England The once and future country

I support the Union of the UK. I am happy for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to stay with England as long as they wish. However, as a democrat I support a Union of willing people and accept that some parts of the old UK may not wish to remain part of the future Union. The Irish Free State, now the Republic of Ireland, made that decision early in the twentieth century. I also expect the Union to be constructed on fair principles, which becomes more difficult with the current fashion for lop sided devolution.

The first thing to understand about our Union is that is both very flexible, and that the full union lasted for just 121 years out of the last 1000. Only from 1800 to 1921 did all of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England rest legally in the same country with the same Parliament. During the last 1000 years the most common configuration has been a united England and Wales without Scotland and Ireland. The second most common state has been an independent England.

Several attempts were made to unite the three crowns and the four countries over the centuries, often involving unpleasant wars or civil insurrections. The most brutal was probably that under Cromwell, who united the four countries under the power of the New Model Army and imposed a general Commonwealth. Today I am glad we have no wish to exercise a Union by force.

England has always been an independently minded country, with democratic and self governing leanings that have marked its history out from many on the continent and elsewhere in these islands. Though in name a monarchy throughout the last 1000 years, England has regarded the holder of the Crown as in some ways an elected monarch who has to continue to please the people and powers in the land to retain the orb and sceptre. 12 monarchs have been deposed, murdered or otherwise removed from office since 1066. In other words a monarch had around a one in three chance of premature loss of the crown.This trend continued well into the twentieth century with the deposition of Edward VIII. King John was not deposed but had to sign a charter limiting his power. Charles II had to sign up to substantial limitations on royal power to regain the throne for the House of Stuart. William and Mary accepted further limitations on royal power when they took the throne over from the dismissed James II. George III had to accept a Regency owing to his mental condition. During the Wars of the Roses there were frequent changes of monarch as the rival houses and factions fought to secure the crown.

This flexible approach to the rights and choice of Kings enabled a stronger Parliament to emerge. Even powerful monarchs like Henry VIII turned to Parliament to lend authority to his change of Queen and to the Reformation removal of the powers of the Roman Church and Pope. Most monarchs needed the support of Parliament to secure the money they wanted for their wars and government. Today we fight over these issues with words and Parliamentary motions. The issues raised by devolution are similar to those that lay behind the wars over the Union in the past.

Deposed or assassinated: (29% of the total)

William II, Matilda, Edward II, Richard II, Henry VI, Edward IV, Edward V, Richard III, (Jane Grey), Charles I, James II, Edward VIII

Accepted Regent in his place

George III

Accepted substantial limitations on power

John, Charles II, William and Mary,all later monarchs


  1. Mike Stallard
    January 17, 2016

    Yes, all true.
    Let me add something though. When the Scots were not unified, they constantly came down across the borders to steal and plunder. The 1745 rebellion was the worst example, but there were a lot of others. That is because Scotland by itself is just a vast swathe of unproductive moorland with lots of water round and in it.
    The industrial revolution came – and went. Now there is a vast rust belt of unproductive stuff and some large cities filling up with migrants of one sort or another.
    And it all rests on oil. Well there’s a thing…
    Scotland has gone back to being the poor, rather fractious neighbour. It needs us much more than we need the Scots. Or perhaps it is going to make the mistake of depending on the EU…

    As to the monarchy: it is not elected in any normal way and it is now very much sidelined. But it is loved. Very much. And it is what keeps our country (if not Scotland) together. Lose it and we become just a lot of individuals under a President like Diane Abbott perhaps?.

    PS I like our history and I am very proud of it. And that does not hold, by a long chalk, for everyone.

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 17, 2016

      “Scotland has gone back to being the poor, rather fractious neighbour.”

      Scotland is not poor. Per capita GDP in Scotland is similar to the average for the rest of the UK, and it is significantly higher than in some parts of England. With oil at its previous prices it was slightly higher and then Scotland was making a small positive contribution to the public finances of the UK as a whole, almost certainly with low oil prices it is being slightly subsidised by the rest of the UK, and in particular London and its hinterland in the south east corner of England.

      Yes, as with some other parts of the UK it can be questioned whether the economy of Scotland is over-dependent on public spending, but usually it is more or less paying its way and it is not poor compared to the rest of the UK.

      And in fact it is very wealthy compared to most of the newer EU member states – which is why its share of the EU’s regional spending is falling away – and even more so compared with the countries which are being lined up to join the EU over the coming years – Albania and the rest of the Balkan states, Turkey, Ukraine and the countries across to and beyond the Caspian Sea on the way to the line of the Urals which Cameron has agreed and said should be the eastern limit of the EU.

      As for “fractious”, well, some Scots are more fractious than others.

      1. Anonymous
        January 17, 2016

        Denis – Also the Scots get free university education (+ £30k), free prescriptions (who knows how much ?) and FREE geriatric care costs (leaving the family inheritance intact.)

        The average Scot can end up hundreds of thousands of pounds ahead of their English counterpart because of these things.

        1. hefner
          January 18, 2016

          Unfortunately, we voted for Governments who introduced university fees, supported by MPs who never had to pay such sums of money when they were students.
          Instead of blaming the Scots, might it not be more sensible to look back at how stupid we have been at voting for and subsequently letting Governments, be they Labour, coalition or Conservative, convince us of the need for university fees.

          On a not so unrelated question, isn’t it a shame to hear various pompous ones to tell us that Vanguard submarines without Trident nuclear armament is the end of the world. Submarines can also launch non-nuclear missiles, and considering various recent conflicts, such non-nuclear missiles can be rather “efficient”.

          1. Jerry
            January 18, 2016

            @hefner; You miss the whole point in having such 24/7/365 capable submarines, what Mr Corbyn proposed was in effect unilateral disarmament via the back door – along with a very expensive workfare scheme to keep a lot of people ‘gainfully’ employed, if we do not build and deploy a nuclear deterrent then it might be better to just build some more aircraft carriers and other Naval craft if the idea is to simply pacify the ship building unions.

    2. agricola
      January 17, 2016

      A country, Scotland for example, is not it’s geography, it is it’s people. Geography can increasingly be dealt with, canals, dams, agriculture etc., but it is people who effect this. The Scots in the past have done this and not confined themselves to Scotland. In my travels around the World I was always coming across their legacy. A bridge or railway engineered by Mc Someone and Sons Glasgow. You could say much the same about Muslims and Romans, witness the Alhambra in Grenada or the aqueduct in Segovia.

      Yes at the moment Scotland may appear fractious I agree, but there is no lack of intellectual talent. We must just await it’s emergence in the form of real leadership rather than political ideology that scapegoats it’s neighbour. Historically ideology leads nowhere, witness communism in the USSR and China. In both cases it has proved itself unsustainable and is morphing into something else in the hands of it’s peoples.

      For the UK and it’s component parts it is the people acting within evolved moral values and the subsequent law that counts above all.

    3. Mark B
      January 17, 2016


      Very much agreed. I too like the UK and like our kind host believe that it is time for England to be recognised and respected. The calls for parity with Scotland are slowly but surely growing stronger and stronger by the day. We have a rich, varied and powerful history as both English people and people of the United Kingdom. But despite all this, I cannot and will not defend a UK that denies my existence and rights.

    4. Martin
      January 17, 2016

      Didn’t Edward 1st set a new standard in theft and destruction ?

    5. libertarian
      January 17, 2016

      Sorry Mike I think thats a really poor post.

      Throughout history wars, battles and tribal conflicts have existed. To just single out Scotland is ludicrous. I’m an Englishman and proud of it, but I respect other countries and their cultures. Scotland gave us Adam Smith, Logie Baird, Dunlop, Bell oh just too many to list here.

      Just because the Socialist SNP couldn’t see beyond oil doesn’t make that the only industry. In fact the ONLY reason the SNP lost the independence referendum is because their ONLY argument was for a socialist based independent Scotland. If you think that the only way a small nation can survive is based on natural resources then you are seriously blinkered. Check out Hong Kong, Singapore, Iceland , Switzerland among others.

      Your point about the monarchy is a tired old one, it used to be think about President Blair. Well a couple of things , if you think that a democratic election shouldnt be held in case the majority pick someone you don’t like then I’m afraid you don’t understand.

      Under our present system I would like to see a directly elected Prime Minister our current system isn’t fit for the 21st century. I am happy to retain Her Majesty as she has done an astounding job. The minute she goes, I become a republican. I also unlike JR do NOT want to retain the union, I want an independent England.

      1. forthurst
        January 17, 2016

        “I would like to see a directly elected Prime Minister”

        …and the HoC could pass a motion of no confidence in any government he formed.

      2. Anonymous
        January 17, 2016

        Libertarian – Thanks to the reckless policies of the past two decades this country will return to instability and civil war some time in the next hundred years.

        Dr Redwood, mine is a very common belief. It needs to be addressed and not dismissed as stupid.

    6. JoeSoap
      January 17, 2016

      Poor? They earn more than we do!
      All those public sector jobs and pensions we hand out!

  2. JJE
    January 17, 2016

    As Aesop put it in his fable:
    A lion used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in the separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four.
    United we stand, divided we fall.

    1. Jumeirah
      January 17, 2016

      United we stand under one United Kingdom if that’s what you want BUT English Laws for English MPs and on that let there be NO COMPROMISE. Let’s deal with getting out of Europe first.

    2. James Matthews
      January 17, 2016

      Hmm. I have always assumed that in the fable the oxen were all about the same size.

    3. libertarian
      January 17, 2016


      So on that basis you are in favour of staying in the EU too?

      1. Jerry
        January 18, 2016

        @libertarian; You really do not appear to be very good at reading what other’s say Libby…

        The way @JJE wrote his comment reads very much for the Union and very against the EU -unless there is another ‘lion’ stalking our four nations?

    4. DaveM
      January 17, 2016

      Well put, and a good post my Mr R today. I am a rare thing – an English nationalist who likes the Union.

      It will be a shame if the union falls apart, and there will be far reaching complexities if it happens, but the more lopsided this devolution becomes, the more I think England would be better off alone.

      Either that or just go back to having one UK Parliament.

  3. Iain gill
    January 17, 2016

    I notice the papers are saying Portugal has been issuing passports en masse to people from its former colonies who have never been to Portugal. And 20000 Indians have recently used such passports to live in the UK. This is in addition to the massive numbers given indefinite leave having originally entered on temporary work visas. Is the government remotely credible on immigration?

  4. Cheshire Girl
    January 17, 2016

    I know this is ‘off topic’ and I apologise, but I have just read that there is a Conservative Alliance being formed headed by Nick Herbert (when did we last hear anything from him?) to persuade us to stay in the EU.
    I suspect that this will be the same scare tactics that were used before the last General Election, to scare the heck out of those who were disinclined to vote Conservative. I’m sure there will be relentless pressure, probably from both sides. I hope the British people will make up their own minds on this, on whether to ‘jump into a void’ or to leave things pretty much as they are, which is very far from satisfactory!

    1. forthurst
      January 17, 2016

      “I hope the British people will make up their own minds on this, on whether to ‘jump into a void’ or to leave things pretty much as they are, which is very far from satisfactory!”

      The latter is not on offer as the EU does not and never has “left things as they are”; the choice is a free and independent nation following our proud history as described by JR or being an assortment of federated provinces within the Federal Republic of Eurapia.

    2. Anonymous
      January 17, 2016

      This is a ‘Eurosceptic’ group to campaign to stay in a ‘reformed’ EU.

      So we have:

      – stay in the EU

      – stay in a reformed EU

      but no

      – leave the EU.

  5. Yosarion
    January 17, 2016

    The last English King was 1066, what the English have had is a 1000 years plus of French rule, Magna Carter is a good example of when the invading Noblemen wrote laws to themselves on occupied land, because they had fallen out with their invading dynasty.
    When were the Stuart’s on the thrown to regain it?

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 18, 2016

      It only took about 300 years for the English to reform and resurge after the Norman Conquest, not 1000 years plus.

  6. alan jutson
    January 17, 2016

    Yes, our history is long and was bloody before we reached some sort of democracy, which then evolved and emerged after very many years.

    Please pray tell me John, why the present batch of politicians of many so called democracies, all with a similar long history to ours, think that the African and Arab Nations can be forced into some sort of a fix up in the name of a so called democracy, in just a few years by outsiders.

  7. Ex-expat Colin
    January 17, 2016

    Think history is to be dumped for multiple quick fixes. S. Ireland suffers the EU and I suspect resembles the southern euro states. N. Ireland wants to keep history in focus..uses the bad parts of it that we now are not responsible for. etc ed

    Scotland wants/may get the quick fix with the EU…not much to be said really.

    England has imported its own problems and is suffering from it…bad government flip flops that mires it in minority problems. Those specific problems have us manacled to an all inclusive dismal future….I really hope not!

  8. Denis Cooper
    January 17, 2016

    JR, I appreciate that for simplicity you have referred to the past 1000 years as a round number, but of course England existed before 1016, traditionally from Alfred the Great but with most historians taking his grandson Athelstan to be the first king of all England after the decisive battle of Brunanburh in 937. Indeed he was not only recognised as being the king of all England, he claimed to be the king or overlord of all Britain. It was a rather strange experience to attend a lecture some years ago when the Scottish lecturer pointed out the importance of that “great battle” to his English audience, saying that he was sure that hardly of them had even heard of it let alone understood its significance.

  9. Lifelogic
    January 17, 2016

    The problem is that if you keep asking some regions if they want to leave they will, sooner or later, be in a mood to say yes. Even if the average opinion, over time, is to stay. What then Cornwall, the Isle of Wight, Yorkshire, London ……

  10. David Murfin
    January 17, 2016

    “William II, Matilda, Edward II, Richard II, Henry VI, Edward IV, Edward V, Richard III, (Jane Grey),”
    I don’t think family feuds count as democracy.

  11. Old Albion
    January 17, 2016

    I hope I will live long enough to see either an England equal with the other countries in a federal UK or even an independent England.
    Either way, free of the EU.

  12. The PrangWizard
    January 17, 2016

    Our Union is no longer happy and united, and one must indeed question seriously the desirabilty of its continued existence. The Scots in their united misery are a running sore, and we see the same tendencies in Wales. England has sacrificed much to hold it together, but we are all still unhappy.

    What is the point of wishing to preserve a UK when the second largest member has again declared a form of war against the rest, but in truth against England and the English? Its present leadership and a mass of its people find fuel in portraying themselves as victims, of unfair treatment in the past and now, and are attempting to form alliances with some of the Welsh. It is a false picture but they persist with it. It is practically the only thing that sustains them, but it is their choice and we must accept it.

    This antagonism will thus not fade and disappear; we as individuals do not usually remain closely tied to others when such a union brings more unhappiness than benefit. It is normal human nature to separate and build new lives.

    It is time England and the English stopped imagining that we have a responsibilty and duty to hold the union together. It is another example of living in the past and romaticising about it. Unions should not be artificially held together.

    We should inform Scotland that we expect her to leave because that is the wish of their elected representatives; the terms should be firm, crisp and not protracted, and established vested interests in the union should have only a minimal voice. Her Majesty the Queen should not be allowed to influence this in any way nor prevent this from happening.

    England can manage perfectly well without Scotland, who can then be happy, or continue with her miserable habits, in her own independent way. It will help too in the much needed re-birth of English identity and confidence.

    1. Anonymous
      January 17, 2016

      It has been engineered and the animos stoked.

      The victimhood has been fomented by the anti English Americans through Hollywood.

      How can our country (of over a thousand years) explode while the German nation (a very recent union) reunifies and holds intact ?

      1. James Matthews
        January 18, 2016

        The answer to your question is, I think, that post-war German leaders have been much better at fostering German interests than ours (with one possible exception) have been at fostering British interests. That, in turn, could be a result of better constitutional arrangements (mostly written by the British), or perhaps the Germans are now better than we are at holding their leaders to account.

        Having said that, it looks as though Merkel is in imminent danger of blowing that track record. Nevertheless, it seems clear that our constitution no longer serves us well.

  13. Antisthenes
    January 17, 2016

    The growth of the power of parliament has brought prosperity, security and civil rights to the people who live in the union. Parliament has gathered to itself all the power that once only monarchs could exercise. It could be argued that having taken those powers now like monarchs used to do parliament sometimes abuse them and acts not in the best interest of the citizens of the union but in it’s own self interest.

    Fortunately parliament cannot always exercise power in a way that it would like to and that is like an absolute monarch because of the built in democratic element. However that only holds good as long as the parliament that governs can be held to account by the people it governs. So I ask why are we throwing away centuries of hardship and struggle to bring us democratic government by transferring that government to a one the EU that in theory has the same accountability but which in practice does not and often does act like an absolute monarch.

    Unions are forged and unions are discarded as circumstances dictate. Our union was forged and has proved mutually beneficial. Maybe the time has come that that union no longer serves the purpose for which it was created. I believe the probable cause for the union not to be as attractive an idea as it once was is because of the growth of government. It has become too large, less accountable and even to people just a few hundred miles away from London too remote. Or maybe people have just woken up to the fact that they can have more say over their own affairs if the political decisions are made more locally.

    Devolution has been the vehicle that has satisfied those self determination aspirations so far but for many Scots that is not enough and Scotland may break away from the union. The rest of the union may not like it very much but should accept that it is their democratic right to do so and wish them well in their endeavours.

    Considering the problems of a relatively small union like the UK should that not make us think very hard and long about staying a member of another political union that is much larger and more complicated the EU. Should we not do our own break away so that we can once again be masters of our own affairs.

    January 17, 2016

    Why Russians in particular I don’t know. But on a number of occasions such individuals have remarked without prompting :
    “I can’t see any difference between Irish and English” . My friendly caution that such an opinion might not go down well with quite a few Irish more often than not has led to a added emphasis and sometimes with gritted teeth: “Well I can’t see any difference. You’re all the same to me.”

    I must add, that for some reason I cannot divine, people of different nationalities and religions are usually uncautiously candid with me. Again, many, particularly, but by no means exclusively Russian, say Scots and Welsh are “Just the same” in their view.

    Well it is sad in these islands that we have an over-developed differentiation of mind which mysteriously becomes almost non-functional when we cast our mind’s-eye to truly foreign climes and peoples.

    Some Scots speak of Westminster as a focal point of their own difference. That has never really worked for the Northern English. I think it is because we Northern English regard ourselves as a not purer version of British and English but certainly a truer one.

    For the record,one or two Russians have frankly told me they regard Canadians, American, Australians, New Zealanders, and ( British ) South Africans as English too irrespective of their particular politics and geographical location. I have heard some French people say much the same.

    By all means an English Parliament to match the Scots and Welsh. Yet, without coming the old soldier, British people are viewed as historically having a great deal of nappy-rash and endless teething problems..

  15. Denis Cooper
    January 17, 2016

    Off-topic, as long expected senior Tories are now gravitating towards the Stay side in the EU referendum, so aligning themselves with almost all of the senior Labour party figures and about all of those in the Liberal Democrat party as well. Somebody saying that of course they are “eurosceptic”, and they might be tempted to vote for Leave in the unfortunate event that Cameron is unsuccessful in getting the “reformed” EU he wants, is pretty meaningless when whatever sops to British public opinion he and his EU colleagues may cook up will inevitably be presented as significant improvements even if in reality they are trivial and probably temporary changes. Which of course is precisely what Wilson did in 1975:


    “We explain why the Government, after long, hard negotiations, are recommending to the British people that we should remain a member of the European Community.

    We do not pretend, and never have pretended, that we got everything we wanted in these negotiations. But we did get big and significant improvements on the previous terms.

    We confidently believe that these better terms can give Britain a New Deal in Europe. A Deal that will help us, help the Commonwealth, and help our partners in Europe.

    That is why we are asking you to vote in favour of remaining in the Community.”

    OK, so it is an old trick, more than forty years old; but in a way that could actually be an advantage, because most of the people who Cameron is trying to fool this time are not old enough to have been fooled last time and so only a minority will be saying:

    “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”.

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      January 17, 2016

      It was only last week our host was writing in the Financial Times that Conservatives were all Eurosceptics now! Experience has shown time and again that when it comes to the crunch Conservative MPs put career and party before country. We should expect nothing else this time.

      1. Chris
        January 18, 2016

        Career before country seems to be a characteristic of many former “eurosceptics” in the Conservative Party. Their rapid conversion does not impress voters and just leads to further cynicism. I personally am disgusted by these individuals and their pathetic “explanations”. Taking us for fools again.

  16. Nick
    January 17, 2016

    Edward IV??

  17. Jerry
    January 17, 2016

    Indeed and a very British Empire way of thinking, were London, England is the centre of the world, or in this case GB&NI.

    But what if it is actually England who wishes to leave the union, after all the Queen (and her successors) is the Monarch of GB & NI, what if Wales, Scotland and NI agree on one pathway but a majority of the electorate in England want to travel a different route?

    The Queen only has her official residence in London by convention, she could just as easy live and carry out her office from Balmoral for example, a (much smaller) “United Kingdom” parliament could meet in Cardiff Bay or Holyrood, perhaps even NI, whilst the English parliament of an “iEngland” would carry on using the buildings at Westminster.

    When an iEnglish parliamentary session is opened then the Monarch’s representative can carry out the Queens duty in the same way as happens in other Commonwealth countries, were the Queen of GB&NI is still head of state, should it be inconvenient for the Queen to travel to a Commonwealth member country!…

    Beware of slippery slopes, they do not always lead to were you think or wish.

    1. Edward2
      January 17, 2016

      Forgetting that over 80% of the population of the UK live in England and over 80% of the UK national income is produced in England.

      1. James Matthews
        January 18, 2016

        To which may be added that most of the Monarch’s wealth is located in England and most of the funding for monarchical duties comes from England. Should the Head of the Commonwealth relocate to Scotland the Scots can pick up the tab.

        Mind you, the idea that in such a scenario the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish would agree on much beyond dislike of the English seems preposterous.

      2. Jerry
        January 18, 2016

        @Edward2; Irrelevant, my point was that “England” is not GB&NI.

        @James Matthews; “Should the Head of the Commonwealth relocate to Scotland the Scots can pick up the tab.”

        Upon any iEngland (and likely “Patriation”) the Queen would still be the Head of State, unless of course we also chose to become a republic too of course. Oh and surely what wealth the Queen has is hers, an iEngland would only have call upon the wealth of her office as Head of State and only then on a pro rata scale.

        “Mind you, the idea that in such a scenario the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish would agree on much beyond dislike of the English seems preposterous.”

        I suspect that the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish probably see far more eye to eye with each other than they do with England and especially the English centric Westminster, hence the clamour for at least devolution.

        1. Edward2
          January 19, 2016

          That’s the point Jerry
          You were making the strange scenario where the Queen decides to leave London and relocate to one or other UK nations.
          I was just pointing out how unlikely that was.
          I know what England is thanks.

          1. Jerry
            January 20, 2016

            @Edard2; “You were making the strange scenario where the Queen decides to leave London and relocate to one or other UK nations.”

            The Queen deciding to live in the United Kingdom, for whom she is the Monarch, is not strange at all, even more so if her official duties are there to…!

            “I know what England is thanks.”

            No you do not, we only actually know what we think ourselves, you might think you know what others are thinking but they might be lying or indeed playing the Devils Advocate. 😉

          2. Edward2
            January 21, 2016

            Don’t be so hard on yourself Jerry
            As long as you enjoy playing the devil’s advocate then feel free to continue.

          3. Jerry
            January 23, 2016

            @Edward2; “As long as you enjoy playing the devil’s advocate then feel free to continue.”

            Indeed I will, and as such I will carry on testing the worth of such arguments that get put forward, as I did here. Anyways, as it was only you who seems to miss my entire point I will not bother to take any lessons in how to debate an issue from you thanks!

            At least this debate has proved one thing, it is not just those in the USA who mistakenly think that Great Britain = just England, some people in England also think that way, no wonder the three nations that make up GB&NI got feed up and sort devolution/independence.

  18. William Long
    January 17, 2016

    I quite agree that it is essential to have the historic backdrop in mind when any great constitutional move is in train. It is particulary apposite in this case because the ‘demos’ for the coming referendum is the existing UK as a whole, and there may very well be widely differing results in its different constituent parts.
    England has most of the population and the bulk of the assets and could well vote by a decisive margin to leave, while the other countries reversed that by an overwhelming vote to stay. This is of course what might trigger a weakening or even dissollution of the Union. From many points of view the English part is so predominant that the departure of others would not seem a disaster; one great exception though is in the area of defence, and the effect of the loss of the Southern Irish ports on the protection of the Western Approaches and Battle of the Atlantic is a good illustration of this.
    To me, this makes some form of federal solution seem the best answer, with central responsibility for defence and all countries retaining the common Monarchy, affection for which seems likely to continue to be the best cement we have.
    One would hope that the Government is doing some contingency planning, but following Lizz Truss’s statement to the Oxford Farming Conference one cannot have much confidence.

  19. Bert Young
    January 17, 2016

    As the power of the monarchy declined the power of the people increased ; today the democracy we have is reduced by the influence of the EU in our affairs . When we vote we expect our representatives to form and make the laws that govern us and to maintain the standards we have reached and expect ; this is not true now – eg witness river dredging and other enviromental conditions imposed from outside .

    In the past when monarchy overstepped the mark public protest and resistance forced change ; our way of life has been modelled by our electorate and it is reasonable to expect this condition to continue . The present is a transparency to the past and those who deny this evidence do so at their peril .

    1. Jerry
      January 18, 2016

      @Bert Young; “today the democracy we have is reduced by the influence of the EU in our affairs . When we vote we expect our representatives to form and make the laws that govern us and to maintain the standards we have reached and expect ; this is not true now”

      Are you talking about the four nations that make up the UK, the 28 nations that make up the EU or the 50 states that make up the USA, your comment could apply to all… No doubt though that some of the citizens of ‘The Lone Star State’, for example, do expect their state government to be the superior Legislature!

      ” – eg witness river dredging and other enviromental conditions imposed from outside .”

      Except no other EU member country has problems, only in the UK has such Directives been misinterpreted and then gold plated by both government and their Quangos.

      Let’s fight for a Brexit on the facts, not half truths and misconceptions, the electorate are not daft and nor our those who wish to stay in, the last thing the Brexit side need are own-goals.

  20. Pete
    January 17, 2016

    The only people that don’t get a say in whether they want to remain in this union, it seems, are the English. We are expected to fund whatever socialist paradise the Scots or Welsh politicians dream up to bribe their electorate but as usual it’s none of our business. If we dare to suggest that England should be independent of freeloaders we are racist or nationalist or whatever politically incorrect term the political elite come up with.
    Let England have a referendum, not just on the EU but the union too. Of course that will never happen, too many of the so called democrats have vested interests.

  21. RB
    January 17, 2016

    Yet again the BBC have Nick Clegg on saying the choice is do we “want to stay in the EU or be completely isolated”, he then implied if we left the EU we would no longer negotiate with them about anything meaningful.

    This is disgraceful. Can someone STOP the pro EU side saying, “the choice is to be in the EU or completely isolated”. Clegg then invoked our grandchildren in the analagy and was basically saying, if you vote to leave the EU then our grandchildren will be “completely isolated”.

    1. Jerry
      January 18, 2016

      @RB; “This is disgraceful. Can someone STOP the pro EU side saying, “the choice is to be in the EU or completely isolated””

      Let then say what they wish, but the BBC and all broadcasters must allow a right of reply in the same programme, next week or month is not good enough, that way we get a debate not an unchallenged Statements of “fact”.

      Anyway, if the Europhiles were stopped from saying the above what point of debate might the Brexit side be prevented from mentioning?

      But quite frankly if the Brexit side are getting so upset about the ever more shrill comments of those who are ex officials of the EU (a fact that that simply needs pointing out to the public, along with for example EU pension qualifications and requirements, how not to loose them that is…) then we can’t have much of a argument ourselves.

  22. They Work for Us?
    January 17, 2016

    Thank you for your useful resume of England’s background, a background and history that many politicians would prefer to forget. The Parliamentary bubble do need to be reminded that they are often the tail that is being quite wrongly allowed to wag the dog and that it is England that largely funds their schemes without a commensurate say.
    Radio 4 had a 10 minute program this morning commenting on an English National Anthem. The most popular, “Jerusalem” and “Land of Hope and Glory” we’re of course immediately dismissed by the presenter as smacking of the past that was no longer appropriate and that what was needed was a new composition that would reflect fairness, inclusion etc etc – there seems to a consistent and continuous attack on the End and the English whose aim is to make us disappear in favour of a new left wing construct.
    Off topic – petrol.
    Herr Schauble wants an EU petrol tax to fund Frau Merkel’s Immigrant folly, I hope there is no way this will be agreed. Frau Merkel should carry full responsibility for the folly of her actions.
    I see there is a proposal to implement E10 petrol biofuel, 10% alcohol.
    I hope this will be rigorously opposed on environmental and technical grounds.
    Petrol and oil are not in short supply and so we don’t need to adulterated petrol with alcohol. Growing crops to ferment to make a fuel that we don’t need is questionable when the world can’t feed itself. E10 will be less fuel efficient than unadulterated petrol and so we will use more of it.
    The water that the alcohol absorbs (quite quickly) will present problems for the ordinary citizen in petrol storage (water in petrol settling out) and causing metal corrosion. Also older cars have rubber seals, tubes and components that were not designed to be used with alcohol at this level and will need replacement parts and seals that will need to be specially manufactures.
    Please resist E10 or get a guarantee that “Super Unleaded” remains alcohol free or E5%.
    Why do we allow the EU to interest in our lives in this way, out, out, out.

    1. Jerry
      January 18, 2016

      @TWfU; “Growing crops to ferment to make a fuel that we don’t need is questionable when the world can’t feed itself.”

      Best tell that to the USA then…

      I whole heartedly agree with the general thrust of your argument though, but as the EU is also making (other far reaching) proposals [1] for classic cars, that will enshrine their status, perhaps there is a case for pushing for a “classic” grade of petrol should E10 become an (unwelcome) reality.

      [1] which are before the national governments now, to come into effect in 2018, I hope that our government will accept the full measures – either as a EU directive (currently politically difficult I suspect!) or as stand-alone legislation that would thus comply with the EU directive. Having said that though, all classic car ownership must be made to be about preserving the past, not cheap day-to-day motoring.

  23. Denis Cooper
    January 17, 2016

    Also off-topic:

    BSE is having a leaflet delivered to every household extolling the virtues of the EU.

    Would it not be a good idea for those on the Leave side to arrange for an equivalent delivery of parts of the text of Harold Wilson’s leaflet for the 1975 referendum:


    with a commentary pointing out how deceitful it was, and how the promises made then were simply ignored once the referendum was over?

    One problem for the Leave side is you have to be aged at least 59 to have been eligible to vote in the 1975 referendum, and those people make up less than a third of the present UK electorate. Like me they can and many of them may well say “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”, but that doesn’t apply to the other two thirds who weren’t fooled in 1975 because they were too young or not even born.

    The most that two thirds and more of the present voters could say would be “You fooled my parents and grandparents, but you won’t fool me”, and to say that they have to know that many of their parents and grandparents were fooled by Wilson’s lies in 1975 and see that Cameron is trying the same kind of trickery now.

  24. oldtimer
    January 17, 2016

    A very useful reminder of how greasy the political pole can be. The current monarch has, to all outwards appearances, played a canny hand both in going with the domestic political flow and in promoting and helping to cement the idea of the Commonwealth. I am less confident about the future incumbent.

  25. Mark B
    January 17, 2016

    Good morning.

    As very interesting post today.

    Kings and Queens’, or to put into a better context, Tribal Leaders, are now mostly for ceremonial duties having first, given their powers to parliament. The second, giving them to a Supra-National body like the EU.

    Today the figurehead of our nation is more symbolic than actual. I do not expect, age not being taken to account, the current Queen Elizabeth to follow in the footsteps of her ancestor and namesake, to stand at Tilbury and make a solemn oath over the matter of Foreign Princes and their desire to rule her realm in her place. 😉

    The modern Prime Minster is now, in my opinion, a new Sun King. He has all the powers of a King, but has the unfortunate disadvantage of having to be re-elected by the great unwashed. No such limitations I might add are placed upon the great denizens of Brussels and Strasbourg. Oh no, there must be no limitations to true great power that these people need in order to rule a continent. /sarc

    When most of those monarch’s were either deposed or killed, it was because they had not only a liability, but a real threat to the people. The people and parliament need protection from absolute power. Because as they say; “Power corrupts, but absolute power, corrupts absolutly.”

    1. DaveM
      January 18, 2016

      People have said for years that the PM has presidential powers but that we don’t have a presidential election.

      Regardless, the monarch was traditionally the gold-giver and the protector of the people who worked and fought for him. The current leader of our country gives all our money away and refuses to protect us from anything or anyone.

      I am very familiar with the history of our country, and traditionally a monarch who fails in the two basic duties I mentioned above didn’t last very long. But then they were generally surrounded by people who had a bit of steel in their blood, unlike today’s pathetic politicians.

      Good luck Angela. What are you doing for your people?

  26. A.Sedgwick
    January 17, 2016

    The Union is largely academic given the likely successful onslaught of propaganda from pro EU interests. The bookies have our leaving at 2/1, which looks fair enough. The disorganised Leave factions and the wet “Eurosceptic” MPs look like handing Cameron and his EU mates a victory on his pathetic renegotiation, not worthy of the name, which the casual voter will swallow with all the scaremongering and friendly persuasion that will be forthcoming. The rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster will become pointless, best sell it for housing development and move the Rump of the UK Goverment close to Heathrow, Gatwick or St.Pancras.

  27. Lifelogic
    January 17, 2016

    Some good news it seems the absurd Swansea lagoon has hit the rocks Mr Cameron having, is seems, changed his mind. But as Christopher Booker says in the Sunday Telegraph how on Earth did the fall for this nonsense in the first place.

    Excellent piece on on Rudd and the energy nonsense too.

  28. RB
    January 17, 2016

    The BBC also ran with the second biggest story this morning that someone said if we leave the EU we “will be left in a void”.

    1. Lifelogic
      January 17, 2016

      Well what do you expect of the pro EU, climate alarmist, fake green, magic money tree, ever higher taxes, every more regulation, ever more fake “equality”, open door immigration, ever more “human rights” BBC?

      They are after all always the enemy of what actually works to benefit the people as a whole.

    2. Lifelogic
      January 17, 2016

      Even a void is better than being sucked into the EU Vortex.

    3. Jerry
      January 18, 2016

      @RB; Well in a way they are correct, a vote for a Brexit will create a void, until the details are filled in, which in the case of a protracted Article 50 exit could be a large void were the UK would have little or no influence within EU policy making but also have little influence outside of the EU because we can not take back our rightful place at the various worldwide organisations such as the WTO.

      If, as I hope we do, vote for a Brexit then I also hope that we make it clear that our membership is effectively over and that the UK will act for its own good from Referendum day +1 and if that conflicts with EU rules then best the EU get on an finalise the UK’s formal exit and not extent it as they could might under A50.

  29. Margaret
    January 17, 2016

    The conflicts are not as messy today as the church does not ( or should not interfere) although the monarch herself does not put the state before the church. We would also not allow atrocities like beheading instead of divorce to arise to day .etc ed
    EVEL will become Law . As you say it is only fair.

  30. RB
    January 17, 2016

    We need to get the BBC back under British control.

    1. Jerry
      January 18, 2016

      @RB; “We need to get the BBC back under British control.”

      Don’t you mean English control! 🙂

      Anyway, the last time I checked, the BBC was under the control of the UK parliament by way of Royal Charter (up for renewal this year), but you are correct, best that all broadcasters and media outlets are owned and run by UK nationals and corporations…..

  31. Ian wragg
    January 17, 2016

    Now we have a Scots pretender willing to subsume us into a (united EU ed) telling us its the right thing to do.
    We have a wonderful history and all the toil and bloodshed will be for nought if left to the 5th column that rules us.

  32. Boudicca
    January 17, 2016

    Our English attitude to our Monarchy goes back to Anglo Saxon England when our Kings were strong men who were effectively chosen for their ability to protect the Kingdom. There was no automatic right of succession for the first-born male.

    So over the centuries, power has been exercised to rid us of a weak King or one who exercised power without the consent of the nobles (and latterly people).

    I suppose it’s too much to hope we could do the same with the current Heir who I think will be a dreadful, divisive King.

  33. agricola
    January 17, 2016

    While only two contributions are moderated and I hope you are enjoying an excellent Sunday lunch I feel moved to comment on the immigrant situation that has boiled over in Germany.

    The people of Germany are in a moral dilemma. Angela Merkel may have felt that she was doing the right thing, increasing her working population and responding to the humanitarian need. However her come on in policy is a disaster and I think she is beginning to realise it.

    The refugees of Syria are more than likely well educated and sympatico with western European values, apart that is from the odd imbedded terrorist. Shengen would seem to prevent the proper application of a filter to eliminate the latter. Many North African economic migrants are not. etc ed

    Hence the idiocy of Angela Merkel’s gesture and all the sexual mayhem in Cologne and elsewhere. The lesson is that oil and water do not mix, but because Angela Merkel did not realise this she has inadvertently triggered political consequences for Europe that the EU was designed, very badly, to avoid ever again.

    The moral is that the EU is ill designed and led, we would be extremely badly advised to persist with it, whatever CMD is brewing up.

    Reply I was organising an ITN interview on the EU

    1. agricola
      January 17, 2016

      I still hope you got your lunch. There is an argument for having a proper day off on Sunday. I also thought etc.,ed was overly sensitive.

    2. Anonymous
      January 17, 2016

      Frau Merkel lied when she said that the migrants were invited to fill work vacancies (she could have invited Greeks – the country she helped wreck)

      She knew that she couldn’t stop them so ‘filling vacancies’ was just spin.

      Now she’s lied again about the rate of sexual assaults.

      The Germans will not put up with this sort of thing like the British (should I say English) already have.

      The Germans are showing us what xenophobia looks like but it is we (the English) that are accused of it. German anti immigrant rioters are exactly how the BBC loves to depict us (the white English) in so many of its dramas – yet we’ve never done it.

      The Left – never to criticise extreme Islam – are apopleptic about the risk of the Right Wing backlash in England. The one that will never come because we really aren’t like that – but not one single person in Parliament will point out in our defence.

  34. Nick
    January 17, 2016

    I don’t see any option mentioned where England get to make a decision.

    Just the Welsh, Scots and Irish.

    That’s why Westminster is the problem.

  35. Lifelogic
    January 17, 2016

    So Jeremy Corbyn says he would keep submarines patrolling the World but without any nuclear weapons! Then he wants to control rents (thus killing the supply of rented property), restrict dividends from companies that do not pay the living wage (thus destroying their ability to raise capital and invest). He has no sensible suggestions for the NHS other than more of the magic money tree. Then he wants the state sector unions to be allowed to bring the country to its knees again.

    He clearly is totally bonkers – he even makes IHT ratter, endless tax increasing, pension and landlord thief & socialist George Osborne seem relatively sound.

    1. JoeSoap
      January 17, 2016

      So we have a choice of bonkers or slippery.
      If Corbyn is talking shareholders and employees being treated fairly and equally, then my employees have to work for their first 6 months without pay and put up £100k collateral when they start with the company. Daft as a brush.

      1. Lifelogic
        January 18, 2016


  36. Anonymous
    January 17, 2016

    Please forget it, John.

    Even if the Outs win the referendum we will never be allowed to leave the EU.

    England is finished for many reasons – the EU is but one.

    UKIP supporters who believed the PM’s guff and switched to voting Tory are only just finding out that he’s taking council from Peter Mandelson.

    Even you – a leading Eurosceptic – has breached the UKIP switcher’s trust by rejoicing about the loss in UKIP’s vote.

    Had I been a UKIP – to – Tory switcher I’d be very upset with you for that. Fortunately I knew better and predicted that that is exactly what you would do.

    Reply I do not recall rejoicing, but when UKIP stand against me with the apparent aim of getting a Lib Dem or Labour elected instead of me I need to argue my case. The crucial thing was to secure the referendum, as we now have. That required a Conservative government. Try using the advantage it brings!

    1. Anonymous
      January 17, 2016


    2. JoeSoap
      January 17, 2016

      I think UKIP stood against you because they didn’t trust your party in government to renegotiate adequately to return sovereignty before the referendum. Was UKIP correct?

    January 17, 2016

    Off Topic.
    It has been over 10 hours since Mr Corbyn’s interview on the Marr show.
    Social media is still buzzing in disbelief that he has suggested nuclear subs patrol without weapons.

    Also that a Trades Union leader with even as much as just 16% of his own membership’s vote…years ago in a ballot, applauds the idea because useless submarines floating about the world would save his members jobs, presumably building more useless subs.
    How much longer can Mr Corbyn last?

    1. Lifelogic
      January 18, 2016

      A shame the Osborne line is, in many respects, nearly as daft as Corbyn’s. With his endless pension & landlord/tenant robbing and the avalanche of tax increases and tax complexity increases and government waste everywhere you look.

    2. hefner
      January 18, 2016

      Isn’t it possible to have submarines without nuclear missiles, but plain vanilla ones? As far as I know, the missiles launched by the US Navy in recent conflicts were rather efficient.
      It is incredible how some people on this blog are unable to listen or understand properly. A little bit biased to start wth etc ed?

  38. Ale Bro
    January 18, 2016

    The statement that that England has democratic leanings is really not a true reflection of the facts – universal suffrage for all (i.e. taking into account gender and property rights) was only achieved in 1928, less than ninety years ago.

    I haven’t seen any hint of an English penchant for democracy. There’s no chance of having a directly elected second chamber, of being able to directly vote for a leader, or of citizens directly approving primary legislation. These are democratic rights available in many countries at the moment, and it’s a shame that expanding democratic rights isn’t on the table.

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