What if: The day Argentina retook the Falklands

In London, the reaction was bedlam. In a packed House of Commons, David Cameron promised he would stop at nothing ‘to get our islands back’.

But already cracks were forming. On the streets of London, anarchist protesters chanted ‘Give Them Back!’

And on the floor of the Commons, Labour’s Ed Miliband told MPs that Britain should not fire a single shot without the approval of the United Nations.

By the middle of April, Mr Cameron had given his approval to the formation of a task force to retake the Falklands. But already it was obvious that it would be a far more desperate undertaking than it had been under Mrs Thatcher.

Without Harrier jump jets or aircraft carriers, the Prime Minister’s naval chiefs explained, the mission would be hazardous to say the least.

What was more, the national mood had never been more divided, and even the battle for public opinion would be a close-run thing.

When Mr Cameron told the Royal Navy to go ahead anyway, the Lib Dem Environment Secretary, Chris Huhne, walked out of the Cabinet. But that was now the least of the Coalition’s worries.