In John Bew’s biography of Clement Attlee he describes the efforts of the Labour leadership to get the post-war America administration fully engaged with the concept of defending Western Europe from Soviet tyranny. Ernest Bevin, trade unionist and Foreign Secretary, acted when George Marshall, appointed US Secretary of State in early 1947, spoke in June of that year of the need to assist Europe in its economic recovery.

“Bevin,” writes Bew, “seizing the opportunity, became the champion of what was known as the Marshall Plan. Attlee believed that it was his foreign secretary’s greatest achievement to run with, and reinterpret, Marshall’s ideas in a way that suited British interests.”

Bew the historian is an Atlanticist who now serves as Boris Johnson’s advisor on foreign affairs.