Dawn was breaking as the modified Landrover drove out of Catterick Garrison and turned east for a routine patrol. Sergeant Heather Wilkinson sat in the left hand seat next to driver, Lance Corporal Garry Miller, inevitably known as ‘Dusty’. Trooper Kate Evans sat in the rear ready to man the general purpose machine gun if required. The clear blue sky promised a crisp dry day with a break from the blizzards that had covered everything with more than a foot of snow.
At the A1, they turned north. Dusty pressed the accelerator as they merged with other traffic on the dual carriageway, relieved that the sun was now on the right hand side of the vehicle rather than blindingly low on the horizon straight ahead reflecting off the snow covered fields. The surface of the road was potholed after years of underfunding and the Landrover, itself having seen better days, rattled and shook as it cruised along.
The designated zone boundary fence was about a quarter of a mile to the east and ran parallel to the old Great North Road. The barrier comprised two fences with five hundred yards of a zone sanitaire between them. It was reminiscent of the ‘Inner German Border’ that had separated East and West during the cold war forty odd years earlier. Like the IGB, further restricted areas ran inside both sides of the zone sanitaire. Special passes were required to access the restricted zones and any unauthorised person in the zone sanitaire was liable to be shot.
The boundary had been built to separate the ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ zones following the civil war after the UK had crashed out of the EU.
“So here we are after the first twelve declarations and it’s not looking good for Labour. They’ve lost all six former constituencies to the new parties; three to the Independent Democratic Party and three to the Reconciliation Party. The Conservatives have held on to both of their existing seats — but with massively reduced majorities.”
01:00 hrs 6th May 2022
03:30 hrs 6th May 2022
“191 seats have now been declared at 3.30am and we are seeing the biggest upheaval ever in British politics. Both Labour and Conservative parties are seeing their support decimated. They’ve both lost nearly half of their 2017 seats. The Liberal Democrats have gained 7 seats and UKIP 6 but the big winners are the Reconciliation and IDP in England and Plaid Cymru and the SNP in Scotland. How do you see the situation Julian?”
“This is an unprecedented situation, Matthew and almost impossible to predict the final outcome. I think we can assume that the swings from Conservatives and Labour to Reconciliation Party and the IDP will be reflected in the rest of England while Scottish and Welsh voters have shifted their allegiance to the Independence parties.”
“More than two thirds of constituents have now declared. Both Labour and Conservatives have suffered humiliating defeats losing more than half of the seats that they held in 2017. At the moment, IDP, with 81 seats is only just behind the Conservatives with 91 and Labour with 90. The referenda in Wales and Scotland now seem certain to result in the complete break-
“Well, Julian, we are seeing the end of the two party structure at least for the time being. The conservatives may still have the highest number of seats but they certainly won’t have an overall majority. Will they be able to do a deal with IDP and UKIP? Will that be sufficient to give them a majority? I doubt it.”
“Last night saw the biggest upheaval ever experienced in UK politics. The Independence Referenda will see Wales and Scotland leave the Union. It also seems likely that Northern Ireland will follow suit.”
“The leaders of both the Conservative and Labour parties have quit after the humiliating results for their parties. Both lost more than half of the seats they held before the election. The IDP with 126 seats and the Reconciliation Party with 93 are the biggest winners. The Liberal Democrats also made significant gains increasing their numbers from 12 to 51. In Wales, Plaid Cymru more than trebled their seats from 4 to 13 and in Scotland the SNP gained 23 seats nearly doubling their representatives from 34 to 57. Northern Ireland was unchanged as old loyalties appear to have outweighed considerations about Brexit.
13th May 2022
04:30 hrs 6th May 2022
“Here are the headlines this lunchtime:”
“Talks continue between the parties to form a government.”
“Further major riots have broken out in Salford, West Bromwich, Birmingham, Bristol and Peterborough. Other disturbances are reported in a number of locations.”
“The pound has fallen again against both the dollar and the euro. It is now worth 90 US cents and 80 Euro cents.”
“This is the lunchtime news on Friday 20th May.”
“Major battles have been reported in fifteen locations in the north-
“Reports suggest that they started when householders in the suburbs defended their properties from gangs from inner city areas who had been demanding more funding.”
“The army has been mobilised to quell the uprisings.”
“I’m here in Chester with John Charles, the representative of the Suburban Defence League. John, why do your members feel it is necessary to block the roads on the outskirts of Chester and prevent any access at night?”
“Our homes have been looted by gangs from Manchester and Liverpool. We know they are suffering shortages — but we have to protect what we have with everything in such short-
“This is Carol James for the lunchtime news; now back to the studio.”
“Here are the headlines at 12 noon on Friday 1st March 2024:”
“United Nations negotiators have announced that a cease fire will come into force at midnight tonight. Three Designated Areas have been established reflecting the position of the opposing sides in the Second Civil War. The remainder of the country, which roughly corresponds with the old kingdom will be renamed Wessex.
“Supporters of the rebel forces will be relocated from Wessex to the Designated Areas and those currently living in the Designated Areas who supported the Reconciliation Movement will be offered homes and employment in Wessex.
“The Designated Areas will be independent of Wessex and border zones will be established between the DAs and Wessex.”
Chapter 2 2028
Flying 3,000 feet above the patrol, an Artemis Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or drone, watched for possible insurgents. If it spotted any, the patrol would investigate, calling in further support if necessary. Today’s tasks would be easier for the operators as anyone trying to cross the prohibited zone would leave clear tracks in the snow.
A hundred miles to the south, two more Artemis took off from RAF Waddington near Lincoln. One would fly north along the same demarcation fence while the second followed the fence south through East Anglia. Each drone could stay on patrol at 60 knots for more than 25 hours. A total of more than 50 Artemis patrolled the eastern boundary and the North Kent zones providing virtually constant surveillance of the entire boundary .
The northern course would take them to the limit of the designated zone between Newcastle and the newly independent Scotland; the southern course ran around Cambridge to the Dartford crossing over the Thames then down North Kent to near Dover. There, the UAVs would make a 180 degree turn then follow the boundary in the opposite direction — making complete circuits in a little under twelve hours, returning to base after two circuits
Other Artemis took off from RAF Cosford in Shropshire to cover the Midlands and Northwest zones. At any time, day or night, 365 days per year, there would be nearly 150 drones in the air with a similar number being serviced or held in reserve.
Artemis pilots, some hardened by operations in Afghanistan, flew their charges from air-
Some of the Landrover crew had not been as abstentious. And were now suffering as a result.
“Shit. This bloody head,” moaned Kate.
“Tell me about it,” agreed Garry.
“I hope you’re not still over the limit, you dickheads,” Heather told them.
“To be honest, I’ve no idea. And the way I feel, death would be a relief right now,” replied Dusty.
“Just keep your eyes peeled or you’ll be on jankers,”
“But why do we have to go Dad?” protested Zoë.
“You know why, darling. If we stay here, we are in danger. The mobs are attacking anyone that voted leave in the referendum. We have to go to the caravan so we can all be safe.”
Danny Shepherd had been convinced that the UK should leave the EU but those idiots in London had screwed up the process. He knew that most of them didn’t really want to leave so had gone through the motions. Now they were faced with having to abandon the family home in Leicester and take refuge in their holiday caravan near Skegness. The jostling and abuse he and Pat, his wife, and Zoë had experienced had been bad enough; but last night a gang had gathered outside and thrown stones at their windows breaking several. He had no doubt that they would be back later and didn’t want to be around when they returned.
It wasn’t as though there was anything to keep them in Leicester. His job had gone. One of several hundred thousand lost when overseas markets dried up as the UK crashed out of the EU without a deal. The collapsing pound had partly compensated for the increased duties on British products — but only until the impact of the higher cost of imported raw materials fed through. By then, food prices had escalated, partly due to the exchange rate but also because foreign workers who had done so much of the work on farms had left, leaving crops rotting in the fields.