Cornwall celebrates but what of other English counties' claims to independence?

Tony Gosling tony at
Fri Apr 25 13:59:28 BST 2014

Cornwall is celebrating after being granted 
minority status - but what of other English counties' claims to independence?
 From Berkshire to Yorkshire, our writers go back to their roots...
   Thursday 24 April 2014

By Gillian Orr

Berkshire, or the Royal County of Berkshire as we 
all go around calling it, is one of the oldest in 
the country. Not only was it the scene of many 
historic battles in the Civil War but, due to 
Eton College being located here, it means just 
about every Prime Minister and royal of note has 
stolen their first kisses and taken their 
earliest sips of cider in our distinguished 
county. But if people think Berkshire is just a 
place for snobs and toffs, don’t forget we are 
also responsible for glorious Slough, the setting 
for The Office. And therein lies Berkshire’s 
beauty. What other county can boast having such 
varying landmarks as Wernham Hogg Paper Company 
and Windsor Castle nestled within its quarters?

By Lisa Markwell
Bucks should not be seen as the decorative buckle 
on the commuter belt, oh no. It may be home to 
the picturesque Chiltern Hills and have the odd 
bend of the Thames within its boundaries, but 
within it is a threatened species. It deserves 
minority status to protect the very important and 
at-risk residents of a proper home county: the 
gin’n’Jag set. The numbers of these creatures, 
who rise before dawn and hit the M40 in their 
company cars, to toil at management consulting 
all day before coming home for a stiff drink and 
a glance at the Telegraph crossword, are 
dwindling. But it is they who keep 
Buckinghamshire’s wine bars in business, the golf 
clubs ticking over, and the personal trainers 
(who Mrs G’n’J utilises between school drop off 
and teeth-whitening sessions) busy. We want them 
to keep going for ever,  like Bucks’ other 
attractions – Bekonscot, the model village that 
has barely changed since it opened in 1929 – and 
the grammar schools that still proliferate. We 
can’t expect Pinewood Studios to be our only 
calling card (although, in fairness, it is more 
glamorous than the other residents the county 
accommodates – Noel Gallagher and Jamiroquai 
among others). And apologies if we are now 
sounding needy, but our minority status is only 
cemented by being the county that nearly, but not 
quite, includes such luminary addresses as 
Silverstone, Bletchley, Windsor
 I could go on. 
Even Slough (of “Come Friendly Bombs” fame) is just over the border.

By Chloe Hamilton
When you think about it, Cambridgeshire already 
has minority status. We have our own sport 
(apparently they punt in Oxford, too, but at the 
wrong end of the boat), our own language (A 
keeping room? Anyone? Yep, that’s right, it’s a 
fancy word for living room) and even our very 
own, very glamorous Duke and Duchess. To hell 
with leeks, soda bread, haggis and pasties, our 
national food is the delectable Fitzbillies 
Chelsea bun or, for the very brave, boiled 
sausages in milk. We also make most of our money 
selling cheap tat to tourists, like any good 
principality should. If minority status was 
granted, our head of state, some library 
eccentric, would ride around town on his bike 
admonishing students for not wearing their gowns, 
and enforce incongruous laws such as holding May 
Balls in June rather than May. In fact, I think 
the government should go right ahead and make 
Cambridgeshire the country it quite clearly is. 
Anything to get one up on The Other Place.

By Alistair Dawber
There isn’t much support in Chester, Warrington, 
Knutsford and Crewe for the Peoples’ Popular 
Front for the Liberation of Cheshire (PPFLC), but 
perhaps there should be. Much like Scotland 
argues in the context of its oil, there’s so much 
money swimming around (footballers in the north 
of the county, farmers in the south) that 
Cheshire must surely be better off keeping its 
cash rather than transferring it elsewhere. It 
has its own mining industry (salt – or at least 
it used to), and huge revenues could be generated 
by taxing all the trains that come up the West 
Coast Mainline and to on to various places from 
Crewe station. Don’t be surprised if support for 
the PPFLC soars in the years to come.

By Chris Blackhurst
If any county is deserving of separate status it 
is Cumbria.  Britain’s loveliest and prettiest, 
home of Beatrix Potter, John Ruskin and William 
Wordsworth, Cumbria is closer to heaven than it 
is to London. With the fells, lakes, and tarns of 
the Lake District at its core, Cumbria has no 
issue with identity.  Bounded by the sea on one 
side and the majestic Eden Valley on the other it 
has its own dialect, cuisine, ales, customs, 
sports and wildlife. All it is lacking is 
independent governance. Where would you rather 
be, in the smog shuffling along in the crowds 
at  Chelsea Flower show, or breathing in the 
clean, pure air at the Grasmere Sports, watching 
the fell running, Cumberland Wrestling and 
hound-trailing?  Likewise, would you prefer the 
view from Westminster Bridge or Tarn Hows? The latter, every time.

By Will Gore
Picture this
 Gaining independence will be only 
the first battle for Derbyshire; then will come 
the internal debate about the future of Derby 
itself. City-dwellers there may resent the 
county’s name change to Peakland and the 
retention of government in tourist-friendly 
Matlock. But when civil order reasserts itself, 
Peakland will become a powerhouse – its 
industrial heartland in the south; glorious hills 
and productive pasture to the north. Oatcakes and 
Bakewell tart will feed hungry mouths at the end 
of hard-working days; wells will be dressed in 
thanks for the county’s liberation.  And should 
governments of little Lancashire or yapping 
Yorkshire, jealous of Peakland’s wonders, send 
their armies they will be met by sturdy uplanders 
atop the Dark Peak, their guns loaded with local 
lead.  This is our dream: get out of the trough; climb the peak.

By Sophie Robehmed
Ah, Devon, you beautiful beast. Your rolling 
green hills, magnificent moors and stunning, 
jagged coastline attracts countless visitors, 
migrating families and retirees, far and wide. 
You gave birth to literary greats, such as Samuel 
Taylor Coleridge (Ottery St. Mary), a leader of 
the British Romantic movement whose most famous 
poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, is 
studied, again and again, by literature students 
worldwide, Charles Kingsley (Exeter), whose 
novel, Westward Ho!, led to the north Devon town 
with the same name – the only place name in the 
British Isles that contains an exclamation mark! 
– and Agatha Christie (Torquay), the bestselling 
author of all time. Your luscious landscape also 
inspired the likes of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 
Ted Hughes, Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Jane 
Austen and Arthur Conan Doyle (that’s right, you 
could forget The Hound of the Baskervilles and 
Sherlock-cum-Benedict Cumberbatch mania without 
Dartmoor). You even determined a globally 
recognised geological era – the Devonian period. 
Oh, and by the way, you (probably) also 
introduced the world to a cream tea and the 
hallowed pasty (according to discovered historic 
documents), maybe even clotted cream and saffron 
cake. So stick that in your Saint Piran’s special 
edition pipe and smoke it, Cornwall.

By Mark Leftly
Finally, we Bournemouthians would have our 
revenge. Bournemouth was the public’s choice to 
be awarded city status in a 2012 competition to 
mark the Queen’s Diamond jubilee. Instead, the 
trio promoted to the top rank of urban 
settlements were Chelmsford (really?), Perth 
(Australia?) and St Asaph (not even a real 
place). That’s quite an insult for a town that 
sells 2,000 ice creams a day and discovers about 
as many Page 3 girls (including, I should remind 
Archie Bland, Hampshire’s Ms Pinder) on seven 
miles of golden beaches. As economically dominant 
of Dorset as London is of the UK, secession would 
see Bournemouth rightfully take its place as the 
world’s most chain-bar strewn capital city.

By Stephen Brenkley
Land of the prince bishops, it was doing home 
rule long before the others thought of it. The 
only county of England to proclaim itself as such 
in its name, its coalfields fuelled the 
industrial revolution. It has one of the world’s 
great universities in the county town, one of its 
great museums in the singular Bowes Museum at 
Barnard Castle, one of the forgotten treasures of 
the British countryside in Teesdale, a unitary 
authority which tries still to believe in 
supplying public services, and it also provided 
last summer’s cricket county champions, the true 
yardstick of any place worthy of the name county.

By Simon Read
Essex is not just another county in England. It’s 
the oldest county still in existence, dating its 
roots back to at least the 6th century, and it 
contains Britain’s oldest recorded town in 
Colchester, which pre-dated the Roman invasion. 
Yet it’s also thoroughly modern, being at the 
heart of the entertainment revolution that still 
shapes our age today. It boasts the world’s 
longest pleasure pier at Southend – it’s further 
than a mile! It was also the birthplace of pirate 
radio – Caroline’s earliest broadcasts in 1964 
came from a boat moored off the Essex coast. 
Minority status? The rest of the country is in a 
minority compared to Essex’s historical and contemporary pre-eminence.

By Archie Bland
Fine, other counties have given the world 
cultural figures that mean more than Lucy Pinder 
or Craig David or Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. (Even 
our greatest modern icon, Matthew Le Tissier, 
actually comes from the Channel Islands.) Fine, 
we haven’t got much in the way of local cuisine. 
But you can keep yer Beatles and yer pasties: 
Hampshire has kings. When Wessex was a nation, 
and the Danes were knocking on the door, all of 
south-west England looked to Winchester for 
protection. You might not know much about King 
Alfred beyond his cake-burning, but trust me, he 
knocks the Windsors into a cocked hat. Royal 
heritage, a top-class football team, and it’s 
usually quite sunny: I’m suddenly wondering why 
we didn’t put up border controls decades ago.

By David Connett
England at its quietest was how novelist E M 
Forster described Hertfordshire. The unassuming 
characteristics of a county experienced by most 
of us only through the windows of the car or 
train passing swiftly through on their way to 
London or elsewhere should not be overlooked when 
the question of independence is raised. More 
fantastical schemes have been dreamed up at 
Leavesden’s World of Harry Potter. Herts resident 
Rupert Grint as head of state, anyone? We could 
even change the currency to Galleons. Who would 
argue with fellow resident Vinnie Jones in charge 
of security? Others may bridle at old boy George 
Michael as Culture minister but a toll on every 
car and train passing through would soon see us in clover.

By Simon O'Hagan
I always thought my home county WAS a nation. 
Back in the 11th century its good citizens saw 
off William the Conqueror as he made his way 
north from Hastings, earning Kent its motto of 
“Invicta” (unconquered). So we’ve been separate 
from the rest of England for nearly 1,000 years, 
which is about how long it feels like Gillingham 
Football Club have been trying to get into the 
Premier League. No matter. We punch above our 
weight in other ways: apples, hops, oil 
refineries, white cliffs, high-speed rail links, 
and archbishops of Canterbury. And we’d have Mick Jagger’s head on our stamps.

By Chris Maume
The seat of the Industrial Revolution, the county 
that made Britain great. And we still have plenty 
of industry to keep us going today, plus great 
football teams and great music – and to those who 
protest that Liverpool and Manchester don’t 
count, I contend that Lancashire’s boundaries 
used to encompass both those cities, and as a new 
nation we would seek to correct the “historical 
mistake”, as Mr Putin would say, of allowing them 
to be stolen from us in the Metropolitan Reshuffle Scandal of 1971.

By Sean O'Grady
Can we conceive of a territory with the emblem of 
a pork pie rampant as its symbol of nationhood? 
Yes, indeed, the home of the Melton Mowbray 
delicacy (already a protected brand under 
European law) has much to commend itself. The 
county, and the great enterprising multicultural 
melting pot that is Leicester at its warm heart, 
leads the nation in so many ways. Top sports 
teams in every field: rugger, cricket and now a 
return to premiership football; fox hunting, 
(nowadays mercifully without the accompanying 
torture of an innocent wild animal); Britain’s 
favourite potato crisp (Walkers); and the finest 
Indian restaurants and chippies you could wish 
for. Two fine universities, picturesque ancient 
villages in gently undulating countryside with 
wonderful names (Great Dalby, Little Dalby, 
Frisby-on-the-Wreake, Tur Langton, Barton in the 
Beans), a history of settlement back to pre-Roman 
times, the National Space Centre, Everards ales, 
Pukka Pies, the biggest John Lewis in the world, 
Richard III, magnificent architectural heritage 
and our very own miniature statue of liberty 
completes the compelling national case. Prime 
Minister Gary Lineker awaits the call.

By Dan Gledhill
When asked, “where do you come from?”, there are 
few better conversation killers than 
“Lincolnshire”. Well, if that’s your attitude
Combining a rugged north and a flat-as-a-pancake 
south, the land of the “Yeller Belly” boasts some 
of the finest beaches in Britain. It is the fair 
county that spawned Isaac Newton, Margaret 
Thatcher and Abi Titmuss. Lincoln Minster was 
once the tallest man-made structure in the world. 
There’s a straight road that goes on for seven 
miles. How different do we have to be before our minority status is recognised?

By John Clarke
Those lucky enough to come from Norfolk always 
had one golden rule. “We do different.” Perhaps 
it’s the fact that the county’s stuck out in the 
North Sea, battered by winds straight from 
Siberia in winter but blessed by miles of golden 
beaches that make this county not only different 
but seemingly isolated from the rest of the UK. 
Going to Norfolk is a conscious decision. It’s 
not on the way to anywhere else and isn’t 
somewhere you can just pass through. Driving up 
the notoriously over-used but under-developed A11 
brings you to proud city of Norwich, which boasts 
a Norman Cathedral, a Norman Castle and premier 
league football team (although that status is 
currently under threat). Detractors may point to 
Alan Partridge, but he has little to do with the 
true Norfolk, as Dick Van Dyke does with 
Cockneys. Instead, think of Nelson, a 
Norfolk-bred national hero, or Thomas Paine, the 
revolutionary who helped America towards 
independence – and can inspire Norfolk’s own.

By Joseph Charlton
Northumberland has always been an exceptional 
county. We boasted a Kingdom from 654 to 954AD, 
our forebears include Sting, Bryan Ferry and the 
Venerable Bede, and we’re no stranger to “status” 
awards here, either – having last year been 
granted “dark sky status” for the county’s 
exceptionally dark nights and starry skies. That 
bright firmament illuminates a world of wonder 
and spectacle underneath:  rolling, heather-clad 
hills, two football clubs both alike in hatred 
for one another, and a set of the fairer sex 
given to a perfunctory dress-code at best, 
whatever the season. Minority status is clearly 
the next logical step for a county of such 
singular disposition. Besides, if Parliament 
doesn’t recognise our rights soon, they’ll have 
to compete with an independent Scotland for our 
affections, and who says Alex Salmond couldn’t 
turn out to be the annexing type? Joseph Charlton

By Richard Askwith
Northamptonshire has no need of independence. 
Splayed across the centre of both England and 
(pretty much) the UK, we’re used to rubbing along 
happily with people from all parts. Then again, 
if you all want to secede from us, we’ll manage 
fine on our own. We’re relatively prosperous, 
uncrowded, rural but not chocolate-boxy, 
unpretentious, well-connected (by road, rail and 
canal), proficient in several sports, with small, 
slightly sleepy towns and a cultural heritage 
that spans the social strata, from the super-posh 
Spencers to John Clare, poet of the peasantry. I 
suppose it might be tempting, in an 
every-county-for-itself free-for-all, to invade 
Lincolnshire; but I suspect we’d think better of 
it. Access to the sea isn’t all it’s cracked up 
to be in an age of rising sea-levels. And,  with 
everything we need in our own county, why go looking for trouble?

By Alex Lawson
Nottinghamshire is the county upon which 
Britain’s cultural pillars have been built – pubs 
and football. Nottingham’s natural parliament is 
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, a public house dating 
back to 1189and widely recognised as Britain’s 
oldest watering hole. On the pitch, Notts County, 
formed in 1862, proudly boast their status as the 
world’s oldest professional league club while 
neighbours across the river Nottingham Forest 
have two European Cups to their name. 
Nottinghamshire also has a natural leader to 
adorn its fledgling flag. Robin Hood, the 
philanthropic founder of a conscientious economy, 
is a global hero inspiring men to wear green 
tights, tourists to brave Sherwood Forest and 
Bryan Adams to dominate the charts.

By Sean O'Grady
Small can be beautiful and here we have a 
miniature nation state that can trace an almost 
continuous heritage of administrative 
independence since 1159, (barring a Crimea-style 
annexation by Leicestershire between 1974 and 
1994), making it far older than many upstarts 
such as San Marino or Monaco – these latter 
demonstrating how things could work out for our 
own Lilliput. Oakham and Uppingham pass for 
metropolises, both charming market towns. 
Economic viability derives from its fine 
farmland, nice pubs and of course Rutland Water, 
an extremely valuable man-made resource. Eric 
Idle would be the patron saint of the new state, 
having pioneered the idea of nationhood through 
the invention of Rutland Weekend Television in 
the 1970s, compete with the pop group the 
Ruttles, who stand easy comparison with their 
more successful Liverpudlian rivals. First prime 
minister could easily be diminutive government 
minister and local MP, Alan Duncan, truly a small 
fish in a small pond. As the county motto says, “much in little”.

By Alex Johnson
Bigger, better, older, cleverer, Shropshire is 
the county that doesn’t shout loudest but quietly 
paves the way for the rest to follow. World’s 
first skyscraper? That’ll be Ditherington flax 
mill near Shrewsbury. Birthplace of the modern 
Olympics? Welcome to Much Wenlock. Home to the 
first British parliament? Not London, but Acton 
Burnell. Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution? 
Lovely Ironbridge. Looking for proper nobility? 
The real King Arthur didn’t come from down south, 
but ruled a huge kingdom from his base in 
Wroxeter. Not only that, but the people are nice too.

By Chris Hewett
The Somerset Separationists hold regular meetings 
beneath a soggy hayrick on the outskirts of 
Nempnett Thrubwell, fortified by hunks of finest 
mature Cheddar, washed down by pints of foaming 
Butcombe. Here, we recite from the gospel of 
Fawlty Towers (John Cleese was born in 
Weston-super-Mare) while re-enacting the glorious 
battles of the English Civil War, during which 
the county distinguished itself with a 
right-thinking commitment to the Roundhead cause 
(unlike the forelock-tugging Cornish, it is only 
fair and reasonable to point out). John Pym, 
defender of parliament, co-author of the Grand 
Remonstrance, moving spirit behind the Solemn 
League and Covenant and leader of the early 
attacks on Charles I, was a local man. Our claim 
to nationhood rests on the following indisputable 
facts: we brew better than London, we party 
better than London, especially in Glastonbury; we 
play proper football – that is to say, rugby 
union – and we build grander dwellings, 
particularly in Bath. Oh yes, one other thing: 
the first king of all England was crowned on the 
site of Bath Abbey. Not that we like kings very much.

By Matthew Champion
The county that gave the world cricket and 
provided the backdrop for Kazakhstan’s greatest 
cycling triumph is no longer the rustic backwater 
our London cousins may like to think. So our 
council seat may not even be in Surrey, and sites 
of historical interest such as Hampton Court and 
the Coronation Stone might technically be in 
London. Granted, our literary history is 
chequered; Ford Prefect actually turned out to be 
a Betelgeusian and not from Guildford – our 
largest and in fact only town – and H G Wells was 
so inspired by the north Surrey countryside he 
dedicated an entire book in the shape of The War 
Of  The Worlds to its obliteration. Guildford 
itself is in jeopardy of being subsumed into the 
menacing-sounding Greater London Built-Up Area, 
with the expansion of the boroughs-upon-Thames of 
Richmond and Kingston an ever-present threat. 
This is what the Saxon-stronghold of Surrey 
represents, nothing less than the UK’s bulwark 
against the London behemoth. The only way to 
correct the north-south divide is to prevent the 
capital’s southward creep. Make Surrey the 
figurehead of the Home Counties Splinter Republic 
and watch the country’s London-centric economy rebalance.

By John Lichfield
Staffordshire has more claims to minority, 
separate status than almost any county. Are we 
the Midlands or the North? Neither, we are 
Staffordshire, the cultural watershed of England. 
We have not just one incomprehensible form of 
speech but two, mutually incomprehensible lingoes 
: North Staffs and Black Country. We produced the 
finest ever English footballer: Stanley Matthews. 
We are linked to Cornwall  through china. That 
is, of course, pottery china, not the People’s 
Republic. Where would all that Cornish clay go if 
it didn’t go to the Potteries to be made into dinner plates and toilets?

By Rachael Allum
The great nation of Suffolk? Certainly has a ring 
to it, but given the lack of motorways in the 
county, our complete disregard of the English 
language and the population’s general penchant 
for inbreeding, it would seem we’re already 
functioning as an independent state. With 
illustrious national foodstuffs such as Branston 
Pickle, Bird’s custard and the fine ales produced 
by Greene King in such high demand globally, our 
economy is booming. And who needs footballing 
success when you have a town full of diddy people 
on horseback achieving sporting brilliance? Yes 
the houses are painted pink and there’s a general 
odour of sugar beet that hangs in the air, but 
unless you own a tractor you can’t leave anyway.

By Simon Calder
When the “Europe of 100 flags” finally arrives, 
dissolving national frontiers in favour of 
natural partitions, the six martlets of Sussex 
will flutter proudly on the county standard. 
Sussex has always been a land apart. It is 
segregated from London’s suburban sprawl by the 
North Downs, yet – thanks to 75 miles of splendid 
shoreline – open to foreign cultures (as William 
the Conqueror found to his advantage). To the 
east, the boundary with Kent is blurred by the 
mysterious wilderness of Romney Marsh, while the 
western edge is punctuated by the city of 
Chichester and the glories of Goodwood. Global 
connectivity is ensured by the world’s busiest 
single-runway airport, at Gatwick. However, since 
the Sussex resorts of Eastbourne and Bognor are 
habitually the sunniest places in Britain, and 
exotic Brighton (pictured above) is the most 
Continental city in the UK, there seems little 
reason to stray beyond the ancient kingdom of the South Saxons.

By Felicity Morse
Warwickshire gave birth to the nation’s Greatest 
Briton: Shakespeare. Perhaps if we’d had our own 
independence we wouldn’t have had our brilliant 
bard poached by the smoky stages of the capital 
and could have kept our shire’s bucolic identity. 
It’s not just Stratford that makes Warwickshire 
wonderful though. Coventry weathered the great 
war with the type of morale exclusive to 
Midlander. And then there’s Lady Godiva, the city 
noblewoman who rode through the streets naked to 
stop the oppressive taxation of the people. Would Boris do the same today?

By Richard Hall
As far as its people are concerned, Wiltshire is 
already a country. We have a healthy distrust of 
outsiders, our own flag (a bustard against a 
green and white striped background) and a dialect 
that is incomprehensible to anyone outside of our 
borders. We have a national monument in 
Stonehenge (pictured above), a national religion 
in cider and a national football team in Swindon 
Town. Ah, come to think of it, perhaps we are better together. Richard Hall

By Paul Bignell
Where to begin with Yorkshire’s claim to 
nationhood? Us Yorkshire folk have known it’s the 
best county for years, but had it confirmed to us 
only last October when Lonely Planet declared it 
as the Best Place in Europe and the Third Best 
Region in the world. Yes, I accept all the 
clichés – the great fish and chips in Whitby; the 
rugged beauty of the north York moors; the gravy 
sandwiches no one ever eats; the desolate Wolds 
of Hockney’s paintings. But let’s look to the 
future: cities such as Leeds and Sheffield which 
have been reinventing themselves quietly over the 
past decade. Bradford has become the world’s 
first Unesco City of Film and there’s a new 
state-of-the-art gallery in Wakefield. Add the 
cosy, plentiful pubs in York, the tea rooms of 
Harrogate the quirkiness of Hebden Bridge. Oh and 
there’s something about a cycling event this year.

By Katy Guest
With the best city (Liverpool), the most 
glamorous beach (Formby), the finest views of 
Wales, the two most mighty cathedrals and 
possibly, just possibly the greatest football 
team in England once again, Merseyside already 
has everything it needs to stand alone as a 
nation - even though apparently it’s not even a 
county. It even has the best jokes. “Why did the 
Scouse chicken cross the road softly? Because he 
couldn’t walk hardly.” Should it need to, 
Merseyside could revive the Albert Dock for 
imports and exports, and bring in tourists 
straight off the boat from New York to marvel at 
Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields
 and Bidston Hill. 
(Lancashire can keep the 4,000 holes.) Merseyside 
even has its own national anthem, inspired by the 
stalls of ye olde Birkenhead market: “We three 
kings of Hamilton Square/ Selling knickers 2p a 
pair/ They’re fantastic, no elastic/ That’s why our bums are bare.”

By Rob Hastings
We’ve heard plenty of reasons for London 
declaring self-rule: its huge population, its 
self-supporting economy, and its strong cultural 
identity. But for us Londoners living north of 
the Thames, making the capital independent just 
isn’t good enough. Travel south of the river, and 
we might as well be in a different land - where 
you have to walk miles for the Tube, and life 
seems strangely cut off from the hustle and 
bustle of the metropolis. So let’s wave goodbye 
to south London and draw a national boundary 
along the River Thames instead - reinstating the 
ancient county of Middlesex and making it an 
independent country. These days, Middlesex exists 
purely as a cricket team and a postal district 
for the likes of my family living out in Enfield. 
But historically, its borders included the seat 
of government in Westminster, the economic 
powerhouse of the City, and almost all the most 
famous sights of the capital. The old Middlesex 
Guildhall is now home to the Supreme Court – the 
highest judicial body in the land. So while some 
people might dismiss Middlesex as the county that 
doesn’t really exist, I’d argue that it has a 
better chance of surviving as an independent 
nation than any other shire in Britain. And if 
you won’t accept it as a county, that would 
effectively leave me stateless. Please don’t 
force me to take it to the European Court of Human Rights.

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