Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Italian troops had invaded Abyssinia two months ago, pushing back Abyssinian troops without effective reaction from the League of Nations. British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Samuel Hoare and French Prime Minister Pierre Laval, both known for their appeasement policies, drafted an agreement to grant Italy much of prime Abyssinian territory, hoping that it would satisfy Italian military ambition. In exchange, Hoare and Laval requested Italy to stand against any German attempt to annex Austria; militarily, if necessary. The document was sent to Benito Mussolini in Rome, who suggested that he was satisfied with the terms, but he did not officially and publicly agree to it right away. The contents of the document leaked on 10 Dec 1935, and by 13 Dec harsh editorials in British and French newspapers denounced it. Laval was forced to resign under public outcry. Hoare also resigned after the cabinet (except for Neville Chamberlain) voted to remove him from government, though perhaps only using him as a scapegoat to save their own careers. Their careers were not gravely affected by the leaking of this secretive pact, however. Laval later would remain a political force especially in the Vichy government, and Hoare was already marked as the next Lord of the Admiralty and ultimately headed for the House of Lords as Viscount Templewood. It was simply how politics worked at that time; it was an "old boys club". Aside from the inability for the western Allies to curb Italian aggression, the Hoare-Laval scandal was also important for that it drove a wedge between Anglo-French relations.
Sources: the Last Lion, Wikipedia.
Hoare-Laval Pact Timeline
|10 Dec 1935||British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Samuel Hoare and French Prime Minister Pierre Laval secretly agreed on a plan to end the Italo-Abyssinian war by with terms strongly favoring Italy.|
|11 Dec 1935||Details of the Hoare-Laval Plan were published. Brewed by Pierre Laval with the agreement of Sir Samuel Hoare, the British Foreign Secretary, the plan suggested that Italy receive large slices of northern and southeast Abyssinia with half the country handed over for future exploitation and settlement. Abyssinia's compensation would be only an outlet to the sea. The Hoare-Laval plan raised such vigorous protests and outrage from British public opinion that Hoare was sacked and the Baldwin government forced to disown the plan.|
|13 Dec 1935||Harsh editorials against the Hoare-Laval Pact were published in British and French newspapers.|
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Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939