The Divided Kingdom
Brexit in the year 2022
In the face mounting pressure, both internal and international, and in a drastic turn of events Britain enacted Article 50 early. On Monday, February 13th 2017, the UK left the European Union.
What was originally termed a ‘Hard Brexit’ transpired to be more like a violent car crash. It was not the smooth transition of liberation that was promised. When markets opened on February 14th the word ‘sterling’ lost all sense of it’s previous value and meaning. By 2020 dinner pieces were no longer advertised as ‘sterling silver’ because the economic connotation made it seem cheap and flimsy.
March of 2017 saw the first time that the British Pound was now trading less than the Euro. Like a lover scorned, the EU made the transition as difficult as possible for the UK. What was a recession early in the month became the depths of a depression by May 2017. Unemployment rose to nearly 18% by the end of the same year and the UK weathered it’s first ‘Dark Christmas’, named for the lack of lights due to soaring utility bills.
Government and NHS employees’ pay was slashed early in 2018 in an attempt to compensate for the onslaught of new year redundancies. Civil servants began to become much less civil. Mid to large companies closed their doors by the hour as foreign trade and investment began to dry up. The youth of the UK turned to the refuge of emmigration. The first to go were those who actually could-those who themselves were once immigrants. Irish, French, German, Spanish, Polish, those who were lucky enough to hold EU passports returned home. This in itself created problems in each motherland as some EU countries struggled to rehouse and employ their returning children, now adults of another nation.
But the story was different for British Youth. The EU walled off the boarders with red tape confettied like red bricks. The English Channel might as well have been an ocean. Canada, already dealing with the influx of American immigrants following Trumps’ rise to power in the 2016 election, was not an option. Australia swooped in and set up ‘work abroad’ fairs in every public hall across the UK. Theresa May’s government welcomed the safety valve of emigration; it was the only factor keeping unemployment from hitting 30%.
By mid 2019 Australian job fairs no longer visited, they had reached thier fill of British engineers, healthcare workers and had killed two birds with one stone-they no longer had to pay nurses a decent wage. But the young and skilled were still piling up in the social welfare queues back in the UK. The EU finally sought use for these useful class of British refugees. On September 17th 2018, the EU once again allowed British citizens to apply for EU work permits. But there was a limit to number of permits for each country per annum. The frenzy of applications, along with the strenuous requirements, bottlenecked the system and only the lucky few trickled out of the UK.
For the first time in history British citizens were no longer ‘ex-pats’, they were violating their holiday visas, they were living as illegal immigrants, they were refugees.
The government hastily installed electronic polling booths ahead of the May 7th 2020 general election. The system was controlled and moderated independantly-by a government funded office. Not surprisingly, the Conservatives and Theresa May were elected for another term of unspecified duration.
Can I See You Chip, Please?
Jeremy Corbyn and the rest of the labour party fell in line with the Conservitive and Unionist party. In the face of seeming insurmountable public backlash, the government turned to UKIP style tactics to distract and appease the British people. The carrot that dangled in the spotlight was the same ember that fueled the Brexit fire: race and discrimination.
Since Article 50 there had never been such a demand for scapgoats to the mounting socio-economic problems. Racial tensions soared and the 2019 statistics, the last year that the numbers were non-biasedly compiled, showed an increase of 62% in public hate crimes occurring on the streets. These attacks were ironically classified as ‘non-discriminatory’.
Secretary for State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Boris Johnson was forced out of office in 2018 due to ‘work associated psychological stresses’. The office operated as a revolving door as candidate after candidate resigned from the position. It seemed the words ‘Britain’ and ‘foreign’ were no longer synonomous with each other. The department was eventually dissolved and it’s remains were absorbed into what became the ‘Ministry for National Protection and Interest (MNPI). The MNPI had almost universal license to operate above the law and to change it where ever it saw fit. The first minister for the MNPI was not announced publically when he first came to office. To date he is still unknown.
By the end of 2020 almost no one was getting in or out of the UK. Some media outlets referred to it satirically as ‘West Korea’. The MNPI imposed mandatory genetic databasing of citizens, replacing National Insurance Numbers with serial numbers that linked to DNA based record systems. New born babies were entered into the database in conjunction with Guthrie tests starting in January of 2021. The information is stored on a sub-dermal chip implant and schemes to roll the system out nationally for all demographics came into effect in early 2022.
While implimenting a short term fix to stave off soaring unemployment, the MNPI auxiliary jobs created a closed circuit, self-limiting system that was a ticking time bomb. The NHS was on the verge of collapse and the short window of emmigration had left an enourmous vacuum in age-there simply was no one young or working to pay for the elderly.
Tabloid ‘newspapers’ and MNPI propaganda were almost indistinguishable. Hate and fear, it seemed, was cheaper and easier to peddle than explanations and solutions.
Once Great Britain
The year 2021 saw the end of the United Kingdom. Scotland held a referendum to secede from the UK, which was passed by a landslide outcome of 79% for the YES vote. The referendum was not recognised by the English government and talks for Scotland to be intruduced to the EU as an independent state were haulted amid mounting tensions between May’s government and the EU along with pressure from the USA on Europe not to recognise Scotland. However, America was suffering it’s own economic hurdles. The US, Russia and Europe were allied and entrenched in war with the UTIS (United Territiories of Islamic State) and with no clear sign of victory on the horizon, the US needed Europe’s Euro more than Britain’s Pound. On November 10th 2021, Scotland became an independent nation.
Northern Ireland, having established it’s own trade agreements with the Republic began to follow suit. For the first time in one-hundred years a united Ireland was an actual possibility. But not a feasable one. England would not relinquish lightly and the republic of Ireland, reeling from yet another property related economic crash, was conflicted between what it should do and wheather or not it was economically viable to absorb the lost counties. Everyone knew it was not.
By February 2022, just five years after Article 50 was enacted, the Britain that left the EU no longer existed. There were very winners and they paled in comparison to the mounted bodies of those who had lost. The EU had chosen to spite it’s own face in lieu of keeping it’s nose and the billions of pounds that once flowed into the EU treasury were sorely missed. But very little of this was unforeseen, and people questioned every day why those in power had allowed it to happen.
Why was the referendum not simply re-voted? Why did Europe chose revenge over compassion? Why was everyone so stubborn? Why had nobody learned?