Jenkins was elected to Parliament as a Labour MP in 1948. He served as Home Secretary from 1965 to 1967 and Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1967 and 1970. He was elected Deputy Leader of the Labour Party on 8 July 1970, but resigned in 1972 because he supported entry to the European Communities, while the party opposed it.
In 1977, he was appointed President of the European Commission, serving until 1981. He was the first British holder of this office, and is likely to be the only such (considering the United Kingdom's decision in June 2016 to leave the European Union).
He was also a known historian, biographer and writer. His A Life at the Centre (1991) is thought to be as one of the best autobiographies of the later 20th century, which "will be read with pleasure long after most examples of the genre have been forgotten".
- "Jenkins Labour deputy leader". The Glasgow Herald. 9 July 1970. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- Cawood, Ian J. (21 August 2013). Britain in the Twentieth Century. Routledge. p. 437. ISBN 978-1-136-40681-2.
- Marquand, David (8 January 2003). "Lord Jenkins of Hillhead". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 September 2014.
- Quotations related to Roy Jenkins at Wikiquote
- "Roy Jenkins (The Rt Hon Lord Jenkins of Hillhead)", Fellows Remembered, The Royal Society of Literature