British Foreign policy 1951-64

  • Created by: Lottie
  • Created on: 17-05-12 07:32

Foreign Policy 1951 – 64


The key aspects of foreign policy in this period surround the following;

  • The retreat from empire.
  • The impact of Suez.
  • The ‘Winds of change’ in Africa.
  • Attempts to join the EEC.


Britain’s declining imperial role 1951 – 64.

·         India was granted independence in 1947 by Attlee’s government.

·         Throughout the 1950s more countries in the empire had independence movements which became

·         harder to ignore. British troops were fighting against independence movements in Malaya, Kenya and Cyprus. The same pressures were being faced by all the European imperial powers, notably France in Indo-China.

·         It was becoming harder to resist independence movements on moral grounds as the 1950s continued.

·         Firstly, we had fought WW2 on the back of the ideas of freedom and independence.

·         It would be hypocritical not to allow imperial possessions to have their own freedom.

·         Then in 1956 Suez removed the final moral rug from under Britain.

·         After the debacle of Suez, British government began to rethink the pace of independence for the empire

·         . In 1957 Ghana became the first African colony to be granted independence, followed until 1963 by the West Indian Federation, Nigeria, Cyprus, Tanganyika, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Kenya. This rush for independence was the background to Macmillan’s 1960 ‘Wind’s of Change’ speech.


·         Although he was addressing the South African parliament, his real audience was the whole of Africa and public opinion at home.

·         he believed that change was inevitable

·         The only other alternative to independence was to send troops to fight uprising= gain Britain a reputation as a repressive regime, but would be counter productive.

·         Macmillan believed that even though not all the countries were completely ready to govern themselves, they would be better off starting sooner rather than later and to gain experience.

·         British decolonisation was completed more quickly and with less violence than many other European countries managed, notably Portugal or Belgium.



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