"A Very British Transition" - A Post-Junta Britain TL

Chapter 15: Three Line Whip

Charlie Falconer, a native Scot, was promoted to Home Secretary in the hopes he could control political violence in the region

“Peter Tatchell has been sacked as Home Secretary in Alan Johnson's first Cabinet reshuffle. The Prime Minister is trying to regain momentum after violence in Scotland gave him a hit in the polls. Mr Tatchell will be replaced by Public Administrations Secretary Charlie Falconer. Rosie Boycott is the new Education Secretary, with John Prescott sacked as Agriculture Secretary. Glenda Jackson will stay in Cabinet but be demoted to Prescott's old job. Peter Hain replaces Falconer and gets Public Administrations. The SDP is currently polling at 45%, down 2 points. Whilst National have crept up in the polls to 40%, up 2 points. The SDP's polling slip, as well as June's Referendum prompted Mr Johnson to push ahead with a reshuffle just over a year into his term.”
- Time Runs Out for Tatchell, The Economist (2006)

With the EU referendum months away, Prime Minister Johnson didn’t want any nasty surprises, all the pieces had to be in place and any potential roadblocks had to be removed. This meant first and foremost, a Cabinet reshuffle, to ensure any potential headaches could be removed. A reshuffle had been on the cards for several months, considering Johnson’s increasingly fractious relationship with his party’s left wing. The recent terror attacks had stalled the SDP’s momentum, and National were beginning to slowly close the polling gap, Johnson had to reclaim initiative.

A nasty surprise came when General Mike Jackson, former First Lord and Secretary of State for Defence, would be taking this opportunity to retire. Jackson had served as Hill-Norton’s right hand man during the liberalisation of the early 2000s and was partly seen as responsible for Britain’s transition to democracy. Whilst he and Johnson had clashed, Jackson had remained loyal to democracy and the administration, refusing to speak against the government in public. Some thought Jackson would be returning to National, perhaps even to overthrow Tim Collins, but Jackson told the press he wanted a quiet retirement to write his memoirs of the Junta years.

Jackson’s departure was bad news for the administration, whilst all other Cabinet members were appointed by the Prime Minister, under the Cardiff Accords the Secretary of Defence was appointed by the Joint Chiefs and a clique of senior military officers. Many within the military believed Jackson had been too soft on the SDP, refusing to speak out and protect the military’s power. This led to the nomination of retired Field Marshal Charles Guthrie as Defence Secretary and the military’s representative in government. Guthrie was a hardliner, and worse a prominent Eurosceptic. As Johnson unveiled the rest of his Cabinet, the military had sent a clear message.

“Former defence chief Charles Guthrie has come against joining the EU, saying he is worried by the prospect of "a European army". He told the Telegraph he believed remaining outside the EU "is better for defence". There are two months to go until the UK decides on its future with the European Union, in a referendum on the 8th of June. In his interview Guthrie said "We should prioritise joining NATO. A European army could damage defence. It is expensive. It's unnecessary duplication to have it. It would appeal to some Euro vanity thing," he said. "There's a feeling that those backing the European army are doing it for political reasons rather than military ones. They want to be able to boast, 'Look! We've got a European army'. That is dangerous." - Ex-army chief Lord Guthrie supports to No vote, BBC News (2006)


Guthire was expected to have a more fractious relationship with the civilian Government

Alan Johnson Cabinet 2006-
  • Prime Minister - Alan Johnson (SDP)
  • Deputy Prime Minister - Alan Milburn (SDP)
  • Chancellor of the Exchequer - Simon Hughes (SDP)
  • Foreign Secretary - Tony Blair (SDP)
  • Justice Secretary - David Miliband (SDP)
  • Defence Secretary - Field Marshal Charles Guthrie (Military)
  • Home Secretary - Charlie Falconer (SDP)
  • Development Secretary - Jack Straw (SDP)
  • Education Secretary - Rosie Boycott (SDP)
  • Industry, Tourism and Trade Secretary - Chris Huhne (SDP)
  • Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Secretary - Glenda Jackson (SDP)
  • Public Administrations Secretary - Peter Hain (SDP)
  • Culture Secretary - John Reid (SDP)
  • Health Secretary - Susan Kramer (SDP)
  • Environment Secretary - Valerie Amos (SDP)
  • Housing Secretary - Polly Toynbee (SDP)


Europhille Rosie Boycott was promoted to education

Despite all the hype the reshuffle was fairly muted, perhaps because Guthrie’s appointment had taken the wind out of Johnson’s sails. The left had their wings clipped, with Peter Tatchell and John Prescott both taking their leave from the Cabinet whilst Glenda Jackson was demoted to Agriculture Secretary. Charlie Falconer was promoted to Home Secretary for his strong work in Scotland and Rosie Boycott was promoted to Education Secretary. Both politicians had won plaudits in the press and were effective ministers and more importantly they were passionate europhilles, happy to go out to bat on TV and make the case for EU membership.

Johnson’s reshuffle was perceived by pundits as a shift to the right after clashes with the trade unions. Whilst Tatchell had been on his way out for months the sacking of Prescott came as a shock. Whilst he was the most eurosceptic member of the Cabinet, he had been staunchly loyal to Johnson and many had seen him as untouchable due to his close relationship with the unions. But with so much of the administration resting on EU accession, no dissident could be risked, Europe was the issue for the SDP, it’s MPs could either accept that or get out the way.

Over the river on the blue team, National leader Tim Collins had a choice to make, whilst he was personally pro-European there was a large eurosceptic contingent amongst his hardliners. Collins could either force his will on the National caucus, with all the risks that entailed, or he could allow Shadow Ministers to campaign as they pleased and spend yet another political event sitting on the sidelines. Collins retreated to his metaphorical Norman Shaw bunker, surrounded by his closest aides. After pouring over opinion polls and discussions with his former mentor Mike Jackson, Collins finally made his announcement, National would be campaigning to join the EU, the coiled whip was unfurled.

“Britain will be “permanently richer” if voters choose to join the EU, Tim Collins has said as he declared his support for a yes vote. A recent Treasury study claimed the economy would grow by 6% by 2030, benefiting every household the equivalent of £4,000 a year. Decisively throwing his weight behind the yes team, Collins said staying out of the EU would be a “self-inflicted wound”. Collins' support is likely to enrage the hardline faction of his party, with as many as 70 National MPs expected to break ranks and back a no vote. Some Collins aides such as Chief Whip William Hague had encouraged him to stay neutral for the sake of party unity. In a Times article the National Leader wrote: “The conclusion is clear for Britain’s economy and for families. Staying out of the EU would be the most extraordinary self-inflicted wound.” - Collins declares for Yes vote, Michael White, The Guardian (2006)


Now both major parties were backing Britain's entry into the EU
Wikibox: Socialist Alternative

The Socialist Alternative is a political coalition of several left-wing organisations.

SA was founded as a coalition of parties, trade unions and former paramilitary groups, with the Communist Party forming the largest member. Alongside the Communists SA brings together other regional parties, political organizations, and independents. It currently takes the form of a permanent federation of parties.

The Socialist Alternative currently gives Confidence and Supply to the Johnson Government. As of 2006 it's leader is former Paramilitary John McDonnell.

The political left, especially the underground communist party, played a large role in resistance to the British Junta. With the transition, Communist leaders worried the party would struggle to remain relevant. With this premise, the Communists began developing closer relations with other left-wing groups. The founding organizations were: Communist Party of Britain, Socialist Workers Party, Left List, Socialist Labour Party, Association of Communist Workers, Socialist Party, Militant, and the Socialist Appeal.

The Socialist Alternative is divided between its pragmatist and radical factions. The pragmatists, including figures like John McDonnell and Michael Meacher, support cooperation with the SDP. The radicals, including figures like Salma Yaqoob and Bob Crow generally oppose cooperating with the SDP. They identify the SDP it as a "right-wing party", no different from the National Party.

The Socialist Alternative currently has around 100,000 members.
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Chapter 16: Let the Games Begin

National hardliner Robert Kilroy-Silk resigned from the Shadow Cabinet to become the face of the No Campaign

“The accession referendum campaign has begun - 10 weeks before Britain decides whether to join the union. Political heavyweights from Yes and No will use rallies across the UK to try and persuade voters of their opposing cases. Robert Kilory-Silk will kick off a "patriotic blitz" as the first day of the official EU referendum campaign gets underway. Kilroy-Silk will make a series of speeches as the No campaign utilities a politician they see as their biggest asset in convincing Britons of staying out. The Pound will be placed at the centre of their campaign, with Mr Kilroy-Silk claiming that the Euro would be a disaster for Britain's finances. No claims the cost of converting the pound into the euro could be diverted to the military to protect Britain's independence.”
- ITV News Broadcast Excerpt (2006)

As the referendum date grew near the final preparations had to be made for purdah, and the official election period. This meant both sides of the referendum had to designate an official campaign with a board and chair. The SDP, National and SNP were brought together, alongside a smattering of smaller pro-European parties came together to negotiate an official Yes campaign. Collins and Johnson got on well, making negotiations significantly easier, the Yes campaign agreed that Deputy Prime Minister Alan Milburn would serve as the campaign’s chair, with Shadow Chancellor Nick Clegg serving as Vice Chair. The Yes campaign’s 19 strong board would be represented by nine SDP politicians, eight from national, one from the SNP and one representing smaller parties such as Plaid Cymru and the SDLP.

Negotiations among the No campaign were much more fractious, the anti-EU crowd was a motley crew of National hardliners, Socialist Alternative old guard, and various mavericks from the Yes parties. Arguments erupted over who should lead the campaign, the SA, the only parliamentary party with an anti-EU leadership argued they should lead the campaign, whilst the 45 MP strong caucus of “Nationalists for Britain” argued since they had more MPs. Eventually negotiations would break down with both organisations nominating separate campaigns, the left-wing campaign offered up John McDonnell as the Chair of “No! For the People!” Whilst the right wing campaign nominated Development Secretary Robert Kilroy Silk as the Chair of “Britain for No”.

The Electoral Commission would designate “Britain for No” as the official campaign, pointing to it’s greater support in Parliament as well as it’s much more extensive funds. The British left were effectively shut out of the European debate. John McDonnell decried the Commission’s exclusion, promising an “insurgent” no campaign led from the grassroots. Of course considering his history, McDonnell’s choice of words netted him much criticism, especially considering the state of political violence in Britain, with most of the leading trade unions throwing their political weight, and significant financial capital, behind the Yes campaign, the eurosceptic left was certainly marginalised.


The RMT would be one of the largest unions to advocate a No vote

“Mainstream British parties experienced varying degrees of agonizing over whether to support accession. The centre-left party of government (SDP) was far more united than its Socialist Alternative sister party. The house divided was the National Party whose leadership has been at odds over the pursuit of European integration. Leader Tim Collins exerted a great deal of political capital advocating a party line supporting accession. Even so, this failed to quell intra-party strife, leading to Shadow Development Secretary Robert Kilroy Silk's now infamous decision to campaign for a ‘Patriotic No’. Thus the largest opposition party was split. On voting day it thus came as no surprise that National voters were torn between the two camps. Extremist parties of both left (SA) and right (NPP) had far fewer qualms in opposing accession.”
- the 2005 British Referendum, Lecture by Andrew Glencross, Cambridge University (2013)

Kilroy-Silk had emerged as the Eurosceptic’s leader, other key National Eurosceptics such as Shadow Foreign Secretary David Davis and Shadow Education Secretary Liam Fox had kept their mouths shut in order to keep their Shadow Cabinet jobs, not officially coming out in favour of the No campaign. Kilroy-Silk would be a formidable challenger to Milburn, former Head Anchor at the BBC and effective mouthpiece of the Junta; he was charismatic and well-known. Kilroy-Silk had long been considered Tim Collins’ biggest rival on the right of National, a strong performance in this referendum could pave the way for a leadership challenge. With the board set the referendum campaign could officially begin.


Collins had banked his leadership on this referendum

Despite Kilroy-Silk’s star power, the no campaign still had a mountain to climb. Due to the vast economic benefits and Britain’s desire to rejoin the international community, the BBC had the referendums polling average as 62%/38% in favour of joining. Among younger Britons desperate to find work in wealthier parts of Europe the margin was ever more overwhelming. The only caveat to the British people’s enthusiasm for accession was the issue of the Euro, with Johnson unable to gain concessions on the pound Britain would be joining the Eurozone with the EU. Many Brits, especially the older ones, were strongly attached to the pound. The No campaign knew the only way to shift the balance was to bring the Pound to the top of the political agenda.

There was also the worry of political violence, many EU member states, especially those closely connected to Britain like France and Ireland worried that free movement would allow British terror groups (and all their weaponry) free reign to enter mainland Europe. Britain had to show the international community the referendum could be conducted in a peaceful manner. This would be especially difficult as both the largest Red Brigade cells and Civil Assistance both opposed EU membership. Civil Assistance backed demonstrations marched through London the day purdah was officially announced, predictably ending in riots, meanwhile Arthur Scargill, leader of the largest dissident faction of the Red Brigades, announced there would be “blood on the barricades” should Britain join the “capitalist boys club” of the EU.

Arguably the referendum would prove more of a challenge to Britain’s fledgling democracy than even the 2005 election, voter intimidation, political violence and divided parties were all major risks of the referendum. Some more radical members of the yes campaign even advised Johnson to call off the national poll, instead ascending via a simple Parliamentary vote. But it was too late now, the date had been signed and Johnson was in no mood to emulate the tyrants of the past, Britain’s great political debate would be happening, all they had to do was try and keep things gentlemanly.

“The chairman of the Police Federation has warned campaigners against using "intemperate language". This comes after a senior Yes campaign source suggested that polling day could descend into "carnage". Alan Gordon said: "The independence debate must be robust but good-natured. It would prove a disservice to those who have participated in it thus far to suggest that Britain is about to disintegrate into carnage." Earlier, Alan Milburn, the leader of the Yes campaign, said he would talk to police about his "concerns about the temperature of the debate". Gordon added: "Politicians of whichever point of view need to be mindful of the potential impact of intemperate language. Lest they be seen to seek to create a self-fulfilling prophecy." - Referendum sides told to keep campaigns civil and peaceful, Matthew Tempest, The Guardian (2006)


Many feared the referendum could lead to an uptick in violence
Wikibox: Vote No

Vote No is a campaigning organisation that supported a "No" vote in the 2006 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum. On 12 March 2006 it was designated by the Electoral Commission as the official campaign against joining the European Union.

Vote No was founded in November 2005 by Nick Ferrari and Douglas Carswell as a cross-party campaign. It involved Members of Parliament from the National Party, Social Democratic Party and a sole SNP MP, Gordon Wilson. National MP Robert Kilroy-Silk served as Chairman and Leader of the Campaign with Secretary Jonathon Riley. Many prominent National politicians supported the campaign; including David Bannerman, Chris Grayling and Cheryl Gillan. The campaign was also supported by the hardline One-Nation Caucus of National MPs

Vote No co-operated with SDP No, Nationalists for No, and Business for Britain.
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Are Adam Werrity and Liam Fox still best buddies?
Very much so, Fox served as Health Secretary in the dying days of the Junta and Werrity his Chief of Staff, Werrity remained in post when National went into opposition, now he's on a "sabbatical" to the No Campaign
Chapter 17: Boring Old Democracy

"What if Tony Blair had been assassinated during the 2006 Referendum" - Post on ITTL Alt History Forum

“Foreign Secretary Tony Blair today survived an assassination attempt by a "disturbed neo-Mountbattenite." The man pulled a grenade from a guitar case and threw it at the Foreign Secretary. He struck as Blair, standing at a lectern tens of metres away, was giving a speech in favour of acceding to the EU. Cries of alarm from members of the crowd alerted police, who wrestled him to the ground. One of Blair's bodyguards was killed whilst another was injured. Edinburgh police said in a statement that the man was 25 years old and a member of "neo-Mountbattenite and hooligan" groups. Police did not release his name. But an officer close to the investigation said the assailant was linked to the far-right group, Civil Assistance. Police later transferred the man to a psychiatric facility, BBC news reported.”
- Blair escapes assassination attempt, Associated Press (2006)

The Campaign didn’t get off to a brilliant start. Foreign Secretary Tony Blair narrowly survived an assassination attempt at a rally in Edinburgh as a young Civil Assistance member through a grenade at his lectern, Blair only sustained minor injuries but one of his personal protective officers were killed in the blast and dozens were injured in the ensuing stampede. With the eyes of the world on them the security services had been proactive in stamping out dissident paramilitaries, meaning the Edinburgh attack was an exception rather than the rule some had feared. Due to heightened police pressure many of the larger and more experienced paramilitaries had gone underground, leaving the smaller and more inexperienced cells. Most paramilitary actions would have little to no casualties, rather than the mass bombing events of the last few years.

The Yes campaign’s main enemy wasn’t the No campaign or even the various paramilitaries, it was voter apathy. Without a mass democratic culture many electors were simply not bothered about voting and with Yes taking such a commanding lead many saw turnout as the true sign of legitimacy rather than the vote itself. Johnson especially worried a Yes victory on a turnout of less than 60% would leave the door open for contestation and cause doubt in the mind of EU leaders, Yes’ victory had to be overwhelming, both in terms of vote share and in terms of turnout.

Intimidation tactics by Civil Assistance aside, one big threat to the Yes campaign was its own success, with a Yes victory seemingly guaranteed many Yes voters were thinking about not turning out. At a speech in Plymouth alongside Devon Provincial President Nick Harvey, Yes chair Alan Milburn encouraged voters to take part in the “Once in a lifetime” opportunity to decide Britain’s future, pointing to the huge economic benefits EU accession would bring to the South West. It was a similar argument made by Yes campaigners up and down the country, whilst the numbers added up, some worried an academic argument wasn’t what they needed to boost turnout.


Milburn was a competent, if not particularly exciting, face of the campaign

“Nearly all those working in UK higher education will vote Yes in the European Union referendum, a Times survey suggests. The poll, which gained 2,000 responses, found that 92.5 percent of respondents intend to vote Yes and 5.5 per cent No, with 1.9 percent undecided. There were 300,000 staff employed in UK higher education in 2005 and their likely overwhelming backing for the EU will boost the Yes cause. Over half said that they would be more likely to leave the UK for another EU country in the event of a Yes vote. Many respondents said that freedom of movement within the EU would bring them career benefits. John Curtice, identified several factors that could explain Yes' strength among university staff. He said that universities "epitomised liberal resistance to the Junta", and that “it’s in universities interests to join the EU”.
- Nine out of 10 university staff back Yes, The Times (2006)

Things weren’t much more interesting on the No side, whilst Kilroy-Silk was famous for his bombastic rants, the No campaign was a lot more subdued, making arguments around sovereignty and protecting Britain’s traditional values from the liberal instincts of the EU’s leadership. Even the pound, No’s great ace in the hole failed to gain traction, there was a particularly humorous gaffe where No supporting MP Chris Grayling failed to name a single benefit to keeping the pound when pressed by the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman. With Britain’s economy in the toilet and it’s international reputation in tatters, the pound wasn’t as culturally powerful as it was 40 years ago, many polls showed younger voters slipping into apathy around the pound, apathy quickly became the word of the campaign.


Even the ever-controversial Kilroy was behaving himself

Desperate to add a bit of life to the campaign the BBC arranged a one to one debate between both campaign chairs, Milburn and Kilroy-Silk in the first ever US-style political debate. Whilst this was greatly hyped up by the commentariat the debate too ended up being a damp squib, the event was plagued by technical issues, backdrops fell down, Kilroy-Silk’s mic occasionally cut out, and at one point all the lights went out. When things were working the two politicians traded blows but nothing managed to hit, Kilroy-Silk spoke about sovereignty whilst Milburn spoke about the economy without much interaction, one journalist commented the debate was “two blokes in a room giving a lecture at the same time”.

The disaster of the debate became a point of mockery globally, indicative of how far Britain had fallen, without any real “October Surprise” the polls stayed locked in their 60/40 battle, whilst this was good news for Milburn as he was winning it reflect badly for turnout. Even the paramilitaries seemed to be bored of the whole thing, with Civil Assistance protesters in Whitehall barely able to muster up 45 minutes of rioting before sodding off home. The referendum that had been warned as a political tempest ended up being just boring old democracy, whilst it didn’t make good TV it was probably a good sign for the maturity of British political culture.

With less than a dozen deaths across the campaign (a minor miracle compared to the 2005 election campaign where over a hundred had been killed) the ballots were counted and the paramilitary warehouses were raided, a couple plots to invade a count here, a few bomb attacks there, one ballsy Red Brigade cell even hatched a plan to kidnap Milburn at the national count, all were caught by the security services. Even the military seemed to be behaving itself, no last minute “exercises” to capture Broadcasting House just to show they could. Tonight was Britain’s big moment, the day it decided on accession. Just as Prime Minister Johnson had said, no nasty surprises. Then the clock hit 10.

“Voting is taking place in a historic referendum on whether the UK should join the European Union. A record 40 million people are entitled to take part, according to provisional figures from the Electoral Commission. Polling stations will close at 22:00 BST with counting throughout the night. It is the first nationwide referendum in UK history and comes after a two-month battle for votes between the Yes and No campaigns. The BBC is limited in what it can report while polls are open but you can follow the results as they come in across the BBC after polls close tonight. The referendum ballot paper asks: "Do you approve of the United Kingdom's accession to the European Union?" Whichever side gets more than half of all votes cast is considered to have won. The weather forecast for polling day is mixed.” - BBC News Bulletin (2006)


Typical! You wait 40 years to go to the polls then two turn up at once...
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I'm not hugely sure what's going on, the bar where I usually type threadmarks seems to have disappeared, hopefully you'll all still see this update!
Exit Poll: 2006 Referendum

(Big Ben Chimes)



Andrew Marr - It’s ten o’clock sharp and we can reveal the results of our exit poll. It’s saying 64% of the vote in favour of “Yes” and 36% in favour of “No. Again that's a victory for Yes with nearly two thirds of the vote, an overwhelming super-majority. Unless we’re very very wrong it looks like we’re on our way to Brussels, start getting those Euros out from under the mattress. Mr Milburn must be very happy, don't you think Jeremy?

Jeremy Paxman - The voters have swung out strongly in favour of the EU but we have to ask ourselves how many voters are there? If you remember over this campaign many in the Yes camp said their “nightmare scenario” was a Yes victory on a small turnout, privately Alan Johnson has told aides it would be a “disaster” if turnout lower than 60% of the electorate. Of course our exit poll doesn’t account for turnout so we’ll just have to wait and see, but this could be a Pyrrhic victory for the Yes side.

AM - Yes of course few expected No to actually win this referendum, it’ll be the turnout and the victory margin that most pundits will be looking at.

JP - Whilst he was definitely fighting an uphill battle this may have clipped the wings of old Kilroy. Many in No thought he was their secret weapon but he hasn’t shifted the polls at all. There were rumors that if No over-performed expectations then Mr Kilroy-Silk and the hardliners could use this as an opportunity to challenge General Collins for the National Party Leadership, that dream looks fairly likely to be dead.

AM - Both major party leaders will be punching the air at this exit poll, they both put their full weight behind this referendum so a strong victory will really shore up their position. Mr Johnson will need all the political capital he can get, it’ll be a lot of work dotting the Is and crossing the Ts if we are to enter Europe by January 1st as he promised.

JP - Indeed many issues at play, will we see a stampede at the bank as people swap their pounds for euros? Will we see a mass brain drain to Ireland or the Netherlands as some have warned?

AM - Speaking of money we have the money man himself in the studio with us. The Chancellor Simon Hughes is here, he backed Yes. Mr Hughes, simple question, if everyone goes to the bank tomorrow morning to switch out their cash, do we have enough Euros to go round?
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Apologies, but Iam a bit confused. Did the general election happened in 2005 (from the wiki box) or did it happen in 2004 as it's indicated from your recent updates? Or are you referring to local or provincial elections that may have happened in 2004. Does the government have a four or five year term?

Aside from the questions, your thread is wonderful and is a bit reminiscent of my country's transition from military dictatorship to flawed democracy.
Apologies, but Iam a bit confused. Did the general election happened in 2005 (from the wiki box) or did it happen in 2004 as it's indicated from your recent updates? Or are you referring to local or provincial elections that may have happened in 2004. Does the government have a four or five year term?

Aside from the questions, your thread is wonderful and is a bit reminiscent of my country's transition from military dictatorship to flawed democracy.
Good spot! The election was in 2005 but my brain keeps deciding its 2004 I have no idea why, I managed to catch most in the proof read but some slip through. I really appreciate the kind feedback
Im wondering if Charles still marries Diana? Mountbatten had a soft spot for his nephew
Charles did still marry Diana, with Mountbatten having such a prominent political role the Palace was worried if Charles married Mountbatten's daughter it would upset the neutrality of the monarchy.
Chapter 18: Ode to Joy

“Enlargement is one of the most important opportunities for the European Union. Its historic task is to further the integration of the continent by peaceful means, extending a zone of stability and prosperity. In 1994 the European Council declared that ‘the post-democratic nations of Europe that so desire will become members’. In December 1998, at Seville the European Council launched the process that made enlargement possible. This process embraces six countries: Cyprus, Malta, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the United Kingdom. Accession negotiations are underway with a further five. The goal is to complete these five by the end of 2009 so they are ready to take part as members in the European Parliament’s elections of 2009.” - Enlargement of the European Union, European Commission Report by Günter Verheugen (2005)

With 63.7% of the electorate in favour on a 67.1% turnout, the EU Referendum gamble paid off, jubilant Yes supporters wave EU flags at rallies across the country, it was official, Britain was rejoining the world. Now the real work began, Britain had been working hard to align itself with the EU but there was still a long way to go and now she was working against the clock, the UK had six months to get its affairs in order before joining the club. Most pressing issue was the Euro, despite the euro not coming into effect for another six months, banks and exchange offices were flooded with people desperately trying to switch their currency. HSBC and Lloyds Banks both announced they were stopping all Euro exchanging to prevent a scarcity after violence erupted at a HSBC branch in Birmingham.


Banks were overwhelmed by swarms of panicked people

Euro concerns would be covered by a blitz of policy announcements. Chancellor Simon Hughes announced the pound would see a transition period of two years after accession where it would be accepted as legal tender by banks and the treasury. It was estimated that there were around £20 billion pound sterling in physical circulation around the world, the Treasury had a mountain to climb to claw it all back. To lead this major challenge Prime Minister Alan Johnson announced Margaret Beckett would be appointed as High Representative to the EU (later to become the first British EU Commissioner) .

“British Prime Minister Alan Johnson has confirmed Margaret Beckett as Britain's new European Commissioner designate. Mr Johnson telephoned EU President Margot Wallström earlier on Friday and received a "positive response". London is expected to press Brussels to give Beckett the job of Justice, Freedom and Security. Beckett was a key figure in a referendum in Mr Johnson's referendum on EU accession. This is a remarkable comeback for a politician who was imprisoned twice between 1992 and the Junta's fall in 2005. Long a supporter of British membership of the euro, Ms Beckett's appointment will please Europe but may bring a domestic backlash. The prime minister said the Minister for Europe had the right skills and contacts and was "the best person for the job".” - Beckett named Britain's EU commissioner-designate, Irish Times (2006)


'Fuck, I'm stunned,' said Beckett after receiving the call

There were also the concerns of Schengen with Britain joining the agreement in 2007 for land and sea crossings and 2008 for airports. This would make Britain’s impending brain drain even more dramatic, several leading academics and young graduates had already started making arrangements for better paying jobs in Ireland and the Netherlands, especially among Scottish and Welsh youngsters hoping to flee a region underdeveloped and wracked by political violence. On the Northern Irish Border Republican Police feared a mass exodus similar to the partition of India, as free passage between the North and South opened for the first time.

There was also the issue of the paramilitaries, whilst heightened police presence during the campaign had forced them underground sporadic attacks were returning, a few days after the result Civil Assistance launched a bomb attack in Ashford, trying to delay the construction of the Eurostar rail connection between France and the UK, in London unknown assailants conducted a drive-by shooting at the EU’s consultant in Westminster. Violent acts aside, a much more common occurrence was Civil Assistance marches through predominantly Leave voting provinces such as Lincolnshire. On the new video-sharing platform Youtube furious No voters broadcast videos of them burning EU notes to much mockery from the Yes side, despite the overwhelming victory Britain was still divided.


Riots broke out in some parts of the country, where Civil Assistance activists burnt EU flags and euros

Over on the No side, Robert Kilroy-Silk’s career was in tatters as the National whip confirmed he wouldn’t be getting his old Shadow Cabinet job back. With the hardliners cowed Tim Collins’ Leadership over National was secured for the time being. On the left-wing of the No campaign the Socialist Alternative was in uproar, many blamed their leader John McDonnell for failing to establish the left argument for No. Resentment towards McDonnell had been building in the Alternative for several months as the SDP continued to move to the right, many perceived McDonnell as preventing them from taking a strong enough line against the SDP. The RMT union, one of the Alternative’s main financial backers pledged to pull funding and start a new left-wing party. The Alternative was a loose confederation of different interests and with it starting to fracture McDonnell announced he would not lead the Alternative into the next general election. The Mad Preacher of Mereseyside had fought, and he had lost. Now the very survival of the British radical left was in question.

This wasn’t to mention the problems the EU faced, the latest rounds of accessions would be the biggest yet, Britain and Poland alone had a combined population of nearly a hundred million netting them 130 combined seats in the European Parliament, the accession of two large new democracies would be the biggest upset the Union had seen in its history, time would tell if the new MEPs would behave. The 14th of October was set as the date for the election of Britain's new MEPs, yet again Britain would be going to the polls, and as other countries had shown MEP elections were often the most dangerous elections of all.

Britain has voted to join the EU by a sweeping majority, delivering a greater than expected yes vote in a referendum. With the British membership of the euro in doubt, there were fears that the pessimism engulfing Britain would dampen pro-EU sentiment. But the referendum on joining the EU was supported by up to 64%, according to official projections based on around 67% of the vote. The solid yes vote was higher than what had been predicted in the opinion polls. The endorsement means that Britain will become an EU member country in January, symbolising its break with the Junta. Senior politicians in London described the referendum as historic. Never in the hundreds of years of the country's history has a referendum been held.” - Britain Votes to Join The European Union, New York Times (2006)


The Union Jack was hoisted outside the Commission Building in Brussels
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Wikibox: Margaret Beckett

Margaret Beckett is a British politician who has been European Commissioner-designate since 2006. As well as a Minister of State for Europe since 2005 . She was elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Derbyshire in 2005. Before entering politics Beckett was an academic and trade union organiser. She joined the underground Communist Party in 1973 before leaving in 1984. Between 1992 and 1994 and 1997 to 2005 she was imprisoned by the British Junta for subversive acts.

She was released under the Cardiff Accords and elected as an MP for Derbyshire in 2005. She was then appointed Minister for Europe by Alan Johnson, working under Tony Blair on Britain's accession to Europe. Beckett played a key role in the Yes Campaign for the 2006 British Accession Referendum.

Upon Britain's accession she was appointed High Representative to the EU and Commissioner-designate. She was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2007 New Year Honours for public and political service.
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