellion against his leadership on the question of the proposed US loan to Britain. Yet, in spite of his discomfiture on this issue in the domestic sphere, he went on, during his 1946 trip to the USA, to play a key role in overcoming congressional opposition to the loan. Moreover, he did so in close collaboration with Clement Attlee’s government. In reciprocating the spirit of unity that Labour had showed in 1940, Churchill revived, during Britain’s ‘financial Dunkirk’, the spirit and the ethos of the original. Using previously unpublished evidence, this article tells the story in full for the first time.
This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Twentieth Century British History following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version (Vol.15 (4), 2004 pp. 329-360) is available online at: http://tcbh.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/15/4/329
15 (4), pp. 329-360