Changing England’s borders

One of the main reasons there are so many people in favour of separate parliaments for Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland is that England is dominating the UK so heavily.

Just look at the pie chart on the right – England constituted 84% of the UK’s population in 2001.

I therefore decided to investigate some ways of fixing the English problem by changing England’s borders. I’ve mainly used the English Regions for the following maps and figures.

My first idea was to extend Scotland (adding Cumbria and the North-East) and Wales (adding Cornwall and the rest of the South-West), bringing both up to about eight million inhabitants.

It’s nowhere near enough, though – England is still more than big enough to run the show undisturbed.

To make this approach work, I guess Scotland would have to be extended all the way down to the Humber, and Wales would have to encompass the West Midlands, but that would completely undermine the Scottishness of Scotland and the Welshness of Wales.

My second idea was to split England into East and West along a line extending down from the Pennines, but that isn’t enough, either: East England would be able to run the show on their own (but only just – moving a few counties such as Hampshire from East to West would take the East down under 50%).

One might also argue that Cumbria is much more similar to Northumberland than to Somerset, so it might not be a very natural split.

I also wonder whether London would dominate the East so strongly that the genuine needs of the peripheral areas would be completely overlooked.

Another option would be to create a Greater London by merging London with the East and South East of England. This would actually work fairly well – although Greater London would be a lot less populous than the Rest of England, it would probably be able to hold its own given the way London dominates the whole of the UK.

This might also be a very good way for the remainder of England to build up a identity separate from London, perhaps centred around Manchester or Birmingham.

Finally, I tried to recreate the Danelaw. This would actually balance the two halves of England very neatly and would from a mathematical point of view be the best solution. However, it would place London on the border (just south of it, to be precise), and I’m not sure whether that’d be a good or a bad thing.

From the point of view of Danelaw, its economy would be hugely influenced by London (and many people would be commuting from Danelaw into London), but it wouldn’t have any influence on over it.

From the point of view of non-Danelaw England (Wessex?), it would completely dominated by London, although it would be in periphery.