2 JUNE 1961, Page 9

The Zurich Speech

Among the many fallacies about Churchill two of the most popular are that he has always been a dedicated European and always a devout believer in the Atlantic alliance. The second is almost entirely due to the fact that soon after he became Prime Minister in 1940 Britain was Isolated from the Continent by the fall of France and compelled to look across the Atlantic for the means of survival. The fluke that he had an American mother, and a sort of Bernard Shaw-Ellen Terry friendship with Pre- sident Roosevelt based upon a mutual interest in naval matters, then came in useful as human colouring for what was essentially—on both sides--a compact of expediency. Before the War there was no evidence that either filial piety or a sense of Atlantic brotherhood counted for much in Churchill's political thinking.

His reputation as a European rests upon his incomparable service to the cause of freedom in Europe, when he was leading his own country at war; upon his much-advertised love of France; and upon the sentiments which were summed up in his speech at Zarich on September 19, 1946. It may seem churlish to point out that this reputation is largely unfounded, but Churchill is so great a man that his fame does not need to be buttressed by myth. He saved Europe in the process of saving Britain: Britain was his overriding concern and his appeal in 1940 was to British patriotism, of which he was and is the supreme exponent. His love of France is super- ficial: he has never properly understood the French and his acquaintance with their country has hardly penetrated beyond the cosmopolitan circles of Paris and the Riviera.

The Zurich speech is even more revealing of his limitations as a European. What, he asked, was the remedy for Europe's ills? It was 'to re- create the European Family, or as much of it as we can, and provide it with a structure under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom.' There is already,' he said, 'a natural grouping in the Western Hemisphere. We British have our own Commonwealth . . . and why should there not be a European group which could give a sense of enlarged patriotism and common citizenship to the distracted peoples of this turbulent and mighty continent. . . ?"In all this urgent work France and Germany must take the lead together. Great Britain, the British Commonwealth of Nations, mighty America, and I trust Soviet Russia—for then indeed all would be well—must be the friends and sponsors of the new Europe and must champion its right to live and shine.' (My italics.) There was less excuse in late 1946 than in 1944 for being so blind to the post-war realities of power. Now, there is no excuse at all. De Gaulle saw long ago that his precious France must choose between being a technically sovereign but second-class Power, and pooling some of her sovereignty in order to wield

'lie's gone off to join the Common Market.'

authority in the world, on a par with Russia and America. Churchill and his successors have failed to make the choice for Britain, because they have refused to admit its necessity. Mean- while the Europeans have been getting on with the job themselves and have achieved, in the Rome Treaty, a spectacular triumph and a new point of departure.