This chapter is predominantly an analysis of high politics and the role of key individual politicians, who directed and influenced British foreign policy decisions from the period of 1846 to 1859. The chapter mainly focuses on these key politicians, their ideas and policies, and the relationships between them and deals with the mid-Victorian political world as revealed by the available evidence. The ‘politics of foreign policy’ constitutes a helpful shorthand description for three different but fundamentally interlinked aspects of diplomatic and political history: the ministerial direction of foreign policy; intra-party debate about foreign policy; and the place of foreign policy in wider political debates. Thus, this chapter examines Britain as a European power and its primary role until the late 1860s.
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