It is the end of the year again, and the start of a New Year. The Collyer Crystal Ball has been dusted off once more, and it glows this year with a strange blue light. A circle of gold stars seems to circulate in its misty depths, as the predictions for 2014 take shape…
Visa restrictions are lifted on migration from Bulgaria and Romania to Britain. The CBI complain that this may not be sufficient to deliver the cheap labour that employers need. British Prime Minister David Cameron says that he understands their concerns, and the Government will monitor the situation carefully. “If we don’t get enough of the new migration then we may need to consider further steps to encourage it. I think that’s the responsible thing to do. I’m discussing it with the Turkish ambassador this afternoon.”
The Government announces a new round of austerity measures. The flagship proposal is a new Austerity Commission. This will be a non-departmental body “entirely beyond meddling by politicians”. The Chancellor says that the new body will establish best practice and make proposals for feasibility studies under which equality impact assessments will be undertaken for all new spending proposals that breach the new austerity control budget ceiling envelope. “This is a bold new measure that will give real new impetus to our responsibility agenda on Government spending,” declares the Chancellor. His Labour shadow retorts that the measure is “too little, too late and a step too far, and we are deeply worried about the impacts on vulnerable civil servants”.
In a shock announcement, David Cameron announces that he is considering an early general election.
The next day, the President of the European Commission declares, “I believe it is too early to have an election in Britain and we will be considering this proposal from the British authorities very carefully. Elections can have unpredictable and dangerous results.”
The Prime Minister announces that there will not be an election after all. “I have discussed the proposal for an early election with the European President and I firmly believe it is the courageous and right course of action for this Government to continue with the programme we have set out.” In an article for the Daily Mail headlined “Why I am Fighting on for Britain”, Mr Cameron says, “It is right and proper that we should continue with the mandate we received from the electorate and I will be using every means at my disposal to ensure we get permission from the Government to hold an election in due course.”
Rumours swirl that David Cameron is about to resign as Prime Minister and be replaced by a European technocrat. The European President denies the rumours, saying that Mr Cameron has all the qualities that the European Commission could wish for in a British Prime Minister.
The new Austerity Commission announces an investigation into the House of Commons. “In our search for spending discipline, we must leave no stone unturned,” says the head of the Commission. “The House of Commons represents a significant item of government expenditure and we will be assessing whether it delivers value for the taxpayer.”
The European Court of Human Rights begins hearing a case brought by a resident of the English Eastern Region, who is originally from Sofia. The resident complains that his human rights were breached because his children were taught only in English at school. Through an interpreter, he tells the press: “Why should my children be forced to have their lessons in English? This is a relic of the past that has no place in 21st century Europe.”
To head off a likely defeat in the Court, new laws are rushed through forcing schools to provide simultaneous translation of all lessons into all 26 EU languages. There are worries that the cost of this may be prohibitive for schools, but a spokesman for the Department for Education points out that schools can make the necessary savings by cutting out superfluous activities like teaching mathematics, science and history. “The main function of schools, after all, is to create responsible and open-minded citizens of our European Union, and not to waste time teaching.”
The Austerity Commission report is published, and its recommendations accepted by the Government. Members of the House of Commons are to be appointed rather than elected. Says the Leader of the House: “This is a minor procedural change but will save the taxpayer several million pounds a year. The Austerity Commission is already proving its worth.”
David Cameron announces his resignation as Prime Minister. The reason he gives is that “I am fed up with trying to explain the entirely sensible decisions of Government experts to people who don’t even have Oxbridge degrees.” The Labour leader complains that “It is ridiculous to refer to the British authorities as a ‘Government’. In modern Europe, there is no place for old-fashioned talk like that.”
The European Commission replaces Mr Cameron with a new Commissioner for the English Regions. “The previous intention was to begin the new election-free regime in 2015,” declares the new Commissioner. “However, we announce today that the new improved governance for this region will begin immediately.”
All this makes little impact however as it coincides with the final of The X Factor.
The Commissioner for the English Regions announces that the standard rate of VAT will be increased to 40%, there will be new restrictions on emigration, censorship of the media will be imposed and a new internet firewall, nicknamed “Family and Children First”, will be introduced. This will allow internet access only to websites that are on a Government whitelist. The new Information Safeguarding Commissioner explains that “the public expect us to protect them from dangerous information that could jeopardise their peace of mind”.
The House of Commons opens as a tourist attraction. Visitors will be able to sit on the historic green benches, with helpful guides to explain how in years gone by Britain’s laws used to be made by people sitting on them. Apparently the laws were made by people whose only qualification was that they had received more crosses on a ticksheet called a “ballot paper”.
The latest growth figures are expected to show that Britain is once more in recession. However, publication is delayed whilst “checks are made to ensure that the figures are robust”. A spokesman for the Office for National Statistics regrets that their website is unavailable “due to minor technical issues”. He regrets that he is unable to say when it might be available again but points out that it is only a regional body anyway and “authorised people can get all the relevant statistics from the Government in Brussels.”
Two days later, the spokesman apologises for referring to the Capital of Europe as “Brussels” when it should be known as “Bruxelles”. “Je m’excuse,” he mumbles in a bad French accent, as he is taken away by police.
The Commissioner for the English Regions announces Christmas card rationing, and imposes a 500% tax on the sale of turkeys. A man in a red cloak, driving a sleigh and with a sack full of suspected smuggled contraband, is arrested by European Customs at Dover. Customs officers destroy the sack, which is found to contain subversive materials including toys, in a controlled explosion. The owner of the sleigh is detained indefinitely at the new European Correction Centre in the Outer Hebrides.
In his first annual Christmas message, the European President celebrates “a year of European awakening, in which we have finally perfected the union of the peoples of Europe. And anyone who doesn’t want to be united can join Mr Claus in the Hebrides.”