By Amin George Forji

Strange bed-fellows. This is perhaps the most appropriate way to qualify the extraordinary proposal made by the French PM, Monsieur Guy Mollet on 10 September 1956 to his British counterpart at the time, Anthony Eden, that the two countries merge into one. The revelation came as a shock to many on Monday, Jan. 15th, exactly half a century later, when the BBC aired what she called “Vive la Frangleterre”. The information, according the BBC, laid virtually unnoticed at the Britain’s National Archives in London, as a secret document.

See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6261885.stm

Monsieur Mollet’s proposal said to have been made while he was on a state visit to London in 1956 did not sink well into the ears of Mr. Eden, so he turned down the idea just the same way it came in. Monsieur Mollet, himself a former English teacher and a lover of British values and traditions, determined to import everything that was English to his native France made yet a second proposal to Mr. Eden, this time around when he later visited Paris, that France be admitted into the British Commonwealth of Nations. The latter proposal is said to have received Mr. Eden’s informal backing.

An excerpt of the proposal discovered at the Britain’s National Archives in London read thus:

“When the French Prime Minister, Monsieur Mollet was recently in London he raised with the prime minister the possibility of a union between the United Kingdom and France.”

Furthermore, France is said to have shown preparedness to embrace a common citizenship arrangement on the Irish basis, the BBC reported. In addition, “Monsieur Mollet had not thought there need be difficulty over France accepting the leadership of her Majesty “, according to recorded account between Mr. Eden and the British Cabinet Secretary at he time, Sir Norman Brook.

As to what motivated Monsieur Mollet to make such an extraordinary proposal, the BBC reported that it was a plea made in times of desperation. With the unfortunate memories of world war II (WWII) still fresh in France’s memory, coupled with the post war governmental instability, France considered itself to be in a desperate situation, and needed the kind of British Allied support that rescued her from the Germans during WWII.

As if that was not enough, Frances control over the Colony of Algeria in Africa was seriously threatened by the radial president of Egypt at the time, Nasser, who was busy sponsoring determined separatists in Algeria, against he French colonizers. The same Nasser had just nationalized he Suez canal, a major source channel of Anglo-French commerce, and Mollet needed British assistance to hit back at Nasser.

It is also suspected that France may have anticipated that she was likely going to be engulfed by the growing two superpowers at the time, the USA and the USSR.

No records of the proposal are expected to be existing in France. With France merging up with her former enemy, Germany, a year later in 1957 to form the European Steal and Coal Community, which will later degenerated into what is today known as the EU,and with France attaining more political maturity in able hands of Gen. Charles de Gaulle, under the fifth republic, the zeal to have British protection seemed to have faded away.

The BBC further quoted Henri Soutou, a history professor at the Sorbonne in Paris as saying that the whole idea was “preposterous.”.

“The idea of joining the Commonwealth and accepting the leadership of Her Majesty would not have gone down well,” He added.

Kevin Ruane, a British history lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University, England on his part said the idea was quoted by Fox News as saying hat the idea was practically imossible.

“It’s so impracticable an idea that it has only been raised in extreme situations,” Said Ruane.

See: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,243783,00.html

[Edited by Simon – Made links work, and minor tweaks to text] 

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