11 FEBRUARY 1938, Page 2

Anglo-Italian Relations The change in the attitude of Italy towards

this country in the last week is marked. Of that fact there can be no question ; regarding the reason there is more room for speculation. The Italian Press is rigorously marshalled, and if its campaign of polemics against Great Britain suddenly ceases the explanation must be sought elsewhere than in the newspaper-offices themselves. Not only are there signs of a détente, but the desire to represent the initiative as being taken by Whitehall is no less evident. There is no harm in that, though actually the facts are otherwise. The congenitally sceptical can interpret the new moderation as a pose designed to mask fresh activities in Spain. All the indications are against that theory. What appears to be happening is that Signor Mussolini is realising that the Spanish adventure has lasted long, cost much and effected little ; that his responsi- bilities in Abyssinia are weighing on him increasingly ; that Italy's economic position is grave and may soon be desperate ; and that the reorganisation in Germany may portend a new move against Austria, whose independence of Berlin is a cardinal point in Italian foreign policy. In such circum- stances there is everything to be said for attempting an improvement in Italy's relations with Great Britain. The desire for improvement is reciprocated here, but it must be made dependent on an Italian withdrawal from Spain and must not be made dependent on de jure recognition of Italy's conquest of Abyssinia.