‘True knowledge is knowledge of why things are as they are, and not merely what they are.’

Isaiah Berlin

Dr. Helene von Bismarck, F.R.Hist.S.

Helene von Bismarck is a historian, writer and public speaker. Her main interest is Britain’s role in international relations during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Helene’s first book explored the connections between oil and imperialism in the Persian Gulf during the 1960s. With her new research project about Margaret Thatcher and Jacques Delors, Helene has moved on from the empire to another contentious topic of Britain’s history: its relationship with the European Union. Helene’s fascination with the past motivates her dedication to the present. She has published numerous essays providing historical context to current affairs, addressed academic and non-academic audiences around the world, and acted as a commentator in the press and on television.

Shutting down parliament is worse than a coup. It’s a mistake.

Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament in the middle of a significant national crisis has provoked outrage at home and abroad. Leaving the consitutional implications aside, this article argues that Johnson made a significant strategic mistake with this decision. He may have hoped to bully both the EU27 and Parliament into accepting a deal of his choosing, but, instead, he has united the British opposition against him.

Brexit, Boris Johnson and the EU. (Channel 4 News)

Interview with Matt Frei on Channel 4 News on 4 July 2019 about the Tory leadership contest, Boris Johnson, and Brexit. Details

Das Klischee vom ewigen Störenfried

Is the drama about Brexit just the culmination of a British EU-membership that has always been doomed to fail? This article for the Swiss Republik magazine argues that this is not the case. The frustrations about Brexit are no excuse for a selective reading of history. It is time to dispense with the stereotypes and allow for a more nuanced view of Britain’s historic role in the European integration process.

Two countries in search of their role: a history of the Anglo-German Königswinter Conferences

Since 1950, politicians, high-ranking officials, business people and influential journalists from Britain and Germany have met annually at theKönigswinter Conferences for a frank, informal and confidential exchange of views. This essay discusses the relevance of these conferences for the Anglo-German relationship. Published by Deutsch-Britische Gesellschaft.

Brexit Blitz spirit: Why does it always come back to the war?

Interview with Channel 4 News about the popularity of World War 2 references in the Brexit debate. The use of inappropriate historical analogies is not just offensive to the EU27, it is also severely damaging to the quality of the inner-British debate about Brexit. No matter how complicated the Brexit negitiations may be, nothing justifies comparing them to a state of war.

Merkel’s retreat is a major shift for Germany, not for Brexit

Essay for the Thinktank The UK in a Changing EU about the implications of the CDU-leadership race for Brexit and the Anglo-German relationship. No matter which candidate succeeds in taking over from Merkel, be it Fridrich Merz, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer or Jens Spahn, it will not make a difference for the Withdrawal Agreement that the British Government must conclude with the EU27 by March 2019 to avoid a No Deal Brexit. It is in the long term that Germany’s political future becomes relevant for Britain, because the candidates’ different conceptions of European integration will shape the EU Britain will be negotiating its future trade and security relationship with.