David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, is in danger of having his heart broken if Scotland votes to be independent. He said this, of course, in Scotland, and later went to attend the naming ceremony of what will be the UK’s next carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, also in Scotland, where the carrier was partially built.
Just to be sure that the message was absolutely clear that some Ministry of Defense money flows North, the Queen forewent the traditional bottle of champagne for a bottle of Scottish Whiskey to smash against the ship while listening to bagpipes. Reporters didn’t say if she also wore a kilt and ate haggis before christening the ship after an English Queen known for imprisoning and beheading Mary, Queen of Scots.
What a change since the times when no one broke away from the Empire without a major war. Or when the other side has Gandhi. Of all people, this leads Russia, who is no stranger to putting down revolts, to not take the UK very seriously. “Britain?” Russian diplomats say, “It’s just a small island no one pays attention to.” The BBC didn’t take kindly to this. They responded with an article explaining how Great Britain is really, in fact, a big island. And besides, the word great is right there, before Britain. That counts for something, right?
It is a bit hard, going from the world’s largest Empire, spreading English around the globe, and having one fourth of the world’s population as subjects, to playing second fiddle to the United States.
The UK’s GDP has slipped from being the foremost in the world to number 9, just behind Brazil (not to mention their former arch-enemies, the French). In terms of GDP per person, the average Briton now makes about $11,000 less per year than the average American, a trend that used to go in the opposite direction until just a few years ago.
So, what would you like to do, UK? How about cozying up to the rest of the EU. Eh, no? Full of Euroskeptics? You really did just give a plurality of the vote to freaking UKIP? Okay. No go there. Reestablishing the Empire is probably not a good idea. The Western world can hardly stabilize individual countries like Iraq or Afghanistan much less take over and hold large parts of India. Well, what about accepting your place in the world and just trying to be a great country without being a great power? I mean, the average Briton is still much better off than the vast majority of the world.
No? Okay, I have another solution. You’re not gonna like it, but hear me out.
You’re really not gonna like it.
Lately it may have struck some Britons that they misplaced a few soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly a decade. They may have even noticed that Iraq was entirely America’s idea and we didn’t even bother giving the world any sort of reason (at least, not any sort of reason that stood up to more than two minutes thought). Or, the first Gulf War. Or all that time in Kosovo. Americans are grateful for your support of course, but I’m not sure what we were doing when Argentina decided it owned the Falklands.
If the Special Relationship means giving over important foreign policy decisions to the US, you may as well have a say in it.
And of course, joining the US is the only way to have a vote in Congress.
What could be the possible downsides?
*You’d have to adopt the ugliest currency in the world, the US Dollar. The US dollar is so boring it doesn’t even have naked ladies riding sharks.
*You’d have to replace uninspired, bland leadership that forgets every promise immediately after the election with uninspired, bland leadership that forgets every promise immediately after the election with an American accent.
*A certain rich, unelected, German-descended family, while not having to give up any practical powers of influencing government, is going to have to come up with new titles to put before their names.
*It will put the final nail in the coffin of the Empire. Britain tried so hard to rule the world that it has at one time or another invaded 90% of all the countries on Earth. After joining the US, this effort will no longer be orchestrated from London. Instead that process will be organized from Washington.
*While you’d have representation in the democratic process, this would mean an end to complete self-determination. The British would also lose a certain something that comes with being free and independent. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, ask the Scots.
*It’s a little embarrassing to be absorbed by your former colonies–although you would be able to play on a less embarrassing World Cup team to make up for this.
*If you join, we’ll update the flag, but still arrange the stars as boringly as possible,
but at least we’d freaking represent Wales.
Wow, those are some cons. Let’s get to the pros.
First of all, there’s this:
That right there is a reallocation of the U.S. Electoral College if Britain were to join the Union. (The process of redistribution can be found here). Because each state is guaranteed to have two senators it would make the most sense to join as four separate states if you want to maximize representation in Washington. 81 votes would suddenly be British.
The US House of Representatives is set by law to 435 voting members but the Senate can expand, and would, to 108. There are additionally 3 votes given to the District of Columbia, even though the government has found them not worthy of having a voice in the Legislature. This brings the new total up to 546. This website would have to change its name to 274 to Win.
Because of the vast size of the UK voting block, and how close recent US elections have been, US Presidents will be pretty much whoever the UK votes for. Having a 15% share in the Electoral College could have swung every election for the past 26 years. If you’re liberally minded, this means no George W. Bush. For conservatives (although Conservative and conservative don’t necessarily mean the same thing) that means losses for Clinton and Obama.
There are some other advantages:
*So long as states have a republican form of government the Constitution is cool with it. So the Brits can keep parliamentary democracy to decide state affairs.
*English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish parliaments would have the best of both worlds as part of the bigger government and retaining the ability to make decisions on local issues. The US Constitution includes what we called Reserved Powers just for the states. The Federal government has never, ever figured out a way around this. Not even once.
*The US and the UK have a long history of cooperation. Starting near the beginning of the 20th century they’ve cooperated in peace and war. Before then, not so much, what with plenty of border disputes in Alaska, Maine and New Brunswick, and the Oregon Territory. And how the US supported Irish Independence. And the Empire didn’t exactly help the Confederates, but they didn’t hurt them either. During the war American sailors violated British neutrality to capture some Confederates and the UK considered an invasion of the Union. Oh, and two major wars we actually did fight. But all that stuff from before the two countries got along doesn’t count.
*These are uncertain times. Sure, the UK has a nuclear deterrent, is on some islands that haven’t been successfully invaded since 1066. But wouldn’t they feel more secure being protected by the US Military? You know, besides already being part of NATO. We know you’re jealous of our aircraft carriers.
*Plenty of Brits live in the States and plenty of Yanks have crossed the Pond to live in Britain. We’re also huge trading partners and are deeply interconnected. It’s obvious we’re better together.
Sounds like a pretty good deal. Just remember that if the UK became the next four states, their taxes wouldn’t go to subsidizing a pillar of Western culture and democracy like Greece. Nope, that money is going straight to Arkansas.