Winston Churchill, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, appointed
Boothby as his parliamentary private secretary, a post he held
for three years.
was a frequent visitor to Germany and in 1932 met Adolf Hitler.
He was later to record that "I talked with Hitler for over
an hour; and it was not long before I detected the unmistakable
glint of madness in his eyes." Boothby came out of the
meeting convinced that Hitler posed a serious threat to Britain's
1933 Boothby made a speech where he warned: "If those of
us who believe in freedom refuse to fight for our faith under
any circumstances, then assuredly we will succumb to the military
forces of Fascism or Communism, and most of the things which
seem to make life worth living will be swept away."
joined a small group in the Conservative Party, including Winston
Churchill and Leo Amery, that called for the government to increase
spending on defence. In one speech Boothby suggested that the
British government was in danger of betraying those soldiers
who had been killed during the First World War. "In relation
to the facts of the present situation our Air Force is pitifully
inadequate. If we are strong and resolute, and if we pursue
a wise and constructive foreign policy, we can still save the
world from war. But if we simply drift along, never taking the
lead, and exposing the heart of our Empire to an attack which
might pulverize it in a few hours, then everything that makes
life worth living will be swept away, and then indeed we shall
have finally broken faith with those who lie dead in the fields
1938 Boothby became the first person in public life to demand
the introduction of compulsory national service. He followed
this with a campaign to persuade Neville Chamberlain and his
Conservative government to increase the frontline strength of
the Royal Air Force from 1700 to 3500. However, both these suggestions
were rejected by Chamberlain.
returned to office in 1940 when Winston Churchill appointed
him as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Ministry of Food.
Boothby worked under Lord Woolton and was given responsibility
for devising the National Milk Scheme, which provided milk for
children and nursing mothers during the Second World War.
Boothby was forced to resign after a Select Committee published
a critical report of his behaviour before the war. The committee
pointed out that Boothby had made a speech where he advocated
the distribution of seized Czechoslovakian assets to Czech citizens
living in Britain. It was claimed that this broke the rules
of the House of Commons as Boothby had not disclosed that he
had a financial interest in this policy.
from office Boothby joined the Royal Air Force. After completing
his training as a pilot officer he became Adjutant of Number
9 Bomber Squadron at Honington with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.
Boothby became an original member of the Council of United Europe
and was a British delegate to its consultative assembly (1949-54).
was knighted in 1953 and raised to the peerage in 1958. He was
also Rector of the University of St Andrews (1958-61) and Chairman
of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (1961-63).