From J. T. Walton Newbold's Egypt & the Entente:
If one was endeavouring to put one’s finger upon the specific causes which led to the breakaway from the Liberal Party of that considerable fraction of monied magnates and industrialists who formed the backbone of Liberal Unionism one would have to ignore, in large measure, the generally accepted explanation that it was occasioned by Gladstone’s Irish policy and look very much further back than 1885.
The really critical year was not 1885. It was 1875. That was the year in which the approaching collapse of Egyptian finance became obvious; when the British Government, acting through the Rothschilds, acquired the Khedive Ismail’s holding of Suez Canal shares; when the Ottoman Government defaulted upon its loans. That was the year when the British Government, under pressure of the creditors, had to intervene and exercise diplomatic influence on their behalf both in Cairo and in Constantinople, but particularly in Cairo.
The diversion of shipping from the Cape route, where Britain’s power was established, to the Suez Canal route required that British influence should become paramount between Port Said and the mouth of the Red Sea.
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Three Men of Mystery
French capital—that of Baron Hausmann and the Société Générale de Paris—was placed at the service of the Khedive Ismail for the building of the railway across the Isthmus of Suez. French capital was also the main fund upon which the notorious Baron de Hirsch drew for his unscrupulous project of a railway to join up Vienna with Constantinople and Salonica. This Baron de Hirsch deserves more than a mere passing commentary. He was the first of three adventurers whose romantic careers have added new tales to the myths and legends of the East. He was the first of three characters, of three personalities, who, in their days and generations, were on all men’s lips. First was Baron de Hirsch. Second was Sir Ernest Cassel. Third was, and is, Sir Basil Zaharoff.
Baron de Hirsch, the herald of that great army of railway promoters, public works contractors, and shad financiers who have, at one time or another, plied their peculiar callings at Constantinople, was associated with the same financial house as Sir Ernest Cassel. Sir Ernest Cassel was associated in his manipulations at Constantinople with the same firm of armament contractors and financiers as Sir Basil Zaharoff.
There is visible a definite connection between the three “mystery” men. There has been behind each, in his time, the same lurking presence. It has been disguised with consummate skill. But conceal their tracks as they may, the most cautious of capitalists cannot mask their identity for all time from those of us who search for them with the applied science of the materialist conception of history.
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For more on Sir Basil Zaharoff see
Sir Basil Zaharoff, the “mystery man of Europe”. – Zaharoff, who was born in 1851 in Constantinople, married one Emily Ann Burrows of Knightsbridge. Maundy Gregory then introduced Emily Ann to the [sexually] insatiable Lloyd George. From that time on, he was at Zaharoff’s mercy.