Gladstone’s Invasion of Egypt, 1882

Maurice Shock explains how Gladstone, a deeply moralistic and liberal statesman, came to embark along the path of intervention, conquest and occupation.

In the spring of 1880, Gladstone took office as Prime Minister, for the second time, in an atmosphere of violent and passionate controversy.

He had delivered a root-and-branch denunciation of the foreign policy of Beaconsfield and Salisbury that, at the height of the Midlothian Campaign, had taken on the character of a moral crusade.

In his attack he had upheld the claims of justice and morality to be observed in international relations; expediency and what he called the “new and base idolatry” of national interests were condemned.

In their place he put forward a policy “obeying the dictates of honour and justice” which, promoted by Britain, would be backed by the action of the Powers, united in the Concert of Europe.

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