By Antony Lentin (auth.)
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Extra resources for Lloyd George and the Lost Peace: From Versailles to Hitler, 1919—1940
It was with difficulty that he was persuaded in the Hall of Mirrors to write a few ink-spotted lines to the King, `with his humble duty to Your Majesty', offering congratulations on the conclusion of peace. 118 22 Lloyd George and the Lost Peace Besides, he was bent on a state trial in Westminster Hall for the King's cousin, the ex-Kaiser, with all the paraphernalia of justice, though he had given little thought to the practicalities. The King, with his nautical passion for detail, reduced the baroque vision to farce, asking in some vexation `where the Kaiser was to be lodged.
The matter should be settled then and there, not left in abeyance and uncertainty. Lloyd George and Lord Cunliffe 35 Smuts's pleas received powerful support from three of the Prime Minister's most influential Unionist colleagues, Austen Chamberlain, Birkenhead and Milner. 82 Despite the clear authority now invested in him to conclude a deal on reparations, however, Lloyd George stood out firmly against his colleagues, invoking Cunliffe's figures in justification of his own stand. At different times on the same day, Cunliffe and Keynes called on Lloyd George in his flat, Keynes to plead for moderate figures, Cunliffe to counsel rejection of the German counter-offer,83 which, he wrote to the Prime Minister on 1 June, `should not be entertained'.
While maintaining solidarity with Clemenceau on such common interests as reparations, therefore, he pursued an underlying policy of gradual disengagement from the Entente. His vanishing trick in the matter of the treaty of alliance ± now you see it, now you don't ± Lloyd George at the Paris Peace Conference 19 left him liberty of action for the future. Henceforth he could exert British influence as he chose, whether on the side of France or of Germany. A chastened Clemenceau later taxed him to his face with turning against France the moment the war was over.