Jonathan Parry

Jonathan Parry is a professor of history at Cambridge. Promised Lands: The British and the Ottoman Middle East has just been published.

If we see​ Anglo-French relations functioning in different ways in different geopolitical contexts – Atlantic, Mediterranean and domestic – this may provide some comfort as we confront the post-Brexit situation. The Brexiters’ shrill rejection of Theresa May’s deal with the European Union, which aimed at preventing costly trade friction and at preserving the integrity of the UK, led to the defenestration of most of the Conservative Party’s foreign policy experts: Ken Clarke, David Gauke, Oliver Letwin, David Lidington and Rory Stewart. With them went the liberal Tory realist tradition of foreign policy which had been a constant of British statecraft since it became a world power. Instead we are in the hands of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the minister for Brexit opportunities, who told us last autumn that ‘the French are always grumpy in October, the anniversaries of Trafalgar and Agincourt.’ The reality, however, is that two countries which share a long frontier and common pursuits have many reasons to co-operate day to day. 

To Serve My Friends

Jonathan Parry, 27 January 2022

Oliver Dowden​, the co-chairman of the Conservative Party, appeared twice on the Today programme late last year. First, on 15 November, he answered questions about his party’s handling of the corruption allegations against the MP Owen Paterson, and then again on 17 December, he discussed the loss of Paterson’s North Shropshire seat at the by-election necessitated by...

Angelic Porcupine: Adams’s Education

Jonathan Parry, 3 June 2021

Threebooks made me fall in love with the dynamics of history: The Forsyte Saga, Buddenbrooks and The Education of Henry Adams. I discovered Adams’s autobiography last, when it headed the preparatory reading list, alphabetically organised, that I was sent in advance of arriving at university. (I still haven’t got round to the other autobiography in the As, Saint...

Managing the Nation

Jonathan Parry, 18 March 2021

Every step of the Brexit saga has been dictated by the Conservative Party’s struggle to save itself: to prevent voters defecting to the more uncompromising Ukip, and then to check the paralysing internal divisions that arose after the party realised the issue would not go away. It’s pointless to complain that its tactics have put ‘party before country’; most party members do not see the distinction. In fact, they are not good at making distinctions more generally. The Brexiters never resolved the fundamental tensions within their project, between global free-market aspiration and protective nativism, and between an outward-facing nationalism and an internal unionism. They also refused to tolerate Theresa May’s attempts, as a cautious Remainer but devoted party loyalist, to paper over the cracks by making careful and defensive policy compromises, based around membership of the customs union. The aim was to save the union with Northern Ireland, and as many trade benefits as were compatible with leaving the single market. Johnson has chosen instead to paper over the cracks by denying that most of the difficulties exist, except at a petty technical level which time will resolve.

A Regular Grey

Jonathan Parry, 3 December 2020

Tohave one brother killed by an African animal would be a misfortune. To lose two, at different times, is surely remarkable. Such was the distinction of Sir Edward Grey, who served as foreign secretary from 1905 to 1916. A lion got his brother George, who was hunting in British East Africa in 1911: excited for the kill, he galloped too near his prey, missed and was mauled. Charles, having...

Swank and Swagger: Deals with the Pasha

Ferdinand Mount, 26 May 2022

The Ottoman regime allowed the British considerable latitude so long as they didn’t directly threaten Ottoman interests. The British themselves only slowly realised quite how lucky they were in having...

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What Gladstone did

G.R. Searle, 24 February 1994

This impressive study of Victorian politics is built around a challenging thesis: that Gladstone, far from being the creator of the Liberal Party, was in fact a maverick who stumbled into the...

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Sacred Crows

John Skorupski, 1 September 1983

The culture, of the first fifty years or so of this century – ‘Modernism’ – comes increasingly to be seen in historical perspective: as a period of the past with its own...

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