147 Mr M. MacDonald, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Mr J. A. Lyons, Prime Minister

Cablegram unnumbered LONDON, 20 March 1938


Following for Prime Minister [1]:-

Your secret and personal telegram March 17th about Austria. [2]

You will have seen from telegram Circular B.69 [3] of 19th March that the statement quoted was not intended to constitute an immediate 'de jute' recognition. We appreciate argument as to the plebiscite not yet having taken place, but it is in our view undesirable to wait for results in view of conditions in which plebiscite is being held. To do so might give impression that we necessarily accepted the plebiscite as free and unconstrained expression of Austrian people's wish.

With regard to your reference to Abyssinia, we feel circumstances are not all respects analogous and indeed our desire to avoid further useless exacerbation of position which would be bound to result from a protracted refusal to recognise what must be recognised in the end is one of the main factors which have influenced our attitude. We have as a matter of fact received no information which suggests our attitude in this respect as regards Austria has aroused any adverse feeling in the mind of the Italian Government.

I most warmly appreciate in the circumstances of the present moment your expression of Australia's determination to co-operate with the United Kingdom and I am very grateful for your offer of consultation through Mr Bruce [4] on urgent questions as they develop. It is certainly our wish to consult with him to the fullest extent practicable and he had an opportunity to discuss the situation fully with the Foreign Secretary [5] and the Dominions Secretary [6] last Wednesday evening. [7] We shall continue to keep in close touch with him.

1 It is possible that the words 'from Prime Minister' have been omitted at this point.

2 Document 139.

3 Document 146.

4 High Commissioner in London.

5 Viscount Halifax.

6 Malcolm MacDonald.

7 16 March 1938.

[AA : A981, GREAT BRITAIN 8B, ii]