Foreign relations/affairs 1951-1964/1964-70



1951-1964 - Foreign relations (page 29)

1964-70 - Foreign affairs (page 68)

Foreign relations 1951-1964:

  • WW2 left Britain damaged (debt and overshadowed by 2 new military superpowers)
  • 1947 India and Pakistan independence granted, marking start of Britains “retirement from empire”

Key aspects-

  • The retreat from empire 
  • the impact of Suez 
  • The “winds of change” in Africa 
  • Attempts to join the EEC 

Britain’s declining imperial role 1951-64: 

  • India was granted independence in 1947 by Attlee’s gov which sparked the beginning of the “repeat from empire”
  • throughout the 50s more countries started independence movements which became harder to ignore 
  • British troops fighting independence movements in Malaysia/Kenya/Cyprus 
  • became harder to resist independence on moral grounds (WW2 was fought on moral grounds and hypocritical to deny independence)
  • 1956 Suez removed moral rug from under Britain and after the Brits began to rethink the pace of independence for the empire 
  • 1957 Ghana first African country to leave, 
  • Macmillan 1960s “Winds of change speech” addressed South Africa directly but all of Africa indirectly, he believed change was inevitable and the only other alternative to independence was to send troops to fight uprisings and would be counter productive 
  • Macmillan beloved even through not all countries ready for independence, they would be better off starting sooner thatcher than later and to gain experience 
  • Decolonisation was completely more quickly and with less violence than many other European countries managed, noticeably Portugal or Belgium 
  • issues still surrounding some colonies though, such as Rhodesia, Gibraltar and Falklands which found shaking British ties off hard 
  • Britain found new independent nations keen to distance themselves from old master and lost trade agreements 

Britain and Europe-

  • Initial European project was based around the Schuman Plan of 1950
  • The other European countries were keen for Britain to join the new economic pact and offered Britain an “open door”. Britain (and the USA) were very much in favour of it as it promised enhanced European security, Britain had weakening link to empire=appealing 
  • In 1959 Britain took a leading role in the formation of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), but this was only moderately successful and in 1961 Britain made first application to join EEC 
  • However, negotiations were made more complex by Britains desire to keep her position in three areas of world affairs; with the Commonwealth, with the USA and with Europe
  • The reasons why Britain was less than enthusiastic about joining before 1961-
    • No national consensus on joining
    • The Labour Party was suspicious about its free market principle
    • The vast majority of Conservatives were keen to retain soon links to the Commonwealth and saw these as more important than ties with Europe 
    • For many in the population they had grown up during the war, and were suspicious of economic relations/agreements with Germany.
    • Many people still viewed Britain as a world power.
    • The benefits for trade were largely disregarded.
    • British fringe policy at this time was dominated…




this was really helpful! :)