Sir John Simon

(1873—1954) politician and lawyer

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Liberal politician and eminent barrister. Simon's collection of high offices—home secretary, foreign secretary, chancellor of the Exchequer, and lord chancellor—is unique in the 20th cent. Before the Great War he had been appointed solicitor‐general (1910) and attorney‐general, with a seat in the cabinet (1913). Thereafter his career suffered with the decline of the Liberal Party. But he returned to government in 1931 as foreign secretary at the head of Liberal National MPs. It was a difficult time to hold this office and Simon's reputation declined as first Japan, then Italy and Germany, challenged the authority of the League of Nations. He was more suited to the Home Office (1935–7), playing an important part in the abdication crisis, but as chancellor of the Exchequer (1937–40) his cautious financial control failed to take sufficient account of the need to rearm. In 1940 Churchill sent him to the Lords as lord chancellor, a position for which his legal talents well qualified him.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — British History.

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