Visiting Parliamentary Fellowship Seminar Series

Visiting Parliamentary Fellowship Seminar Series

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




Convenors: Baroness Simone Finn and Lord Jon Mendelsohn

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

16 January

‘How Did Things Ever Get So Far?’ The Long and Winding Road to Brexit


  •       Baroness Simone Finn (Conservative, St Antony’s Visiting Parliamentary Fellow)
  •       Lord Jon Mendelsohn (Labour, St Antony’s Visiting Parliamentary Fellow)
  •       Lord Norman Lamont PC (Conservative, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1990-1993)
  •       Baroness Julie Smith (Liberal Democrat, Director of the European Centre, Cambridge University)

23 January

Tales from the War Rooms: The Brexit Referendum 2016

  • Nick Varley (Ground manager of the 'Leave' campaign)
  • Will Straw (former executive director of Britain Stronger in Europe)
  • Tim Shipman (Sunday Times political editor and author of 'All Out War' and 'Fall Out')

30 January

Building A New Jerusalem: Are British Institutions Up to the Brexit Challenge?

Francis Maude (Minister for the Cabinet Office, 2010-2015)

Peter Riddell (Journalist and Commissioner for Public Appointments)

Gillian Peele (Emeritus Professor in Politics and Tutorial Fellow, Lady Margaret Hall)

6 February

Nationalism, Populism, and the New Europe

Peter Kellner (Journalist and former President of YouGov)

Gisela Stuart (Chair of the Vote Leave Campaign Committee;  MP for Edgbaston, 1997-2017)

Nick Timothy (Joint Chief of Staff for Theresa May, 2016-2017)

14 February

[no session, parliamentary recess]

20 February

The UK in the World: Rise or Decline of an Independent Britain?

Baroness Catherine Ashton (High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and First Vice President of the European Commission in the Barroso Commission from 2009 to 2014)

Jonathan Freedland (Columnist for The Guardian)

27 February

The New Relationship: EU Negotiations and the Interim Agreement

George Bridges (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, 2016-2017)

Henry Newman (Director of Open Europe)

Hartmut Mayer (Director of European Studies Centre, St Antony's College)

William Wallace (Lib-Dem Lords Spokesman on Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, 2015-2016)

Final Session:

17 May 2018


Michael Gove M.P.

   Secretary of State for the Environment

Chris Bryant M.P.

   Former Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

Ian Birrell

   Contributing Editor, 'Mail on Sunday'


     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 2016-2017 are Baroness Simone Finn (Conservative) and Lord (Jon) Mendelson (Labour).


Visiting Parliamentary Fellowship Events

There are currently no upcoming events.