Lord Palmerston signs the Treaty of London

The Treaty guaranteed the independence of the new country of Belgium and Palmerston, the Foreign Secretary in Lord Melbourne’s government, aimed to use an independent Belgium to prevent France from expanding into the Low Countries. Palmerston was also instrumental in persuading the other European powers, including Austria, France, Russia and Prussia to make Belgium permanently neutral. The Treaty was to prove crucial in the debates of the Liberal Cabinet in 1914. German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg found it incredible that Britain and Germany could go to war over a mere ‘scrap of paper’, however the Treaty and the guarantee of Belgian neutrality proved crucial in swinging those in favour of Britain staying out of the war led by Lloyd George into supporting the war with Germany and Austria.