31 JANUARY 1941, Page 2

Berlin and Vichy

Developments at Vichy would be worth watching closely watching shed any light on them. But the drama, for drama there undoubtedly is, is in the main being played with the curtain down. We know that the Minister of Justice, M. Alibert, - has resigned for "reasons of health" and that M. Alibert was an opponent of M. Laval. M. Belin, the Minister of Labour, has also resigned ; the significance of that is not clear. Nothing like Ministerial stability at Vichy has yet been attained. A consultative council of 200 persons, appointed by Marshal Petain, has been created, but it remains to be seen whether it will have an effective political influence, and if so in what direction. More important, M. Fernand de Brinon, the Vichy representative in Paris, has returned to that city from Berlin and is said to have brought with him a belated reply frorp Herr Hitler to a letter of a month ago from Marshal Petain regarding the execution of the armistice terms. It is expected to contain various new demands, affecting the use by Germany not only of ports in unoccupied France but also, very probably. of Bizerta, in Tunis. The French fleet may also be involved In that event the crisis which Marshal Petain has been able to stave off for so long will then be imminent. France, by all the evidence available, is becoming increasingly aini-German, but her power to thwart German plans is limited.