Visiting Parliamentary Fellowship Seminar Series: COUNTDOWN TO BREXIT

Visiting Parliamentary Fellowship Seminar Series: COUNTDOWN TO BREXIT

Hilary Term 2018 - Thursdays from 17:00-18:45, Investcorp Auditorium


Current parliamentary conditions have made it difficult to put together the normal complete programme for Hilary Term,   Understandably, several members of both houses of parliament have felt unable to give definite commitments to particular sessions.   But we are working on this, and ask everyone to keep a watch out for the programme as it develops.   We shall post each session on the website as soon as we finalise it.   And, as last year, we may run over into early Trinity Term.   We are grateful to Lords Bridges and Wood for their sterling work in assembling the programme.   The definite sessions are listed below.

Convenors: Lord George Bridges and Lord Stewart Wood

St Antony's convenors: Professor Timothy Power and Professor Robert Service

17 January



Lord George BRIDGES (former Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the EU)

Lord Stewart WOOD (House of Lords International Relations Committee)

Prof. Anand Menon (King's College London)


24 January



Lord Andrew ADONIS


in conversation with



31 January


Sir Ivan Rogers (former UK Permanent Representative to the EU)


28 February


Damian GREEN M.P. (former First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office)

Lord Nick McPHERSON (former Permanent Secretary of HM Treasury)

Ambassador Torbjorn SOHLSTROM (Sweden)


     This seminar series is open to the public.

     Queries may be addressed to:


Although St Antony's has always included many Fellows and students with an interest in contemporary politics and world affairs, a notable addition to the College's activities was launched in May 1993 when the Governing Body approved a proposal to create a Visiting Parliamentary Fellowship. The idea was that two Members of Parliament - one from the governing party and the other from one of the main opposition parties - would be elected to the Fellowship each year. The hope, which has been fully realised, was that they would visit the College regularly and in one term help to organise a seminar on important political matters.

The origins of the Fellowship were a chance encounter between Patrick (now Lord Patrick) Cormack, MP, and Professor Archie Brown in Moscow in January 1991 which led to the idea that there would be intellectual benefits for both sides if an academic relationship between Parliament and the College could be established. Once the question of the modest amount of funding needed to launch the enterprise had been resolved, the idea took off.

Over the years, the Visiting Parliamentary Fellows have included such notable former Cabinet Ministers as the Rt Hon. Gillian Shephard, MP, the Rt Hon. Sir Brian Mawhinney, MP, and the Rt Hon. Ann Taylor, MP. Three influential Chairmen of House of Commons Committees - Donald Anderson, MP (Foreign Affairs Committee), Dr Tony Wright, MP (Public Administration Committee) and Martin O'Neill, MP (Trade and Industry Committee) have been among the Fellows. In addition to these very senior parliamentarians, those elected have included also several of the brightest of the younger Members, among them Dr Calum MacDonald, MP (Labour), Alan Duncan, MP (Conservative) and Charles Kennedy, MP (Liberal Democrat).   In recent years, as the pressure on MPs from the whips' offices grew, the programme increasingly turned to the House of Lords for its Parliamentary Fellows.   Among them have been some of the country's most distinguished political figures:  David Trimble, David Steel, Alex Carlile and Des Browne.

A tradition rapidly developed that in Hilary Term - on Tuesdays at 5 p.m. - the two Visiting Parliamentary Fellows would, along with the St Antony's Governing Body Fellow who co-ordinates the Fellowship, put on a seminar that brought together politicians and academics. The format involves three speakers, whose presentations would take a maximum of twenty minutes each, and then the floor is opened for questions and general discussion.

The unifying theme of the seminar each term is invariably a broad one with a current global importance, and it cuts across all Centre boundaries. It is by far from unusual for the 150-seat lecture theatre to be full, or almost full, for these events. Speakers in Hilary Term 2004 included no fewer than three former British Foreign Secretaries. The annual series is aimed at tackling the mix of contentious domestic and international issues that have attracted attention in both parliament and the unviesities.

Many of the MPs have in the other two terms convened informal seminars for any St Antony's students wishing to take part, and several of them have arranged for groups of students from the College to visit the House of Commons. The Parliamentarians' presence in the College (from late Tuesday afternoon until after High Table that evening) has helped to keep resident Antonians in touch with the politics of the 'real world' and it has given the MPs access to arguments that, at their best, are more analytical and also based on more specialised knowledge, than they would generally encounter in the Commons. Other advantages to both sides include the fact that some of the MPs have consulted specialists in one or other of the College Centres when they wished to better briefed on a particular country, while our Parliamentary Fellows have, for example, helped out when graduate students in this most international of Oxford Colleges have encountered excessive delays in the renewal of visas. Former Visiting Parliamentary Fellows have also hosted social events in the House of Commons for London-based Antonians.

From the launch of the Fellowship in 1993 until 2005 the Governing Body's convenor was Archie Brown. From the 2005 till 2008, he was succeeded by Dr Alex Pravda. From academic year 2008-9, the co-convenor was Professor Robert Service, who was succeeded by Dr Tim Power in 2015.   Professor David Marquand and Dr Phyllis Starkey, both of whom are former MPs, have also served as valuable co-convenors.

Our current Visiting Parliamentary Fellows for 2018-2019 are Lord (George) Bridges (Conservative) and Lord (Stewart) Wood (Labour).


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