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Churchill Almost Banned From Britain's Currency

Image: Churchill Almost Banned From Britain's Currency

By Jim Meyers   |   Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013 11:50 AM

Bank of England officials reportedly came close to banning Sir Winston Churchill from the face of a new 5-pound note they plan to issue in 2016 because they didn't want to upset the Germans.

Previously classified documents obtained by Britain's Daily Mail include a memo dated April 11, 2012, from officials to Mervyn King, then governor of the Bank. They warn that the "recentness of World War II is a living memory for many here and on the Continent," and note that Churchill's wartime record could make him a highly controversial choice for the bill.

Other comments relating to Britain's relationship with its former enemies have been redacted from the files.

A source at the Bank told the Mail: "Public bodies are obliged to redact any material which might impact on Britain's international relations with another country, and this is what has happened here."

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Churchill's biographer Andrew Roberts said the redacted comments "would have been about irritating the Germans," but "I don't think a German or Japanese tourist would be in the slightest bit put off by the fact there is Churchill on a 5-pound note."

Officials also warned Mervyn King of Churchill's "disastrous" decision as Chancellor of the Exchequer to return Britain to the gold standard in the 1920s. Churchill's critics claimed the move produced mass unemployment, deflation, and industrial strife in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

The globally revered Churchill has never been a favorite of Britain's elites. Churchill was tossed from 10 Downing Street after being defeated in parliamentary elections at the end of World War II.

In the 1990s, the Labor government under Tony Blair moved to remove almost any mention of Churchill from school curriculums.

The newly disclosed Bank documents also show that bank staff conducted a background check on "Pride and Prejudice" novelist Jane Austen, who will appear on a new 10-pound note, to assure that there were "no issues in her private life."

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 Austen's 10-pound note will debut in 2017.

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