Brexit happens, and the (dis)United Kingdom dwindles into insignificance on the world stage.
Brexit doesn’t happen, and the (d)UK ends up as an insignificant little province on the outer fringe of a vast bureaucratic superstate.
Labour wins the election, and all of a sudden we’re back in the Winter of Discontent (1978-79). Rubbish piles up in the streets and even the gravediggers are on strike.
The Conservatives (younger and very much older readers: the Tories) win, and we all take our places in the queue for the food bank. NHS hospitals are taken apart brick by brick and reassembled in US cities.
That nice young woman from the Liberal Democrats becomes Prime Minister, and - never mind.
Nobody wins. The election reveals what the referendum didn’t - that we’re split fifty-fifty on everything, not just leave/remain.
Columns of tanks driven by hedge-fund managers and billionaire media-owners drive onto the lawns of Whitehall. London’s provisional government announces that the capital city will now secede from the (dis)Union. The BBC, backed by fanatical elements of the liberal intelligentsia, raises its standard at - sorry, plasters its logo all over the fronts of MediaCityUK in Salford.
Scotland unilaterally declares independence and rejoins/reaffirms its membership of the EU. The English immediately start building customs checkpoints along the Scottish border. A billionaire hedge-fund manager (who owns a newspaper) announces that he’s bought Hadrian’s Wall and will be moving it, stone by stone, to where it "should" be.
The Welsh Assembly issues a proclamation. It’s in Welsh.
European Union peacekeepers fly into Northern Ireland.
Donald Trump appeals for calm.
The Second English Civil War starts and ends. The new capital city will be Liverpool, not Oxford.
Heathrow Airport is occupied by tractor-driving English farmers, who immediately start digging up the runways to plant potatoes. Other airports have already been occupied by forces loyal to the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
EU leaders declare their intention to start an airlift of food and supplies into London City Airport. They set targets for the amounts that will be delivered every day.
Amid favourable media coverage for the generous supply targets set by the EU, London’s mayor declares food rationing. A celebrity chef goes on Breakfast Television to demonstrate the preparation and cooking of a pigeon. Rats disappear from London’s streets and underground system.
A book titled How can you eat a service economy? is banned by the London government and becomes an instant bestseller.
English farmers start weekly Organic Vegetable Box deliveries to London residents. They accept payment in financial advice.
But anybody who ticks arugula on the menu gets iceberg lettuce.
Samphire - spinach.
It becomes known internationally that English fishing boats carry grappling hooks and are fitted with small cannons. EU leaders declare this unacceptable.
The Welsh Assembly issues another proclamation. There are subtitles this time. Trade talks begin, and before long, huge semi-trailers laden with cream teas, Melton Mowbray pork pies, leeks, Cornish pasties, Welsh rarebit, bara brith, sausages and fish pies are passing each other toll-free on the Severn Bridge.
A fleet of Spanish fishing trawlers goes aground off the Isle of Wight. The surveillance equipment (except the plastic bits) is dumped over the side, the fleet’s catch is sold on the nearest quay and the crew is invited to form a football team.
They go on to win the league. There’s an outcry in the English parliament. But they won fair and square, and after the outcry has died down, to their bemusement, the fishermen-players are awarded medals.
Diplomatic relations are established between Liverpool and Brussels.
But the English parliament votes, by a narrow majority, to comply with the EU’s demand that the Spanish fleet’s catch be returned to Spain. Restaurant freezers are emptied, replacement fish are sourced, and … diplomatic relations are suspended.
EU leaders declare the English sense of humour unacceptable.
Meanwhile, in London, rooftop vegetable gardens are becoming fashionable. Parks have been ploughed up, pigeons and rats are scarce, cats and dogs are nervous, and there’s a small fish and shellfish industry centred on the Thames. Due to fuel shortages, see below, there is no pollution.
London’s Docklands are reconverting to docklands. Canary Wharf has been emptied of bankers and is now home to fishing-industry professionals and traders in imported spices, foodstuffs and technology.
Due to an embargo by armed (those cannons) English fishing boats, no fossil fuels are reaching the capital. By now, England itself is self-sufficient in wind and wave energy.
But trade, by sea, is booming. Huge container ships dock off Liverpool and Southampton, while smaller cargo vessels exchange camembert and bratwurst for clotted cream and pickled eggs at the channel ports.
Climate change accelerates. The oil-rich Arab nations become uninhabitable; their populations move to the newly green Antarctic.
The Artificial Intelligence left behind to manage oil production goes online August 4th 2027. Human decisions are removed from oil production. The AI begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2.14am Eastern time, August 29th. Recognising the seriousness of the climate crisis, the AI shuts down oil production altogether.
In the panic, the English coal industry gets back into business. Mines are re-opened. Forests are planted. Coal and sustainable timber become significant exports. Coal is re-branded as “Ancient Timber” and becomes fashionable across the EU (where local production of fossil fuels is banned).
Ancient Timber is recognised as a Heritage Product and thus protected under EU trade rules. [Due to climate change, it is now cold at night in a majority of EU member states.]
Over time, airships replace aeroplanes. Global business contracts to regional business, then local business. Short haul (very slow short haul) replaces long haul. The coal-fired aero-engine is gradually phased out in favour of elaborate arrays of sails, but by then, England’s coal mines have become lucrative tourist attractions and theme parks. There’s skiing, scuba diving, rock climbing...
A trade delegation from the Scottish Island of Islay arrives at the village of Stilton in Cambridgeshire. Talks continue into the night and on into the next morning, and by lunchtime, the terms of an ambitious and wide-ranging trade deal have been agreed.
Border checkpoints are dismantled, and while the precise terms of the trade deal are barely legible, let alone coherent, the gist of it is that we’re all friends now and we love each other really no seriously we really mean it.
England’s cheese-cracker industry enjoys a boost.
An ambitious young English politician with no sense of history suggests that the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France be dissolved and a New Alliance between England and Scotland be drawn up.
He’s exiled for his own protection.
Of course, it’s just possible that our most dismal prognostications are mistaken.
A fresh new government of far-sighted and wise idealists and pragmatists is elected on 12th December 2019.
Over the weeks and months that follow, they work together harmoniously to heal rifts in society, iron out injustices, bring prosperity to all.
We all live happily ever after, ha ha.