In 1939, on this day the House of Commons witnessed scenes of uproar which were surely without precedent since the English Civil War.
Countdown to War Part 2: Speak for EnglandThe Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Lord Halifax revealed that it was infeasible for the British and French Governments to assist the beleagured Poles repel the German military which was even now massing on their border. And having re-evaluated the bleak prospects for such a misadventure, a logical decision had now been reached in London and Paris to allow the Polish security guarantee to "lapse".
Privately, Halifax was confident that Mr Hitler had "no plan or blueprint for world conquest". In fact the Swedish businessman Birger Dahlerus was acting as a freelance diplomat, and progress towards a framework agreement had already been made. The outcome would be the so-called "Munich II" Conference in which the Polish Corridor was returned to Germany along with the Port of Danzig.
"You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour, and you will have war"A cross party census was formed by Hawks and Doves alike. With Clement Attlee recovering from an operation, acting Labour leader Arthur Greenwood was given the impossible task of speaking on behalf of Her Majesty's Opposition, which was itself deeply divided. From the Conservative back benches Leo Amery cried "Speak for England, Arthur!" Only the previous year, his late colleague Winston Churchill had prophetically stated "You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour, and you will have war". But at least for now, more dishonour had been chosen.