If Brexit has ‘broken’ Britain, with opinion on leave or remain splitting the population down the middle, is the solution to break up Britain? This is the opinion of a cross party group of MPs, who are proposing a ‘Broken Up Britain’ in order to end the current Brexit uncertainty. “Look, UK voters were pretty much split down the middle with regards to that referendum. So couldn’t we just divide up the country on that basis?” asks Peter Knobb, a Conservative back bencher who recently lost the party whip after voting against a ‘No Deal’ Brexit. “I know the practicalities of it might be a bit complex, but I’d favour keeping it simple with a North-South divide. The South of England could remain in the EU, while the North buggers off and does its own thing. In my opinion it’s quite simple, we dig a huge ditch somewhere north of Oxford, stretching across the whole of England and declare it a ‘hard border’, with everything south of it being an independent state retaining EU membership.” Knobb, whose own constituency is in Surrey, concedes that there might be difficulties with such a simplistic geographical division, but believes that it would still be the fairest solution to the UK’s Brexit dilemma.
“The fact is that large swathes of the North, (not to mention Wales) voted to leave the EU, despite the fact that they were the main beneficiaries of EU financial aid, they were the parts of the country most vociferously blaming ‘those immigrants’ and those ‘metropolitan elites’ in the ‘south’ for their problems,” he opines. “By contrast, London (which most of those northerners think is synonymous with ‘the south’), the Thames Valley and Home counties, were largely ‘Remain’.” Another member of the cross party group, Labour MP Reg Handle, disagrees with such a simplistic division, pointing out that there were places in the North that voted Remain, while parts of the south voted Leave. “The fact is that there will be many unhappy leave voters finding themselves forced to remain living in the EU affiliated south and vice versa with northern based remainers, not to mention the fact that Scotland, which is as far from the South as you can get, overwhelmingly voted remain,” he says. “So we have to ask whether the we need to split the country into two contiguous leave and remain areas – couldn’t we simply have individual areas assigned to each according to their majority vote in the referendum? Perhaps the obvious solution would be for the remain voting areas of England to become part of Scotland? I know a lot of so called ‘English Patriots’ might object to what they’d see as a ‘subjugation’ of England, but they probably voted ‘Leave’, so they could just stay in Sunderland, or somewhere else that voted the same way. Let’s face it – this could be the only way to maintain the Union.”
Knobb disagrees, maintaining that a north-south divide remains the most straightforward approach, although he concedes that the number of remainers stuck in leave areas and leavers in remain areas would constitute a major problem. “Obviously, the solution would be some kind of migration, with remainers moving south and leavers north – perhaps they could do house exchanges,” he muses. “Over time, we’d have a definitive answer to whether being in the EU is beneficial or not: if people start flooding north as the standard of living improves in the ‘Free North’ and highly paid jobs are created there, then clearly, the leavers would be proved right. On the other hand if, as I suspect they would, people started flooding south to try and enjoy the benefits of the prosperous EU enabled southern counties, then we Remainers would have bragging rights.” Knobb that he was minded to exclude Devon and Cornwall. “Traditionally they haven’t wanted to be part of England, let alone the EU,” he declares. “Or the twenty first century, for that matter. Scotland, obviously, would be either independent or become an honorary part of the south. I’d even be prepared to throw the Royal Family in with the North – if they’re so patriotic they can pay for the buggers.”
Handle still worries that any newly independent sate of Northern England would inevitably find itself in financial difficulties from the outset. “Most of their remaining industry was supported by EU grants that they would no longer have access to, while most of the profitable service and financial industries are based in the South,” he points out. “I know they voted to leave, but that shouldn’t mean that people should have to endure further poverty and deprivation.” Unsurprisingly, Knobb has little time for such considerations. “I’ve no doubt all those bloody northerners will sing their usual refrain about how all the wealth is in the south,” he says. “Well, tough titty. They voted to impoverish themselves further by leaving the EU – I don’t see why they should drag the rest of us down with them.” Knobb suspects that so many northern leavers would end up heading south, that a tough immigration regime would have to be instituted, requiring them to demonstrate what skills they had that might be beneficial to the southern economy. “Oh, and they’d have to learn to speak proper English, without those bloody accents,” he adds.
A third member of the cross party group. Liberal Democrat Sally Latch, has a more radical approach. “Maybe, rather than a simple North-South divide, we could devolve the country into individual city-states and independent counties,” she says. “It would give more variety for people when it cam to choosing their ideal living environment. Rather than just focus on whether a particular mini-state is pro or anti-Brexit, independent or still a member of the EU, you could choose you place of domicile on the basis of whether it had, say, a majority white population, or encouraged Pride marches, or favoured higher levels of public spending.” Latch recognises that there might be problems inherent in turning Britain into a sort of a patchwork quilt. “Obviously, some form of ‘Free Movement’ will have to be agreed to allow people, services and goods to travel between remain areas via leave areas and vice versa,” says the MP. “Maybe a customs union, or even some sort of economic community.”