A treaty too far? Britain, France, and concorde, 1961-1964

Johnman, Lewis and Lynch, Frances M.B. (2002) A treaty too far? Britain, France, and concorde, 1961-1964. Twentieth Century British History, 13 (3). pp. 253-276. ISSN 0955-2359

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/tcbh/13.3.253


The 1964 Labour government inherited a substantial balance-of-payments deficit. In an effort to deal with the attendant economic crisis, the government sought to cancel a number of costly, high-prestige projects, including the Franco-British supersonic airliner Concorde. When the possible ramifications of this were considered, however, it was discovered that the agreement covering the aircraft was not commercial but carried the full force of an international treaty. The clear implication of this was that a withdrawing party could be subject to heavy financial penalties. Cancellation, therefore, it was argued, was likely to cost even more than continuing with the project would. The question remains as to how such a remarkable situation had come about. This article analyses the negotiations between Britain and France concerning Concorde, particularly in the early 1960s, which eventually led to the signing of the treaty in 1962. It examines the political, technological, and economic imperatives which underpinned the negotiations and the relationships between the two governments and their respective aviation industries. It also considers the motives of both the British and French governments in the process, and concludes that in each case that the technological and political motives overrode economic considerations.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Online ISSN 1477-4674
Subjects: University of Westminster > Social Sciences and Humanities
Depositing User: Users 4 not found.
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2005
Last Modified: 05 Nov 2009 10:48
URI: http://westminsterresearch.wmin.ac.uk/id/eprint/203

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