23 December 2019
Last Monday morning following the British General Election, Michel Barnier, the official leading the EU team negotiating tweeted that he was reading Professor Julian Jackson’s biography of General de Gaulle. Julian is Professor of Modern French History and his acclaimed biography has recently appeared in a French translation. The book has enjoyed extensive coverage in France where it is amongst the bestselling books of the year. Barnier belongs to a Gaullist family and met the General. In 1978 he was elected as a deputy to the French National Assembly as a Gaullist. His beautifully crafted message on Monday used the biography to meditate on the Gaullist lessons for this extraordinary episode in international relations: “My convictions our future relationship with the UK must not only have in memory last century’s brutal history, but look ahead to enormous global challenges to save our climate, defend an open international order and common security.” De Gaulle is of course best remembered in the UK for his veto of the British entry to the EEC in 1963 on the grounds that his experience as an exile in London, 1940-1944, convinced him that Britain could never be truly part of Europe. Jackson’s biography has won several prizes in the UK and it appeared in paperback earlier this summer.