From Britain at War with the Asante Nation, 1823–1900: “The White Man’s Grave” by Stephen Manning (Pen & Sword Books, 2021), Kindle pp. 201-202:
A change of government saw the appointment of Joseph Chamberlain as the new Colonial Secretary. Chamberlain was arguably the most expansionist secretary the Colonial Office had ever seen, and he was a devotee of all the political intrigue that surrounded the Scramble for Africa. He saw events in Asante as being part of the process by which Britain would extend its influence and empire. Chamberlain had anticipated a French challenge into Asante and this he was not going to permit. Thus, he latched onto [Gold Coast Governor] Maxwell’s proposal and replied by cable in September 1895 that [Asante King] Prempeh must be told that the government now expected the 1874 treaty to be met and honoured in full. In addition, he informed Maxwell that Prempeh must also be told that Asante must refrain from attacking neighbouring tribes and that he had to accept a British resident at Kumasi. Crucially, Chamberlain was prepared to back his words with military intervention.
This tougher stance was fully supported by the British Chamber of Commerce as well as many of the British newspapers. For example, The Times of 21 January 1896 claimed that Asante had long formed a block of savagery between the British coast and the interior. This had prevented trade and that the French were taking advantage of the situation by opening their own markets, which may now be lost to Britain.
On receiving Chamberlain’s instructions, the governor despatched Vroom to Kumasi with an ultimatum for Prempeh which required of him either a written reply or a personal interview with the governor before the end of October. Although treated with courtesy, Vroom received no direct answer from Prempeh, and he returned to the coast. It seems Prempeh was putting all his hope in his deputation that had been sent to London and he sent a sword bearer and court crier to the coast to inform the British that he was awaiting a response from his messengers to Queen Victoria. As no written response was received to the ultimatum it was taken by Maxwell, Scott and Chamberlain as a rejection. Maxwell had already informed Scott that he would be in command of the proposed military expedition and preparations were well under way.
Chamberlain had already warned the Cabinet in November 1895 that private enterprise was now inadequate for opening Britain’s vast ‘underdeveloped estates’, and that the government must lead the way with money and troops. Without consulting the prime minister, he announced a punitive expedition to Asante.