Norway Debate

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The Norway Debate, sometimes called the Narvik Debate, was a famous debate in the British House of Commons that took place in May 1940. It led to the formation of a widely-based National Government led by Winston Churchill which was to govern Britain until the end of World War II in Europe. The debate (on May 7 and 8), ostensibly on the progress of the Norwegian campaign, brought to a head widespread dissatisfaction with the adequacy of the existing government, led by Neville Chamberlain, to the challenges of waging war. In the debate Chamberlain's government was criticised not only by the Opposition but by respected members of his own party. The Opposition forced a vote – effectively a vote of confidence – which the government won with a greatly reduced majority. With over a quarter of Government MPs voting with the opposition or abstaining despite a three line whip it was clear that support for Chamberlain in his own party was crumbling; and (particularly after ill-judged remarks by him in the course of the debate) it was not possible for him to form a coalition with the opposition Labour and Liberal Parties. Two days later Chamberlain resigned and was succeeded as Prime Minister by Churchill.

Background

In 1937 Chamberlain (previously Chancellor of the Exchequer) had succeeded Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister of a National Government, which in fact was overwhelmingly composed of Conservatives. It was opposed by the Labour and Liberal parties; there were small...
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