Halifax.

The meeting was tense. The Prime Minister, Winston, David Margesson and I sat across from each other, in the office of 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister, fully aware that his time was up due to the Norwegian fiasco leaned across and asked Winston directly and asked Winston if he had any objections, in this day and age to a member of the Lords becoming Prime Minister? Winston, being the statesman he was remained silent, looking out over Horse Guards Parade, when Neville pushed him for an answer. He turned around; looking directly at the Prime Minister, with a resigned look on his face giving the immortal words ‘No, I don’t believe I can object.’ Neville smiled and said; in that case I will send word to the Palace to appoint Edward as the new Prime Minister.

And thus, began my term as leader of our great nation.

The situation was grim. Southern Norway was effectively a lost cause with our forces holding grimly to the north and that very day, the Germans began marauding through France at a frightening rate, despite our best hopes in the bravery and professionalism of both ours and the French Army, defeatism hung in the air like the stench of death. In addition to this, our reserves, estimated at some £4,500 million were being spent almost entirely on new weapons from the Americans. Our position, to say the least was difficult.

My first difficulties however were domestic. My first act as Prime Minister was to appoint Winston as War Secretary and place Anthony Eden in the Foreign Office. I did this consciously in the knowledge that Winston would be able to throw himself into the task of defeating the Nazi menace and Anthony had more of the diplomatic touch about him. The next aim, which took much persuasion, was to include David-Lloyd George in the Cabinet, giving him a joint responsibility of the Admiralty and Deputy Prime Minister. This, I believe gave the Government more gravitas.

Having made the necessary changes to the Cabinet, the next task was to get a bill pushed through the Commons, allowing me to speak, if not vote in the chamber. Despite opposition from the Labour Party and elements of our own backbenchers, we managed to get the bill through by the end of May.

Within a fortnight of becoming the Prime Minister, the first major challenge of my authority came. It was obvious that France was falling. Our forces were trapped in a pocket in North East France, and the pocket was getting smaller.

General Ironside contacted me to inform me he believed the only course of action remaining was for evacuation of British Forces from France. This in itself was a big measure, but one that we had no choice in the matter owing to the fact that the French forces around us were collapsing. In that we were in a position where we had to remove our troops from the theatre was not one which was taken lightly, but one which had to be done. The position was critical.

Over the next week (26 May-June 4th) we did everything in our power to get as many allied, British, French, Belgian and Dutch troops back to England as we possibly could. We even enlisted the help of the local fishing crews, whose gallantry in saving British soldiers with fishing boats whilst being strafed by Nazi Dive Bombers cannot be underestimated. By June 4th, we had managed to evacuate 200,000 British Soldiers alongside 150,000 French troops. During the evacuation, 30,000 servicemen, mainly of the Highland Regiments who fought an excellent rearguard action were killed in action. Were it not for them, it is my conviction that we would not be here today.

Following the evacuation, an assessment of our position took place and defences began to be prepared along the southern coast of our land. Invasion was a real possibility, and were it not for the strength of the Royal Navy, may well have actually happened.

During June, the position in France became even more critical, to the extent that its fall was expected. On June 6th, I went to Bordeaux, to visit Reynaud in the hope that there be someway in which the French could carry on the fight. His pessimism was the most frightening thing that I had witnessed up until that point. He stated he, personally was willing to fight on, from North Africa if needs be, but was convinced that the anti-war party within his cabinet was now too strong to hold and that France would fall within the next couple of weeks. To this end, he begged that I allow the French to make a separate peace with the Nazis. It broke my heart that I could not do so, but I promised to bring the matter of a peace deal up with the Cabinet the next day.

Following my return to London, which included a close scrape, where a Me110 attacked my aircraft, which only narrowly escaped due to a Hurricane being in close proximity, the decisive cabinet meeting was held.

The meeting was packed, with an atmosphere which was electric. I put it to the Cabinet the following points, which I feel need being made clear.

1) That we request at midnight 8/6/1940 a ceasefire with German Forces on Land, Sea and air.
2) That we enter negotiations with Nazi Germany ensuring a peace deal is reached.
3) That we would only accept a deal this preserves the independence and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom and the British Empire.
4) That should no such deal be reached, then war would be resumed between the belligerent powers.

The Cabinet sat in silence as I read the points out to them. I made clear my belief that France was lost, that we should continue to rearm and defend the south coast as talks took place. Thus even should talks break down, we would be safe from attack and in a stronger position than we were currently in.

The War faction of the Cabinet was led by Churchill, who insisted that this would look like abject surrender, and that he would campaign against the move, to which L-G replied he would oppose Churchill, and he would let the people decide if the victor of the Great War or the ideologue behind the Dardanelles to believe. I looked Winston in the eye at this point and made the point that I appointed him as War Secretary due to the fact I believed he had the drive and motivation to do the job, and that he would be able to begin work on the Southern Wall in case talks fail. Despite his unhappiness with such a policy, he fell in line with good grace, as did most of the cabinet.

Following the meeting, I telegrammed the four points to Raynaud, who accepted them on behalf of the French without so much as a cabinet meeting. Anthony then went straight to the Swedish Embassy where he passed the terms over, to be given to the Germans. Within an hour, a positive response had been gathered from Berlin. At midnight on the 8th June 1940, the German Forces stopped on the front line, most strikingly, at one point, just beyond Verdun.

Following discussions between ourselves and the Germans through the Swedes, we agreed that the peace conference would take place in the Palace of Versailles. Upon my visit of the historic Palace, I wondered how the negotiations would go. My intention was clear, to gain time to rearm in case the talks faltered and at the same time, save France from some level of humiliation.

With the Swedish and Italian officials present as mediators, we entered discussions which would decide the fate of not only France and Europe, but the World.
 
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Halifax as PM and immediately tried to arrange s/u/r/r/e/n/d/e/r peace terms with Nazis, and you say LACKING cliché?
Firstly, it is not a surrender I have put about here, its a temporary peace deal. Secondly, he is acting in the full knowledge that the British are running out of money and by this point, a month in, France is for want of a better word, fucked. Remember, the meeting here is backed, admittedly by the four British points, but is initiated by the French.

Britain is still rearming during the ceasefire, and Churchill is building the Southern line of defence as talks progress, or as I'm going to call it the Churchill Wall. In addition to this, the British economy will be kept on a war footing.

This means that regardless of how the talks go, Britain will be in a stronger position than in OTL. It also means that France will get a chance to reorganise its forces in the interim period.

Whilst I admit that Halifax seeking peace is a bit cliché, I dont think what I am proposing here is outlandish.

Do not be under the misapprehension though that any peace would be permenant. After all, there were peace deals signed during the Napoleonic wars......

Why on earth does everybody think Halifax would've cut a deal?
That being said, Halifax lead the pro-peace faction of the Tories.
 
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I always pictured a British peace deal in 1940(short of the REAL cliche Mosley coup), as something akin to the Napoleonic wars.

Okay, we lost this round, but we'll be back.

Hitler would probably accept a white peace with Britain if they recognized Vichy France and the 1940 conquests.
 
The Palace of Versailles is a beautiful old building, of that there can be no doubt. But when the Germans requested it as the location that any form of peace be negotiated, the French began to fear that they were going to be totally humiliated as part of any proposed peace deal. I ensured both Weygand and Reynaud that they would have the backing of the United Kingdom, come what may.

On June 14th, as I sat down in the Hall of Mirrors to open the negotiations, I looked at General Weygand and remarked that it is funny how, just over twenty years earlier we had concluded the war to end all wars in this very room. Weygand, with a stony face turned to me and stated that he feared this conference would lead to the end of western democracy. I have to confess, a chill ran down the back of my spine as he said it.

At the back of my mind were the concessions given to that ghastly little corporal in Munich just a few years previous, and I was determined that should all my demands not be met, then we would go back to war. All the while our industry was free, if only temporarily of the U-Boat menace and any threat of air raid was coming into full gear. Military hardware of all kinds was racing off the production line. We were talking peace, whilst preparing war.

The British Government had several points, all of which were agreed by the cabinet. Of these Germany leaving the French channel coast, the Low Countries and Norway was pivotal and the most crucial point. Their presence in these nations was a direct threat to British national security and could not be tolerated under any circumstances. The Germans, of course complained that we were using the temporary ceasefire to accelerate our armaments production, but still they agreed to talk.

At the opening meeting, Ciano in all his supposed pomp took the lead in attempting to act like a statesman. He proposed that each side propose their own terms over the first couple of days, and then each side would negotiate as to the terms for peace. As they were, currently, in the more powerful position, the Germans, Ribbentrop speaking on their behalf, opened up with their proposals.

He proposed the following points.

1)That the British and French recognise the German occupation of Poland.
2)That Germany should be allowed to annex Alsace-Lorraine.
3)That the industrial areas to the east of France and Southern Belgium be occupied for a period of five years, during which time they will operate under the jurisdiction of the German Reich.
4)That Britain and France accept a German army of occupation in the rest of the Low Countries as an insurance policy for Germany against the Western powers reneging on any such deal.
5)That a ten year ‘friendship treaty’ be signed between the belligerents.
6)That the German fleet be allowed to use British and French ports in the Mediterranean.
7)That France should limit her military to 250,000 men and that her Navy and Air Force should be cut accordingly.
8)That France cede the island of Madagascar to the Germans.

These were followed by the Franco-British counter proposals.

1)That German Forces leave Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands and the French Coastal ports.
2)That in the Low Countries, Denmark and Norway, the legitimate Government should be restored.
3)That Germany promise to limit the size of its fleet, as it is a danger to the United Kingdom.
4)That under no circumstances will the Western Powers accepts war guilt or will pay indemnities towards the German State.

To go through the proposals, beginning with von Ribbentrops, the opening German point was a fait accompli, which is why we never had it as one of our points. The second and third points, although harmful to French pride and causing division amongst the French Cabinet were also accepted. The fourth point, we simply could not agree to under any circumstances.

To agree to that point would have left the British Isles open to attack from Germany at any point. We also disagreed with the fifth point, on the premise that it should turn us into vassals of that vile dictator in Berlin. The sixth point was also rejected out of hand by us, although the French agreed that French ports in the Med be used. Despite everything, the French knowing the alternative was defeat accepted the seventh point, but managed to gain agreement that it would be for the next five years only. They also agreed to the final point.


The Germans, whilst disagreeing with our opening point, agreed that they would leave the western occupied nations, on the condition that we signed a ten year non-aggression pact with them. To this, we agreed as it was more neutral to their ludicrous ‘Treaty of Friendship’, it did ensure the Germans left Norway, Belgium and Holland. Alas, they refused to leave Denmark, and being in no position to stop them, we were forced into accepting their occupation of the little northern realm.

As to our third point, they accepted that they would keep to our initial naval treaty with them. They also accepted, with grace, our final point.

To be looked in the cold light of day, the Second Versailles Treaty gave us, as I stated in a speech to the Commons ‘Peace with Honour’ although, by any stretch of the imagination, it was not a victory. Only a fool would have considered it a permanent peace treaty.

One thing which we did manage to achieve was a loophole in the treaty, unsighted by the Germans that whereas they demanded the limit of French troops, they never mentioned the prospect of foreign troops on French soil, and as such the day after the event took place, Anthony managed to gain agreement for the permanent stationing of some 75,000 British service men and women in France, alongside twelve RAF airfields. Whatever happened, it was agreed that we would not abandon France. This was only made public however on August 8th, when the last German jackboot left Belgium.

The following day, I personally received a direct protest from the German ambassador that the United Kingdom and France had betrayed the trust of the German Reich, to which I enquired ‘How is President Havel these days?’ When the news became public, it made headlines across the globe.
 
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Before anyone replies stating the Nazis went easy on France, I've went with the peace I did for a few reasons.

1) Paris had not fallen yet.
2) Hitler was already thinking of Russia and as such required peace with France and Britain as quickly as possible.
3) During the talks, the French managed to reorganise their forces.
4) The fact that the British would not go for peace without France being kept almost intact is a biggie.

Think the end of the Great War without reparations, rather than what happened in OTL. Also, as I have hinted at, the peace is not going to be permenant, as we will see as the timeline goes on.
 

Keenir

Banned
Firstly, it is not a surrender I have put about here, its a temporary peace deal.

This means that regardless of how the talks go, Britain will be in a stronger position than in OTL.
and that's what's got me reading this - the prospect to see a successful War Halifax.

Do not be under the misapprehension though that any peace would be permenant.
I suspect it would make Point 4 (in the OP) a self-fufiling prophecy: that war would re-begin, but on terms more favorable to the British.
 
An interesting twist. Along with Halifax, I suppose Hitler's a bit more... sane... ITTL.

I suppose the real question is, how long before the pot boils over again? Will that give Hitler enough time to take on the Russians?

Not to mention will Japan still start the Pacific War, without Britain at war with Germany. Or does that default Japan to the "Go North" Option?
 
Halifax was major anti-communist in otl. Would he lend lease to Germany in a fight with Russia?
Short answer, no.

Despite being at peace, Germany was still the enemy, and it was the number one aim of the Halifax Government iTTL at least to unsettle and create as much instability in the Nazi regime as possible.

That being said, the Soviet Union was hardly a friend but events will take their course, as we will see, without giving too much away.
 
An interesting twist. Along with Halifax, I suppose Hitler's a bit more... sane... ITTL.

I suppose the real question is, how long before the pot boils over again? Will that give Hitler enough time to take on the Russians?

Not to mention will Japan still start the Pacific War, without Britain at war with Germany. Or does that default Japan to the "Go North" Option?
All questions that will be answered in the fullness of time.
 
Anyone ever thought this would be a good thing?

I mean Stalin should now realise the Germans are coming for him and that might reverse some of the early disasters of Barbarossa.

Also Attlee will likely win in a 1940/41 election and take Britian right back into the War, possibly in Greece.
 
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