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On December 7, 1936, Churchill suffered one of the most humiliating days of his political career when he was shouted down in the House of Commons. During the Abdication Crisis that played out that year, Churchill had been an ardent supporter of King Edward VIII. As the crisis reached its height, Churchill advised the King to resist the Baldwin government’s ultimatum to abandon his plans to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson or abdicate the British throne. On December 6th Churchill issued a statement pleading for the King to be given “time and patience” and on the afternoon of the following day he entered the House of Commons prepared to forcefully champion the cause of Edward VIII. Unfortunately, he entirely misread the mood of the chamber and country, which was pro-Baldwin and anti-King. After a statement by Stanley Baldwin, Churchill rose to ask a question. His first words of “May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he could give us an assurance that no irrevocable step” were met with angry shouts of “Sit down!” from all sides of the House. The hostile reception appeared to shake Churchill who glanced around the chamber before trying to proceed. The shouts and interruptions continued with further cries of “’You’re making a speech” and “Sit down!” The Speaker rose to direct Churchill to confine himself to a question. He tried to continue and said “I am grateful for what the right hon. Gentleman has said, but I ask that there should be an assurance that no irrevocable decision will be taken until at least a statement has been made to Parliament of the constitutional issues involved, and of the procedure involved in such an event …” The chamber was in an uproar with shouts of “Order” and the Speaker finally ruled that Churchill was insisting on going beyond a simple question and cut him off for good and moved on to the next member’s question. “Red faced” and routed, Churchill sat down.  Leo Amery observed that Churchill was “completely staggered by the unanimous hostility of the House,” while Harold Nicholson record that Churchill had “undone in five minutes the patient reconstruction works of two years.” Edward VIII abdicated on December 11, 1936 after a reign of 327 days.

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