Jonathan Parry, 21 April 2022
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.