Does Northern England really want to join Scotland?
A petition that garnered thousands of signatures requests that the centuries-old border between England and Scotland be redrawn, which would result in major English cities such as Liverpool and Manchester being put under Scottish governance. How realistic are the chances of this happening?
Northern England is sick and tired of having its interests subverted under those of the "London-centric South."
Or at least that is what more than 21,000 signees of a Change.org petition are claiming. The Guardian reported, as members of Parliament work towards handing more administrative responsibilities to local governments outside of London, some citizens of Northern England think that the region should become part of Scotland, saying they "feel far greater affinity with their Scottish counterparts such as Glasgow and Edinburgh than with the ideologies of the London-centric south.”
The Guardian reports:
The petition suggests the map of the UK be redrawn, extending Scotland’s southern borders along a line that runs between the mouth of the Humber and the Dee, which flows east from Wales via Chester and discharges to the sea between Wales and the Wirral peninsula in England.
The border between England and Scotland was formalized in the 12th century, and is one of the oldest extant borders in the world.
The petition, started last year before a Scottish succession vote failed, also includes a demand that Scotland and "New Scotland" succeed from the United Kingdom. In recent days there has been a spike in signatures in anticipation for a Thursday visit in Manchester by chancellor George Osborne. Mr. Osborne is the only member of parliament (MP) in the new Conservative cabinet with a Northern English constituency, according to the Guardian.
Osborne, MP for Tatton in Cheshire, is expected to launch a plan for decentralizing London's authority to administer English cities, according to the Birmingham Mail. The plan allows for any English city that elects a mayor to be given more governing powers over their own affairs, such as controlling funds for housing and public transport. It is part of Osborne's "Northern Powerhouse" plan, according to the BBC.
A photo essay by artist Jo Metson Scott titled "Borderland" profiled English citizens living in the northern-most part of the country in the run up to the rejected Scottish independence vote. She and her partner Sarah Saey – who wrote accompanying essays – found that many of the English living there viewed themselves as more Scottish than English.
"Berwick’s the nearest English place, but Kelso is nearer and that’s Scotland. The doctor, dentist, hairdresser, local co-op, local post office; everything is in Scotland so you feel more Scottish because you spend more time in Scotland doing all your bits and bobs," a woman named Lynn of Northumberland, England, told Ms. Scott and Ms. Saey. "We also get Scottish telly and have a Scottish phone number and yet we’re still classed as English."
So is New Scotland actually on the horizon?
Despite a Manchester City poll which found that 72 percent of residents wanted to join Scotland, the original intention of the petition was to ride the wave of succession, the Manchester Evening News reported.
Even as the Scottish National Party rocketed to an impressive victory, taking 56 of Scotland's 59 seats in the election on May 7, the chances of moving the border seem unlikely. Though the 2014 independence vote was described by many at the time as a "once-in-a-generation" occurrence, the SNP may be planning to propose another vote as soon as 2016, according to the Telegraph.