Negotiations on Irish independence from Britain enter their final and crucial stage at Downing Street. The Irish delegates including Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith had returned from an acrimonious cabinet meeting in Dublin where unfortunately clarity did not exist. The negotiators again met with the British team which included Lloyd George and Winston Churchill.
It was an extremely hostile meeting with much debate about the status of the north of Ireland and Loyalist reaction. Minutes of the meeting taken by Irish delegate Robert Barton show the aggressive negotiating style of Lloyd George who stated ‘that he had always taken it that Arthur Griffith spoke for the Delegation’, that we were all plenipotentiaries and that it was now a matter of peace or war and we must each of us make up our minds. He required that every delegate should sign the document and recommend it, or there was no agreement. He said that they as a body had hazarded their political future and we must do likewise and take the same risks. At one time he particularly said very solemnly that those who were not for peace must take full responsibility for the war that would immediately follow refusal by any Delegate to sign the Articles of Agreement.
Prime Minister Lloyd George told Collins that if they did not accede to the treaty which they finally signed in the early hours of the following morning, Britain would recommence hostile activities.
Image | Irish delegation in Hans Place, London on the day after the signing. Lloyd George with his formidable political skill and threat of ‘immediate and terrible war’, had compelled all of the Irish delegation members to sign.