Jenkins was regarded as Harold Wilson's heir, but he became increasingly disillusioned by the leftward drift of the Labour Party, and resigned both his deputy leadership and his seat in Parliament. He became President of the European Commission, and on his return from Brussels helped to launch the Social Democratic Party, returning to Parliament as the member for Glasgow Hillhead. He later went on to the House of Lords, where he was leader of the Liberal Democrats, and thence back to Oxford. He died in 2003.
Roy Jenkins, despite his demanding political career, found the time to write many major biographies, such as those on Attlee, Balfour, Dilke, Asquith, Truman, Baldwin, Gladstone and Churchill, and was widely known and respected as a statesman, politician and man of letters.