If…France Invaded Britain

If…is a new Cherwell Blogs feature, reflecting on the potential futures our currently absurd political landscape might bring. Today William Rees-Mogg considers the potential consequences of a Le Pen presidency, and its impact on Britain…

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The suggestion that France could invade Britain had been scoffed at by expert government analysts for centuries. “Surely,” ran their line of reasoning “a nation with such a famous reputation for cheese consumption and surrendering to German invasion would never consider, or indeed have the capacity to attempt an invasion of this Island”. How wrong they were.

In fact, the astoundingly successful invasion of 2018 had been coming for years. Francois Mitterand initiated the scheme in 1988 by beginning construction of an underground troop deployment passageway codenamed ‘The Channel Tunnel’. From this point a covert beach head was established on British soil and the French army began to prepare for an inevitable invasion.

The crisis which actually initiated the invasion came as a result of the attempts of the French government to find a solution to the ever growing migrant camps around Calais. Unfortunately, President Le Pen’s strategy of forced deportations drove increasing numbers of refugees to escape to England, by this point welcoming refugees with open arms after Tim Farron’s shock victory in the 2017 general election. With her popularity sliding and with whispers of incompetence flitting around Paris, President Le Pen decided that the embarrassment of what was occurring had to be stopped. Deciding to solve the problem at its source it made perfect sense for the French Army, nearly twice the size of their British counterparts, to invade.

French forces marched through the Tunnel and within a week had seized much of the South East, apart from Slough, which any sensible conqueror would naturally leave to its own devices. Tim Farron’s protestations that the French shouldn’t invade “because it’s 2015” were ignored because a) it wasn’t 2015 anymore and hadn’t been for three years, and b) because nobody ever bought the Trudeau comparison anyway. The Liberal Democrat Government was replaced with a puppet ‘national government’ led by Tony Blair (“I have one priority in government: Occupation, Occupation and Occupation…”) while French armies continued to advance. There were pockets of resistance: Somerset held out for months, and a sustained guerrilla campaign in Yorkshire saw that county become an independent state. Nicola Sturgeon’s hopes of a free Scotland were scotched when French ‘tourists’ in Edinburgh turned out to be agents in deep cover. Holyrood and Edinburgh Castle having been seized, the Tricolore was raised above Scotland as across much of the rest of the UK.

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Life under the new regime was distinctly strange for the population. Both Lancashire and Cornwall were given over entirely to the production of garlic, while all aspects of the thriving sparkling wine industry were drowned in a wave of regulation and taxation.

Nonetheless, noble resistance continued: Theresa May was elected Prime Minister in exile and issued inflammatory speeches from the last British Military outpost in the Falkland Islands (Akrotiri and Dhekelia, coupled with the majority of the RAF, had been taken in the early days of the war). Nigel Farage was rumoured to be heading the resistance, although his following of pot-bellied older gentlemen never seemed to carry out attacks on anything other than the posh new wine bars opening up around the country. These ‘’Supply Runs’’ quickly came to be seen as even more of a nuisance than the roving French gourmands who would set up in small villages, insist large meals were cooked for them, and then snootily refuse to eat them.

One particular fan of the new order was Jeremy Corbyn. He retired from public life to pen pamphlets explaining that he was no longer needed in British politics; after all, the French invasion had brought strikes and grumbling workers to the nation in a way which he could never have dreamed, while the massive Foie Gras complexes springing up around every corner represented exactly the state lead investment which he espoused. Owen Smith agreed with him, but said he would be more electable.

President Trump, El Rey de Mexico, King of the 50 States and Protector of the Realm reasoned that the UK deserved it because they had paid for a wall to be built in Calais, rather than making the French pay for it. Didn’t the UK know that America had the biggest army and the best of all armies and they would have stopped the French on their own if they had been there? Perhaps regrettably, nobody could hear him say any of this because he had been locked in his own office several years ago for the general health and wellbeing of the World.

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Yet as time wore on, the people of Britain endured the invasion with surprising equanimity. The motorway food had improved as a rule, and a thriving black market had opened up in newly prohibited items, from busts of Wellington, to copies of Jean Froissart’s History of the Hundred Years War. It did sting a bit when Nelson was removed from his column and Napoleon put in his place, and the guillotining of the Royal family was certainly regarded as a bit beyond the pale, but children could now smoke in schools, and the state retirement age had been reduced to 59. Furthermore, those parts of the population not wholly happy with the state of the nation were kept in line by the paramilitary ‘striped shirts’ armed with extremely stale baguettes. The best way of identifying yourself as a loyal supporter of the occupiers was to loudly and quickly sing the Marseillaise at all opportunities.

Alas, this state of affairs was not to last. From Free Yorkshire there eventually rose a leader who managed to ignite a patriotic fervour across the occupied territories. For it was Hilary Benn, after decades in the political wilderness, successfully reunited first the North, and then the South in a campaign to drive out the French occupiers, eventually rolling all the way to the gates of Paris. But that is a story for another day.