Prime Minister's Announcement.
War with Germany.

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood

Mr Arthur Greenwood (Wakefield)

The atmosphere of this House has changed overnight. Resentment, apprehension, anger, reigned over our proceedings last night, aroused by a fear that delays might end in national dishonour and the sacrifice of the Polish people to German tyranny. Those feelings, I have reason to believe, were shared by large numbers of people outside, and, from messages which have come to me this morning, I believe that what I said last night met with the approval of our people. This morning we meet in an entirely different atmosphere— one of relief, one of composure, and one of resolution. The intolerable agony of suspense from which all of us have suffered is over; we now know the worst. The hated word "war" has been spoken by Britain, in fulfilment of her pledged word and unbreakable intention to defend Poland and so to defend the liberties of Europe. We have heard more than the word spoken. We have heard the war begin, within the precincts of this House.

I feel that I must, in the name of my hon. Friends—I think I may say in the name of the whole House and of the whole of our people—pay tribute to the great restraint shown by Poland in recent weeks. The last 54 hours have proved that their restraint was not due to cowardice, but to a firm conviction in the righteousness of their cause. For 54 hours Poland has stood alone, at the portals of civilisation, defending us and all free nations, and all that we stand for, and all that we hold dear. She has stood with unexampled bravery, with epic heroism, before her hesitant friends have come to her aid. Poland we greet as a comrade whom we shall not desert. To her we say, "Our hearts are with you, and, with our hearts, all our power, until the angel of peace returns to our midst."

Lastly, in this titanic struggle, unparalleled, I believe, in the history of the world, Nazism must be finally overthrown. The Prime Minister has given us his word that it shall be, and as long as that relentless purpose is pursued with vigour, with foresight, and with determination by the Government, so long will there be a united nation. But should there be confused councils, inefficiency and wavering, then other men must be called to take their places. We share no responsibilities in the tremendous tasks which confront the Government, but we have responsibilities of our own, which we shall not shirk. We have given proof in this Chamber in the past few days that we shall give wholehearted support to the measures necessary to equip this State with the powers that are desired. That support, I pledge this House, will continue. In other directions, according to our opportunities, we shall make our full contribution to the national cause. May the war be swift and sure, and may the peace which follows stand proudly for ever on the shattered ruins of an evil name.

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