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However, something had to be done to keep the French and Italian governments from forcing a break with Germany in response to the open German defiance of Versailles. Laval suggested that Simon should first come to Paris to confer with the Italian Under-Secretary Chamberlain insisted that only Eden should go; a junior minister rather than the Secretary of State. More important, Mussolini suggested a meeting in northern Italy of British, French and Italian ministers which he would attend. 19 The Berlin meeting with Hitler disappointed Simon and the British Cabinet.

Austen Chamberlain, in his role as (extraordinarily pompous) Conservative elder statesman, could not think 'that the verdict of the assembled world united at Geneva will count for nothing in the settlement of those issues when that settlement comes. ' However, the government should try 'to bring together the two parties in the Far East and to cause them to compose their differences'. Another Labour member thought that the situation could 'have been largely avoided if Britain had exercised in these international councils her enormous influence, and declared herself much more unequivocally than she has done in the last 18 months'.

On the other hand, there was nothing much in the 'AngloFrench, plan' to appeal to Hitler. The Fuhrer had a long conv~{sation with Sir Eric Phipps a few days before the AngloFrench meeting. He advised the British Conservative Party, REARMAMENT AND REPARATIONS 25 Phipps recorded, to 'discard so unattainable an object as disarmament from their programme'. He made clear, as so often in this decade, his own unchanging terms for Anglo-German understanding. Germany would lead the world on land, Britain at sea.

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