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Anthony Nutting

Sir Harold Anthony Nutting, 3rd Baronet (11 January 1920 – 24 February 1999) was a British diplomat and Conservative Party politician.


  • Early and private life 1
  • Early political career 2
  • Suez Crisis 3
  • After Suez 4
  • References 5

Early and private life

Nutting was born on 11 January 1920, the son of Sir Harold Stanmore Nutting, 2nd Bt. a wealthy family who owned estates in England and Scotland. He was educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge where he studied agriculture and kept a pack of hounds.

When World War II broke out, he joined the Leicestershire Yeomanry, but he had to be invalided out a year later after a steeplechase accident, and he entered the Foreign Service. Both of his elder brothers were killed on active duty. He served as an attaché at the British Embassy in Paris. When France fell in World War II he was assigned to the embassy in Madrid, where he organised escape routes for Allied servicemen caught behind enemy lines from 1940 to 1944 . He joined the Embassy in Rome in 1944–45.

He married his first wife, Gillian Leonora Strutt, with whom he had three children, John, David and Zara, they divorced however in 1959. He married his second wife, Anne Gunning Parker, in 1961. After her death, in 1991, he later married his third wife Margarita.

Early political career

At the 1945 general election, aged 25, Nutting was elected as Member of Parliament for Melton a constituency in the heart of famous hunting country and it was said of it that "most of the voters are foxes!". He served as chairman of the Young Conservatives 1946–47 and he was the youngest member of Winston Churchill's Government after World War II. He was made a Privy Councillor in 1954 and he led the British delegation to the United Nations General Assembly and Disarmament Commission in 1954 and 1955. He was an internationalist, an early enthusiast for British membership of the European Economic Community and an Arabist who was a founding member of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU) in 1967. In the worlds of the political writer Peter Kellner:

"He belonged to, and was set fair to lead, a new generation of post-war Tories: moderate, inclusive and internationalist. He preferred the spirit of the United Nations Charter to the ethos of empire. He understood earlier than most of his contemporaries that Britain needed to find a new role in the world."

Suez Crisis

In 1954, he negotiated the final steps of the treaty with President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt under which British troops withdrew from Suez; so when he discovered the joint British and French invasion plan at a meeting on 14 October 1956 he believed that the mission was mistaken and deceitful. On 31 October, despite attempts by future Prime Minister Harold Macmillan to persuade him not to resign, telling him "you will lead the party one day", Nutting quit his post as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. He did not give the customary resignation speech in the House of Commons for security reasons, and his unexplained action proved so unpopular that his constituents forced him to give up his seat in Parliament. He later wrote of feeling suddenly "bereft of friends... a castaway adrift on a sea of anger and recrimination, an object of distrust... torn between loyalty to principle and loyalty to friends and associates."[1]

Nutting supported the idea of moving Iraqi troops into Jordan in response to aggressive Israeli military raids in the West Bank, carried out in response to fedayeen (Palestinian guerilla) attacks on Israel. Such a deployment could have provoked war with Israel, since Britain had a defence treaty with Jordan at the time, and Jordan could appeal for British military assistance in the event of any Israeli action to stop it. However, when Nutting telephoned Prime Minister Anthony Eden to press the case, Eden angrily told Nutting that "I will not allow you to plunge this country into war merely to satisfy the anti-Jewish spleen of you people in the Foreign Office".[2]

After Suez

Sir Anthony kept his silence over the Suez Crisis until 1967 when in his book No End of a Lesson, he explained that backing the Suez action would have put him in the position of lying to the House of Commons and the United Nations.

"Either I had to tell the whole story as I saw it, or say nothing at all," he wrote. "And as long as any of the chief protagonists of the Suez war still held high office in Britain it would clearly have been a grave disservice to the nation, which they still led and represented in the councils of the world, to have told the whole story." The Suez Crisis had caused so much bitterness that even eleven years after his resignation he came under pressure from the Cabinet Secretary not to proceed and there was even a threat of prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.

He stood one last time, unsuccessfully, in Oldham East in 1964. In his later years, still a political outcast, he divided his time between writing biographies and histories in London, fox hunting in Shropshire, and farming at Achentoul in Scotland.

In 1969, Nutting was banned from entering Israel due to a speech to students in Beirut in which he reportedly said that the Palestine question could only be resolved by force, and it was up to Palestinian guerillas to impose a solution.[3]

He died on 24 February 1999 at his London home of heart failure.


  1. ^ Nutting, Anthony. No End of a Lesson. Page 106.
  2. ^ Sachar, Howard Morley: Israel and Europe: An Appraisal in History
  3. ^
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Sir William Lindsay Everard
Member of Parliament for Melton
Succeeded by
Irene Mervyn Parnicott Pike
Political offices
Preceded by
The Lord Henderson
Ernest Davies
Joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
with The Marquess of Reading 1951–1953
Douglas Dodds-Parker 1953–1954
Succeeded by
Robin Turton
Preceded by
Selwyn Lloyd
The Marquess of Reading
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs
with The Marquess of Reading

Succeeded by
The Marquess of Reading
Allan Noble
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Harold Stansmore Nutting
(of St Helens)
Succeeded by
John Grenfell Nutting
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