What choices will the next UK foreign secretary face?

A conversation with Chatham House director Brownen Maddox, Olivia O’Sullivan, and Shashank Joshi (defence editor of The Economist) about the future of British foreign policy after the next general elections. I argued that a drastically changed geopolitical environment pushes UK and Europeans closer together.

A critical friend: Helene von Bismarck on Britain and the World

I spoke to Podcaster and former British diplomat Arthur Snell about my intellectual journey of discovering the United Kingdom from the outside, British and German blind spots, and why the last few years in UK politics contain a lesson for those of us who are concerned about the future of liberal democracy across Europe and the United States.

In Europe we can’t help laughing at David Cameron’s return – but we welcome it too

In an incredible turn of events, David Cameron is back. The man who gambled his country’s future to end a dispute in his party by calling the Brexit referendum is now in charge of Britain’s foreign policy. Once you stop laughing at the irony of this appointment, it could actually be good news from a European point of view.

Why did it take a murderous war on Ukraine for Germany to wake up to the threat from Russia?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered a public debate in Germany about the future of its security policy, and about its relations with Central and Eastern Europe. Historic arguments about the Second World War and the Cold War play an important role in this discussion.

For Hamburg, devastated by allied bombing, King Charles’ visit is so much more than a photo-op

St Nikolai Church in Hamburg, built by an English architect, was destroyed during the so-called ‘Operation Gomorrha’, a series of allied air raids against Hamburg in 1943. For King Charles III to visit this memorial during his first state visit abroad is a very significant and much appreciated gesture. At a time when politicians all over the world like to pick and choose from history with the sole purpose of suiting their narratives, it matters.

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.

Brexit or chaos: No-Deal is a devastating option

Essay for the opinion pages of Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel. The Brexit negitiations are entering their decisive stage this fall. Even if the EU27 and the British Government overcome their considerable differences, the situation is complicated by the bitter divisions in the House of Commons. A No-Deal Brexit is in nobody’s interest, but this does not make it any less likely.

Remember this: Brexit is not Germany’s priority

Comment in The Times Red Box on Germany’s position in the Brexit negotiations after the publication of Theresa May’s Chequers proposal. Co-published with The UK in a Changing Europe.

More pragmatism than conviction: Margaret Thatcher and European Integration

On 22 June 2018, Helene gave a paper about Margaret Thatcher’s European policy at the Britian and the World Conference held at the University of Exeter (UK). This was part of a panel Helene had organized about ‘British Conservatism and the European Community.’ The other speakers were Dr. Oliver Daddow (University of Nottingham), Dr. Mark Garnett (University of Lancaster) and Dr. David Shiels (Cambridge University).

The 68th Anglo-German Königswinter Conference

Analysis of the 68th Königswinter Conference, convened in Oxford on 12-14 April 2018. Focus: the post-Brexit Anglo-German relationship. Participants: British and German stakeholders in politics, business, the press and civil society.

Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society

Helene has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (F.R.Hist.S.), in recognition of her contribution to historical scholarship.

War metaphors have no place in the Brexit debate

Comment in The Times Red Box on the use of historical analogies in the Brexit debate. Co-published with The UK in a Changing Europe.

Brexit and the Anglo-German Relationship

Op-ed for History & Policy on the mutual misunderstanding between Germany and Britain regarding European integration.

Rhetoric and Reality: Margaret Thatcher, Jacques Delors and European Integration during the 1980s

Lecture at the Cabinet Office during their annual ‘History Week’. Whitehall, London, November 2016.

Cameron hat ein verantwortungsloses Spiel gespielt

Interview with Spiegel Online on the day after the EU Referendum about the origins of British Euroscepticism.

Britain’s Return ‘East of Suez’

Essay for The Imperial and Global Forum on the historical origins of Britain’s decision to extend and consolidate its military presence in the Persian Gulf.

Margaret Thatcher: The critical architect of European integration

Essay for The UK in a Changing Europe, providing historical context to the debate between Tories Lord Powell and Lord Tebbit about Margaret Thatcher’s likely stance on Brexit.