In terms of industrial strength yes. But as someone pointed out, when one considers the output of Britains occupied territories, then I wouldn't be so sure. The main problem for Britain was the shipping of material from the occupied territories to Britain itself, hence the need for the Royal Navy. But while Germany enjoyed a large industrial strength, Britain still commanded the "ballance of power" within the European continent and the social influence of Britain on both the continent and the world was still far greater than Germany's ever would be.
I would disagree.
The empire was divided into two halfs - the colonies and the dominions.
South Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were all self governing and their output can't be classed as "British".
Of course all of them rallied to the flag in 1914 & 1939 but that doesn't change the fact that they were ALLIES not an extention of Britain.
The empire, contrary to polular belief, wasn't a huge money making exercise. Most of it lost money (the principle reason for it collapsing so rapidly after WWII BTW) and a lot of it was just claimed just to increase the ammount of "red" on a world map. India was the "Jewel In The Crown" - it was the great wealth creator (Malaya too for rubber). The colonies were just a source of raw materials really - giving Britain no more economic power than Siberia gave the USSR (except that factories couldn't be shifted there from Britain and the routes top the empire were always threatened by hostile seapower).
Fair enough, we'll have to disagree on the output of the British Empire. But lets be honest. The colonies and the dominions were under British control and if nesscessary their economic output could be used in Britains favor, by Britain. They were as independent as far as Britain wanted them to be. Especially in the case of the African and Indian colonies. By the 20th Century this was changing from the 19th Century view of things, of course. But Britain in the 1940's considered the occupied colonies and the Dominions, with the exceptions of Austrailia and Canada perhaps, as hers. Make no mistake. And as far as the Empire losing money. This was a long slope on a downward scale. But what really did for the British Empire was Churchill's prosecution of his war against Germany and the shipping of the entire British gold reserve to the US. Also, after WWII the idea that foreign Countries should remain under occupation in an Empire by a Country who ostensibly fought to free Countries from the German Empire was untenible. Put that context in tandem with the rise of US power after WWII and British influence was doomed to be replaced be the US, which is how world history played out after the aftermath of WWII.
Germany was getting bigger and it was scaring Britain who felt that her "top dog" status in Europe was being threatened which is why she started a war with Germany, this I don't disagree with at all. I wonder, if Chamberlain had the foresight to see that Hitler wanted nothing to do with Britain and her Empire at all and his war aims were all towards the East, would he have still declared war? I think not.
I think this notion is fundamentally flawed.
What if Britain and France did nothing about the German invasion of Poland?
Germany could still invade Norway - does Britain and France still do nothing?
How about invading the Balkans & Greece to support Italy - still nothing?
Germany invades the USSR and probably wins - still nothing?
A Wehrmacht numbering a couple of hundred divisions & thousands of combat aircraft.....controls the Urals to the Rhine. Sweden and Switzerland come under pressure to join the axis....
Make no mistake, Hitler would've come West sooner or later and by 1950 German power would be untouchable by Britain and France.
What Hitler was hoping for was that Britain and France WOULD indeed do "nothing" about Poland. In fact he didn't really believe that they would actually declare war. Especially without the support of Russia, who was now in the German camp as it were. But most people saw through that for what it was. So with Britain and France condeming Germany's invasion of Poland, but NOT declaring war, the scene is set for the European war between Germany and Russia. Which is almost a given with Hitler and Stalin at the helm of each respective Country. This struggle could play out in a number of ways, but without Britain's declaration of war, there would be no
invasion of Norway. Hitler invaded Norway to forstall the British, not because he wanted to occupy the area. He actually prefered them neutral. Norway was shipping iron ore to Germany through Narvik from Sweden's galivare Iron ore fields, during the winter Months. It was this that the British wanted to stop. So no British interest in the area, no German interest in the area. Also, there would be no occupation of Belgium, France, Denmark etc. Hitler's focus, without the interlude in the West, could be entirely upon Russia.
Also, without Britain's declaration of war on Germany. Italy would not have declared war of Britain in 1940, when they saw how well the Battle of France was going in Germany's favor. Likewise, it may have tendered caution to Mussolini in regards to his territorial aspirations too. As to a large degree, it was Germany's stunning successes that gave Mussolini the "balls" to think that the Italian army could be the instrument for his own "blitzkrieg" in the Med.
But Italy's actions doesn't mean that Germany would automatically lend support to Mussolini in North Africa, as Britain would not have declared war upon her. So even with an Italian defeat in North Africa, a confrontation with Britain and Germany still does not have to be.
Sweden or Switzerland DON'T have to come under any pressure at all from Germany as Hitler's sole enemy is the Soviet Union. Which frankly, many Country's would support in lieu of a British declaration of war. Theres simply no need for Hitler to combine those twn Nations into the Reich. Rather what would actually happen would be a greater foreign volunteer for the Waffen SS from different Nations in a combined war against Russia. Imagine how many more people from Holland and Denmark etc would join up to fight the "Red menace".
Your "Hitler turning West" will not happen because there is no need for Hitler to turn West, he had no interest in it. And with the protracted war in Russia, this is nulled even further. What would happen is a Vietnam style situation for Germany in Russia, whereby both Country's bleed each other to a standstill or an uneasy peace.
Either way theres no Western European war, or consequently a World war without Britain's declaration of war on September 3rd 1939.