Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, KG, OM, PC, FRS, FBA, DL was a British statesman of the Conservative Party who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. As Foreign Secretary from 1916 to 1919, he issued the Balfour Declaration in November 1917 on behalf of the cabinet.
Entering Parliament in 1874, Balfour achieved prominence as Chief Secretary for Ireland, in which position he suppressed agrarian unrest whilst taking measures against absentee landlords. He opposed Irish Home Rule, saying there could be no half-way house between Ireland remaining within the United Kingdom or becoming independent. From 1891 he led the Conservative Party in the House of Commons, serving under his uncle, Lord Salisbury, whose government won large majorities in 1895 and 1900. A brilliant debater, he was bored by the mundane tasks of party management.
In July 1902 he succeeded his uncle as Prime Minister. He oversaw reform of British defence policy and supported Fisher's naval innovations. He secured the Entente Cordiale with France, leaving Germany in the cold.