In 1948, on this day the House of Commons vetoed British participation in the European Recovery Programme (ERP) known as "The Marshall Plan". And the Labour Government fell within days of the rejection of this agreement the Prime Minister Clement Attlee had personally negotiated.
Britain rejects the Marshall PlanThe left-wing majority of Members of Parliament (MPs) were united in their objection to "undertake" all policies that would ensure the efficient and practical use of its economic resources recognising that such a commitment would provide US policymakers with sufficient grounds to obstruct the Socialist Government's nationalization plans.
Labour MP Leslie Solley had captured the sense of unease and frustration in the House by describing the ERP as a "disaster of the first magnitude for this country to sell its grand heritage for a mess of pottage". Communist Walter Hannington added that the terms "fundamentally undermine British economic and political independence" as "final control of British financial ... policy is now in US hands" and that they "afford endless opportunity to US big business to dominate and decide policy for Britain".
Trouble was that ERP was a one-size-fits all plan that directly exported US goods and commodoties directly to recovering nations, and hence the mission statement "All Our Colours to the Mast". Because the plan did not supply dollars Britain's key problem would remain unchanged - the nearly exhausted national fund of foreign exchange. What US policy makers did not expect was the next step taken by the British Government. Havingly only recently argued over the provisions of the Atlantic Charter some five short years before, the incoming Socialist Government was on the verge of defaulting on pre-war debts, announcing the closure of all overseas military bases and a compressed schedule for withdrawing from her colonies before the end of the decade.