By Nicholas Rostow
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Additional resources for Anglo-French Relations, 1934–36
Britain had 560 first-line aircraft in the United Kingdom, 127 auxiliary planes and another 220 overseas, all supported by 'a far larger number either held in reserve to replace the normal peace time wastage or in current use in training and experimental work. Therefore, I say that there is no ground at this moment for undue alarm and still less for panic. ' Germany built and prepared. 108 The future was ominous. It contained 'ground for very grave anxiety'. So the government would be watchful: should a crisis come Britain would be ready.
At the same time, the Cabinet knew that the issues Churchill raised were real. Churchill had challenged the government's defence policy eight months earlier. Now, in November, while beginning to contemplate an election campaign, the government had to answer this harassing maverick seriously. He represented and publicised Conservative dissension and division; the Cabinet could never be sure how the public would react to him. In order to face Churchill, the Cabinet established a small committee to evaluate German rearmament and advise on both foreign and parliamentary policy in connection with it.
87 Churchill's argument rested on the view that strong defences would deter aggression; they were the indispensable basis of peace British Policy: July-November 1934 35 in a world consisting of states with different structures and ambitions. 'To urge the preparation of defence', he said, is not to assert the imminence of war. On the contrary, if war were imminent, preparations for defence would be too late. I do not believe that war is imminent or that war is inevitable, but it is very difficult to resist the conclusion that if we do not begin forthwith to put ourselves in a position of security it will soon be beyond our power to do so.
Anglo-French Relations, 1934–36 by Nicholas Rostow