In a few short months I will reach something of a milestone. It’s a slightly notional milestone, some would say. It’s not so much that I will turn 46 years of age. It’s more to do with identity and how I see myself. If you were to ask me where I’m from, my answer might depend on where you’re from. To a Mexican, I’m British. To a Scot, I’m English. To an Englisher, I am a Londoner. To a Londoner? Perhaps I’m a bruv. I’m not sure. It’s been a while since I tuned into Eastenders. But anyway, given that I left the capital in favour of the south coast at age 23, in a few short months I will reach the point where I’m just half a Londoner, and then a day later I will become less than half a Londoner, and more than half something-else. If we are to be precise, I will be 50% Londoner, 37% Dorseter and 13% Mexican.
When I moved to Dorset in the autumn of 1995, I would go down to the beach often. It had huge novelty factor to a (until recently) city dweller. And on the horizon loomed the Isle of Wight. For 17 years I have regularly looked out across the English Channel at the cliffs of the Isle of Wight and made plans to visit. Last weekend, I finally got around to it. It’s a very pleasant 40 minute ferry ride from Lymington across to Yarmouth, which gave me time to ponder what the Isle of Wight might have to offer the world. And that’s when it struck me. Now hear me out…
It’s a commonly held principle that before introducing something particularly radical, be it software or policy, one trials the process first to see how well it works. Or how well it doesn’t work, as the case. It’s just good practice. And what better place to trial Brexit than the Isle of Wight? The small island could declare independence, Wixit, becoming the Republic of Wight. They’d install a few pompous elderly chaps and chappettes in various leadership roles and push them infront of microphones to pronounce the brave new vision of the RoW. Wixit Means Wixit! In the British Isles, not in Great Britain. Taking control of the borders. Global Wight.
The Republic of Wight will revert to non existant WTO tariffs with the rest of the UK, shunning existing trade deals with the former motherland. And why not? The UK is a stagnant economy. It’s a whole brave world out there. There are literally millions of peasants in Peru, the Gambia and Myanmar who would love the opportunity to buy paintings of old ships, fifty year old cracked mantlepiece clocks and Union Flag bunting. They could spend a few million pounds advertising in Egypt and Panama to encourage a new breed of tourist to replace the tight fisted lot from Dorset and Hampshire. And it will be surely just a matter of time before container ships full of Cream Teas leave port on their way to Australia.
Nigel Farage will be invited to make speeches to audiences packed out with literally tens of nearly-dead rabble rousing pensioners. The Republic of Wight is open to the world, diverse and ready for the challenge. With grand posters showing a range of smiling elderly caucasions headlined ‘Wight Might!’ And then the little island will go bust. Farage will disappear.Excuses will be made.
Economic ruin will see numerous care home residents perish from lack of care. Enough of them to ensure the youth vote wins the second referendum. Wight will go back to being part of Britain, and start with ‘Isle of’. And the whole experience will be enough to convince 10 Downing Street that holding a referendum on full blown Brexit would be a thoroughly foolish thing to do. Perhaps.
This is all wishful thinking. Brexit will have no trial run. And the Isle of Wight makes for a jolly nice day trip. I learned that there was once a railway line from Yarmouth, long since closed down. The station has been converted into a restaurant, Off the Rails, which serves good food at extortionate prices. There are nice river walks. And lots of swans, which will beg for food. If begging doesn’t yield results, then they will quickly resort to mugging. You’ve been warned.