Imagine that Scotland has 53 million people.
And England has 5.3 million.
Wales has 3m, and Northern Ireland 1.8m.
Imagine this is the UK.
England has vast reserves of oil and gas off its shores. England has been in a political union with Scotland for over 300 years. The UK’s Holyrood parliament has a rule for funding England that allows a percentage of its expenditure to be given to England. It continually asserts that it is subsidising England. England feels that it is not getting a good deal, as it contributes more to the UK economy than it receives back, raising more in tax revenue per person in England than in Scotland and the rest of the UK. Scotland has hidden reports showing England’s true oil wealth for many years. England also has some of the best educational establishments, thanks to its separate educational system, and has huge potential in renewable energy. Its high quality food and whisky are famous the world over, as are its signature bagpipes, tartan, kilts, and poet Robert Barnes. England has grown increasingly different to Scotland, and has for many years voted quite differently to their larger neighbours in the North, but still had the North’s choice of government holding power over them.
Devolution for England, and a referendum
In 1997, after scuppering a vote for it in 1979 with a ‘40%’ rule, Scotland finally allowed England to have a devolved parliament in London with limited powers. This parliament has proved very successful and popular with the English electorate, who voted in 2010 in a majority for the English National Party, whose declared aim is independence for England. The Holyrood government’s austerity measures, legacy of expenses-fiddling and its unelected second chamber, the House of Lards, as well as its anti-immigration policy, and growing opposition to membership of the European Union, are especially unpopular in egalitarian, left-leaning England. The cost to England of the Scottish-only HS2 rail development, the misalignment of capital costs within the Barnett formula for the 4.2 billion pound ‘super-sewer’ for Glasgow, and plans for a multi-billion pound refurbishment of the Houses of Parliament at Holyrood are all deeply resented. In 2012, an agreement is signed in London, called the London Agreement, to allow a vote to take place for English independence.
Scotland plays hardball with the pound: England told “You can’t use it.”
At first, Holyrood is casually dismissive of the English nationalists, but notice that a groundswell of public opinion is growing in support of independence. They commission private polls using public money and are worried by the results, especially as this means that the nuclear submarines, currently based 40 miles from England’s largest city of London, would be expelled from England, and they might have to build a base somewhere unacceptably closer to the major population centres of Scotland. However, they do not make any plans for this. The Holyrood Chancellor of the Exchequer has a meeting with his coalition and opposition partners, and decides that he will tell England that it will not be allowed to use the Pound if it votes for independence, and the opposition and coalition partners agree. “It isn’t going to happen”.
All the forces of the state arraigned for No
Scotland also conspires with its international friends and asks them to make statements supporting the UK status quo. The Scottish Tory Prime Minister, Alex Cameron, repeatedly refuses to debate with the ENP First Minister David Salmond. Instead, he lets Al Daley, a former Labour Chancellor in Edinburgh, lead the campaign, promising him an ermined robe in the House of Lards if he succeeds. Al’s party also agrees to oppose independence, counting on England’s loyal voters to maintain their top position among the 59 MPs England sends to the Edinburgh Parliament. The ‘No’ campaign, as in the campaign for devolution, draws funding from Scottish Tory party supporters, multi-millionaires seeking knighthoods, and big businesses with vested interests, and succeeds in persuading some high-profile professional deceivers (actors and writers) to support them. The No campaign is supported by almost all of the mainstream media, and the Edinburgh-based BBC is also helpfully selective in its choice of headlines and focus.
Officially published polls show support only in favour of No, which is engineered to grow as the referendum approaches. Wealthy business people are encouraged to write letters of support for No, and a willing media enjoys the circulation kicks of always having terrible news to report. Commentary and argument supporting Yes is reserved for little-read publications such as the Financial Times and Sunday Herald. Astroturf campaigns are funded, launched and gain mainstream media exposure, and ex-prime ministers are rolled out to oppose independence. However, below the establishment’s radar, local English people, most of whom are not ENP members, have been campaigning on-line and holding public meetings all across England, and publishing and distributing information through crowdfunding.
England votes Yes for independence on the 18th of September.
Alex Cameron is forced to resign immediately. His rival Boris McTavish will take power in Edinburgh. McTavish continues to refuse to start negotiations on a currency sharing agreement with England, and famously encourages his negotiators to “Give England no quarter – they have left our United Kingdom”. Meanwhile, in a London that saw a staggering week-long party, David Salmond declares that, if no sharing of currency is offered, no sharing of liabilities will be taken on: England will not take on its share of the UK’s huge
1.3 1.4 trillion pound debts.
The central bank, the Bank of Scotland, had previously agreed to underwrite all of these debts on behalf of the UK, and is forced to restate its position publicly. In the weeks following, international money markets move against the UK pound. Financiers, industrialists and oil companies state publicly that they will be very happy to do business with England whatever currency it uses, and that it is perfectly correct not to share UK debt, while also talking down the value of Sterling. A further blow to UK prestige comes when England is assured in November 2014 of a seamless continuation of its membership of the EU, as it has been a full member for over 40 years, as part of the UK.
The rise of UKIP and Boris in Scotland: UK exits from Europe
Meanwhile, rising austerity cuts, harsh welfare sanctions and NHS privatisation start to cause resentment in Scotland. They increasingly look to England, which has maintained its NHS as a public service, introduced free prescriptions and dental checkups, and which has not allowed the infamous ‘bedroom tax’ to be visited on its citizens, and wonder why they are getting such a raw deal. This resentment is stirred up by UKIP, who successfully whip up a storm in a compliant media to blame European membership and immigrants for this situation. In the May 2015 election, UKIP gain a large number of MPs and form a coalition government in Edinburgh with Boris McTavish’s Tories. Having failed to negotiate a ‘new deal’ with European partners they have alienated over the past few decades or so, they hold a referendum on exit from Europe, and apply all of their propaganda skills honed during the independence campaign. But this time, they win: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will leave the EU in June 2017. As was predicted by their critics, the UK’s credit ratings immediately drop, the UK pound loses its value against all major currencies, and a succession of international corporations announce that they will cease operations and manufacturing in Scotland and move to mainland Europe.
Oil fuels jobs growth in England
In England, confidence is high after massive new oil finds, which were hushed up during the independence campaign, show that an oil boom will sustain jobs and oil income for over 80 years. (Development workers were sent home for months on full pay until after the referendum date to conceal huge oil finds after a secret visit to the Scilly Isles by David Salmond). Alex Cameron consults with economic advisors, and calls a snap referendum to ask the English people if they wish to use the UK pound without currency union, or reinstate the English pound, which will be pegged to the UK pound until 2017. England votes for its own pound, cheered on by support from leading economists who state that the English pound will be stronger than the UK pound, and will attract international support, backed by its huge oil reserves and the overall strength of its economy, which has grown by over 4.3% in the last year as inspired business owners expanded their operations, and exported more internationally.
In March 2016, England becomes officially independent. World leaders flock to London for the celebrations and state their support for the new nation. Behind the scenes, England is encouraged to set up a new central bank, which is promised will receive immediate recognition and support from the EU, US, and the Russian, Japanese and Chinese governments.
English pound floats as a new currency
By June 2017, the UK’s economy has gone into recession, and a summer of riots begins, and the British Army is called onto the streets of Edinburgh and Glasgow to restore order. Hundreds of thousands of European citizens are being forced to leave the country, causing huge economic problems and tensions with several European governments. England’s economy, meanwhile, is in rude health, growing by over 6.5%, and employing an increasing number of emigrants from Scotland and the European Union. On the day the English pound becomes legal tender, backed by the new National People’s Bank of England, it appreciates as a separate currency by over 8 per cent compared to the UK pound. In the next week, over US$63bn flows into the new English currency, and it strengthens by over 12% against the US Dollar and Yen, and gains a further 4,5% in value over the UK pound.
UK forced to retire nuclear weapons; growth in England
England officially joins NATO two months after closing the nuclear facilities at Sheerness. The UK government has been unable to agree to a site for suitable nuclear weapons loading facility and submarine base in Scotland Wales or Northern Ireland, and is forced to decommission the weapons, sending them back to the USA, and it mothballs the submarines. The 580 workers made unemployed at Sheerness are offered lifetimes on triple salary by the English Government, which is delighted to be saving hundreds of millions of pounds not having to pay its share to maintain or replace the obsolete weapons. Many of the Sheerness workers go on to find work in rig fitting and shipbuilding for the new Thames Estuary oil boom, where exploration was previously blocked by the UK MOD to allow the nuclear submarines to ‘operate safely and efficiently’. Sheerness dockyard expands and new shipbuilding companies are created as England develops the English Navy to patrol the North Sea Waters, and new container ports to rival the huge Scottish facilities at Leith and Clydeside are opened up at Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull and Felixstowe. Tourist visits to England triple and exports of English whisky and food rise by over 26% a year as a result of the English government’s new export policies, the abolition of Air Passenger Duty and strongly branded new embassies and consulates across the globe. England’s ‘Common Weal’ social and economic policy goes on to win the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2020.
Of course, this could never happen here. These islands are nothing like this. Utterly fantastic, isn’t it?
The prize is a better country. And that’s only 21 days away.