Ernest Bevin resigns

Article from the Baltimore Sun newspaper called “Britain a new Foreign Secretary”, 10th March, 1951, © Baltimore Sun (FO 371/90934)


Britain gets a new Foreign Secretary

It may seem strange, but in this of all times Great Britain has been without a Foreign Secretary, practically speaking for months past.

Mr. Bevin, until yesterday the nominal Foreign Secretary, is a very sick man; and only a sense of loyalty on the part of Prime Minister Attlee, comparable in its way to Mr. Truman’s well-known sense of loyalty to his friends no matter what happens to them, has prevented a change. In the recent House of Commons debate on foreign affairs, it was Mr. Attlee himself who had to carry the burden. And to do this he had to prime himself especially for the purpose, since his responsibilities are numerous and heavy.

Last night, Mr. Bevin finally resigned his post. It is no reflection on his past services in this office today that this is welcome news, and not only for England, but for this country as well. These days, firm guidance of British foreign policy is as important to us as it is to the British.

The question now is whether Mr. Morrison, who succeeds him, is the right man for the job.

It will not be forgotten that when the Labor party first came into office, there was sharp rivalry between several of the leaders of the party for the Foreign Office post, and Mr. Morrison was one of the aspirants. Yet is questionable whether in a time like this, his qualifications are the right ones. For Mr. Morrison’s talents are those of a party whip and parliamentary leader, attentive to all variations of opinion within the party and ever ready to compromise differences. Yet in England at present the deep split on foreign policy is not between the Labor party and the Conservative opposition but between two factions of the Labor party itself: the dominant group and the considerably smaller but highly vocal left wing of the party, which stands in general for a soft attitude towards Soviet Russia and cherishes a bias against many things American.

What Great Britain needs at present is a firm hand in charge of foreign affairs, a man fully capable of standing by his decisions and facing up to such intraparty diversions as the Labor left wing is constantly providing. We shall see quickly whether Mr. Morrison can do this.

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