‘No more coals to Newcastle, no more Hoares to Paris,’ was how King George V welcomed Anthony Eden as the new Foreign Secretary following the news of Britain’s rejection of the Hoare-Laval Pact, which had sanctioned Italy’s annexation of Abyssinia, and effectively ended the authority of the League of Nations.
Samuel Hoare would now appear to have previous with Benito Mussolini. As well as being responsible for coining one of the King’s most memorable political quotations, he apparently financed Mussolini, then a journalist, paying him £100/week (the equivalent of £6,000/week in today’s money) to argue for Italy’s continued involvement in the First World War. Hoare, later the Foreign Secretary, was at the time Britain’s man in Rome.
Mussolini, who wished to maintain Italy’s involvement in the war, would use former soldiers to act as vigilantes against those who wished to see Italy withdraw from the war.
Within just a few short years Mussolini came to power as Italy’s fascist dictator, backed by his black shirts.
This reminds me of the stories surrounding Peter Bessell, the Liberal MP for Bodmin, who was apparently, according to his memoirs, both a CIA and BOSS agent during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. You wonder quite what intelligence either of these two would have gathered for their paymasters!
More on this story about on Mussolini can be seen in The Guardian.