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In the course of his momentous speech in the House on August 3, Sir Edward Grey said : ” We felt strongly that France was entitled to know and to know at once whether or not in the event of attack upon her unprotected northern and western coasts she could depend upon British support. In that emergency and in these compelling circumstances yesterday afternoon I gave to the French Ambassador the following statement : ‘ I am authorised to give an assurance that, if the German Fleet comes into the Channel or through the North Sea to undertake hostile operations against French coasts or shipping, the British Fleet will give all the protection in its power.
This assurance is, of course, subject to the policy of his Majesty’s Government receiving the support of Parliament, and must not be taken as binding his Majesty’s Government to take any action until the above contingency or action of the German Fleet takes place.’ I read that to the House, not as a declaration of war on our part. . . . but as binding us to take aggressive action should that contingency arise …. I understand that the German Government would be prepaied if we would pledge ourselves to neutrality to agree that its Fleet would not attack the northern coast of France. I have only heard that shortly before I came to the House, but it is far too narrow an engagement for us.” A little later he said : ” Mobilisation of the Fleet has taken place ; mobilisation of the Army is taking place.”