In 1884, in the face of a violent Muslim insurrection in Sudan, General Charles Gordon was sent to Khartoum to restore order if possible and, if not, to evacuate British residents, of which there were some 2,500. He failed – gallantly, it should be said. His forces were besieged and he himself was killed. The relief force, charged by Gladstone with rescuing him and safeguarding those under his protection arrived two days late. An estimated 10,000 members of the garrison, as well as the civilians, died.

Flash forward 139 years. It is not Britain’s fault that Sudan has once more fallen into chaos. The gang fight that broke out suddenly between the forces of rival generals looking to control the country’s oil wealth is a matter for them and the Sudanese people to resolve.