British public opinion on France, the entente cordiale, and the Anglo-Russian entente: 1903-8
Oswald, John G.
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The Anglo-French Entente received almost from the moment of its inception the endorsement of the British people. Although Anglo-French relations had been steadily improving since the end of the Boer war and the denouement of the Dreyfus affair, it was the warm and friendly greeting which King Edward VII received during his State visit to Paris in the spring of 1903 that first made the various quarters of British public opinion desirous of a full-fledged understanding with France. The conclusion of the colonial Convention of 8 April 1904 reinforced this desire. With the exception of a handful of 'High Tories' and Imperialist stalwarts, most of whom complained that Britain lost more territory and privileges than she gained, the terms of this Convention proved acceptable to the bulk of the nation. Most Conservatives and Liberal Imperialists saw the Convention as a development which bolstered Britain's position in the world and which helped the nation meet the challenge of German expansionism, while most Radicals and Socialists saw it as a peaceful event which heralded the beginning of a series of bi-lateral pacts among the Powers, including Germany. Despite these high expectations, some disillusionment soon set in in various quarters of public opinion. Businessmen who nourished the idea that the rapprochement was economic as well as political in its ramifications discovered to their dismay that the Entente had done nothing to encourage the French to abandon protectionism. The short-lived trade boom which followed the signing of the 1904 Agreements was little compensation to them.