23 May 2018, The Tablet

I may be wrong but I do not think we will face a great constitutional confrontation

Peter Hennessy's The Lion and the Unicorn


I am writing these words in Orkney, overlooking Scapa Flow. From here almost 102 years ago, the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet set out to confront the Kaiser’s High Seas Fleet off the coast of Jutland in the greatest sea battle the world had ever seen. As Winston Churchill famously said of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, the Grand Fleet’s commander, he was the only man who could lose the war in a single afternoon if the German fleet broke Jellicoe’s Dreadnoughts (which, mercifully, they did not).

On a bright spring day in 2018, these are the serenest of waters; hard to believe that this place was the geopolitical pivot of the world in May 1916.

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