"A Very British Transition" - A Post-Junta Britain TL

So, I know the OP mentioned a few times he didn't want to go into the exact specifics of the POD, but as far as Northern Ireland is concerned, let's give it a try. While the running joke here is how much of the early chapters of the TL parallel the Spanish transition to democracy, only to speedrun right into austerity politics, Northern Ireland is the one thing that stands apart.

From what we know from the TL and the author's comments, the following bits are (rather loosely) canon:
*The general thrust of it, as just mentioned, is that of the Troubles but with a lot more dead people, culminating in a peace process of sorts akin to OTL that parallel the Cardiff Accords; as much as we can dispute it, that's the limiting framework; in addition, the UK-Ireland relationship is poor because of NI being under military occupation (pre-existing tensions in Northern Ireland here could suggest a parallel with Taiwan under the GMD or - minus the colonialism bit - the various attempts by the Kremlin during the Cold War period to limit the spread of alternatives to the existing Marxist-Leninist ideology, complete with human rights violations), further reinforced through having an NI veteran as Defence Minister in the Johnson Government, Hague's predecessor in National being a former Governor of NI, and Ireland proper as one of many havens for exiles (hence why, ITTL, Harvie hiding out in Dublin makes sense - not to mention symbolic value as the seat of the British government-in-exile during the Junta years)
*We also know, from the OP, that repression in Northern Ireland was very harsh (along with Scotland and Wales), leading to a renewal of the IRA from '68 onwards (so NICRA would be a cause for alarm on both sides of the Irish Sea, from the POV of the Junta and from Stormont), which suggests a parallel between Northern Ireland and the Spanish peripheral nations (considering the history of bombings and all that, including the formation of the World High Jump Record Holder meme, the closest parallel here would be of the IRA = ETA and hence NI = Basque Country), but considering Irish history and particularly NI's history in all its complexity, such a simplistic narrative will not do - not when Loyalist paramilitaries are still a thing alongside Civil Assistance, as well as both the Troubles and the Basque Country forming models for the conflict in Scotland that led to where Scotland is now ITTL
>Furthering it more is NI's central role during the British version of 23-F, as one of the main area of operations alongside London - not to mention reigniting sectarian tensions yet again
*We also know - much like in 1964 in Brazil (with the formation of ARENA [pronounced ah-RAY-nah] and the MDB) and Francoist Spain (with the formation of the FET y la JONS) - that the National/SDP formation was not entirely consensual (indeed, National was formed out of a motley crew of parties, including the UUP), which not only colors NI politics ITTL (alongside the existence of SF and the SDLP - as with OTL) but also seeks to conform NI to the British political norm, governed like the rest of the UK (even with its own quirks)

Considering all that, that suggests some parameters.
*The first concern for the Junta, in order to stabilize its situation post-coup, is to ensure the rest of the country falls in line. Northern Ireland by design is distinct from the rest of the UK insofar as (because of the 1920 Fourth Home Rule Bill) it has its own parliament. Under normal peaceful circumstances (pre OTL/pre-POD) that would mean Westminster and Whitehall could allow it to fall off their radar as it could take care of itself (no matter how horrendous it was); in the context of a military occupation, with Northern Ireland holding the same status as the rest of the UK and holding a land border through which dissidents could escape, the Junta would see it as a security risk.
*Then there's the matter of O'Neill's Government and the rise of NICRA, both of which are anathema to the politics of fear that governed NI up until the POD. While both were ultimately necessary to ease some of the tensions going on (even if they were years ahead of the time, although NICRA was in parallel with other similar events going on worldwide during the '60s), it also creates a problem for the Junta, both as a potential bastion for opposition and also (as you noted) if things went wrong to make Republicanism (with a capital R) a cross-community thing. From a Unionist POV, that cannot be allowed to happen, as that means the old sectarian fears would be rising up again.
*Finally, there's also the left-wing turn the Officials took towards a more Marxist line. From the point of view of dissidents, that is unacceptable as it's basically abandoning The Struggle (TM/MC) - not to mention that by that point, Ireland proper was going its own way, with things going on in Belfast et. al. a minor part of one's peripheral world-view. (Not when there's more exciting stuff going on, like the introduction of television, free secondary education, and the beginning of Sean Lemass's economic reforms, for instance.)

So the Junta would need to find a way to tar anything "Irish" with a broad brush, whether or not it was accurate, and try to condition the people to accept British military rule while still having an armed struggle going on that is still recognizably similar to OTL as a sectarian conflict gone pear-shaped. Anything that would be seen as uniting Northern Ireland together against the Junta, altering its political and social divisions, would need to be prevented, full stop. One part of this would be exploiting sectarian tensions and tarring with a broad brush its left-wing opponents (NILP, the IRA/SF, etc.) as "Communists" and terrorists. But it needs to be much more than that to bring NI on board with the rest of the UK (and hence making the NI conflict reasonably similar to, if not exactly like, the Troubles, probably with bringing forward both the OTL events of 1969 and 1972, probably even having them blend into each other).

On one hand, the Junta would basically be functioning like apartheid-era South Africa when it comes to exploiting sectarian tensions (including adopting a very broad definition of Communism as being anti-Junta and consolidating and increasing the repression of Catholics through a similar battery of laws as apartheid South Africa unleashed in the 1950s and/or even a strengthened variation of the old Penal Laws). As a possible focus for anti-Junta resistance, that would mean increased repression on coupled with co-opting of the Catholic Church (in which case the Junta would be in good company with certain Latin American dictatorships). Armagh would be a bloodbath all throughout the Junta (including the Church of Ireland as well, as it became more anti-Junta), as the mother seat of Christianity in Ireland.

On the other hand, the Junta would need to eliminate all other alternative definitions of Unionism (funnelling such dissent leading towards the transition out of Northern Ireland and into the rest of the UK or with the British government-in-exile and prevent possible cross-community "contamination", creating a cordon sanitaire around Irish nationalism and retaining the pre-O'Neill status quo. (In effect, what would ultimately IOTL become Alliance should not be allowed to form. but instead funnelled into a moderate nationalism led by the SDLP - making it a NI counterpart to the SDP on the Mainland - once liberalization under Hill-Norton starts.) So the Junta would need to engineer a split within the UUP in order to create a NI wing of National by scapegoating O'Neill et. al. as traitors to the Protestant faith and the British Crown (that Protestantism in Northern Ireland is pretty diverse would be immaterial to a Junta seeking "stability", but the vitriol is such to prevent the Catholic Church from becoming a cross-community arena of anti-Junta resistance), not to mention ravaging the NILP so that it too becomes part of National purely on the grounds of maintaining Unionism and Protestant supremacy. NI's Home Rule Parliament and Government would also need to be forcibly abolished (and hence the 1920 Government of Ireland Act repealed and replaced with something else), necessitating a period of direct rule (reverting to the 1801-1920 status quo) before a provincial government (under military occupation) would be set up.

Would it be difficult to pull off? Probably, but that's how having the *Troubles play out under the Junta would have to work, through marginalizing any opposition that would want to frame it as ideological and reframe it as a sectarian conflict that ultimately would be damaging to the Junta in the long run. In that light, it could therefore be easy to square with what happens ITTL with the British version of 23-F, where Protestant militias take over the provincial government in Belfast alongside the military occupation of Northern Ireland, leading to protests and riots in Catholic neighborhoods in response. Ultimately, though, much of it hinges on keeping a clamp on butterflies in NI by having the OTL narrative conform to the whims and needs of the Junta.
This is a pretty incredible piece of work.

But yes I didn't mean to imply Northern Ireland is exactly the same, and indeed the troubles played out very differently to OTL, with political violence spreading across community lines. I meant in broad terms Northern Ireland isn't as different to OTL as Scotland is - with the main themes of the TL, political violence, party fragmentation and the peaceful democratic transition process all having occurred in OTL Northern Ireland.

But for the sake of brevity I have decided to focus on GB because a detailed dive around Junta/Transition Northern Ireland would be an entire TL in and of itself. If anyone else would like to write that I would be delighted to see it, but I unfortunately don't have the NI knowledge to do such a complicated TL justice!
 
"And as Scotland Goes to the Polls the price of Heating Oil, Fertiliser and public house property insurance have risen as expected."
 
How did the Republic of Ireland react to the coup and fare during the Juntas rule of their next door neighbour?

What was the Juntas policy towards the Republic during the troubles in NI?

ITTL did a certain planning exercise for troops crossing the border known as Exercise Armageddon still take place and if so was it perhaps considered as more of a serious option as opposed to the mass suicide pact of OTL?

On the subject of that particular "Exercise" did the Junta ever seriously consider carrying out operations South of the border for any reason?
The Republic condemned the coup, taking in the greatest number of British exiles, most notably Jim Callaghan and the British Government in Exile.

The Junta's initially closed off diplomatic relations with the Republic after the ROI refused to extradite Callaghan and the various other exiles. As it liberalised in the 90s it reestablished contact with the Republic although things were still icy.

Exercise Armageddon and other plans to intervene in Northern Ireland were considered but they were still pretty suicidal, aside from NATO intervention the plan had all the same drawbacks as OTL, coupled with a much more militarised and less restrained UK.

A few of the Junta's most hardline generals wanted an attack on the Republic at various points throughout the dictatorship, either to secure British exiles, project power, or neo-imperialist dogma. But these were never taken seriously by leadership as invading Ireland would be insane.
 
This is a pretty incredible piece of work.
Thank you. :)
But yes I didn't mean to imply Northern Ireland is exactly the same, and indeed the troubles played out very differently to OTL, with political violence spreading across community lines. I meant in broad terms Northern Ireland isn't as different to OTL as Scotland is - with the main themes of the TL, political violence, party fragmentation and the peaceful democratic transition process all having occurred in OTL Northern Ireland.

But for the sake of brevity I have decided to focus on GB because a detailed dive around Junta/Transition Northern Ireland would be an entire TL in and of itself. If anyone else would like to write that I would be delighted to see it, but I unfortunately don't have the NI knowledge to do such a complicated TL justice!
Makes sense. While I don't have the requisite NI knowledge either outside of Wiki, I could be interested - and yet I have a few other TL projects I'm working on. OTOH, if someone else started work on it, I could definitely help both with writing and planning out the TL project.
 
Chapter 102: Schroindger’s Scotland
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Whispers of a leadership challenge to Hague had become a chorus

“Britain's prime minister has defended his handling of the Scottish crisis after the snap election he called resulted in pro-independence parties holding on to their majority. The three separatist parties won a total of 48 seats in the 95-seat regional parliament. Speaking the day after, Hague stood by his strategy of taking control of the region in response to an illegal independence referendum. Asked whether he accepted responsibility for the disastrous poll showing of his National party, Hague replied: “I accept responsibility for anything that happens to party." He shrugged off suggestions that his use of article 219 of the Cardiff Accords had proved costly and counterproductive. “Article 219 was applied as it needed to be,” he said. “We were prudent. It was applied with the agreement of an enormous majority in the senate.”” - UK PM defends handling of Scottish crisis after election blow, NBC News Bulletin (2018)

The three unilateralist parties had secured an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament, in many ways this was incredibly impressive considering the separatists had their leadership decapitated and the full force of the state against them. Strong turnout also gave the nationalists reasons to be cheerful, with nearly three quarters of Scots turning out to vote - one of the highest turnouts in post-Junta history - the result was obviously legitimate. Particularly delightful for RISE was the decimation of National, who collapsed to just three seats - putting them behind the Worker’s Party in total votes. The hated Tories had been completely wiped out north of Berwick.
It wasn’t all sunshine for the Harviestas, nationalists had very narrowly lost the popular vote, and the unionist bloc was a lot more unified than the separatists, as Unity had swallowed up the declining support for National and the SDP. Meanwhile a relatively strong result for the smaller seperatist parties - especially the Workers’ Party - emboldened them ahead of coalition negotiations. There was also the question of what would happen to the various imprisoned or exiled parliamentarians. Nine of RISE’s 27 strong delegations were abroad or in Belmarsh, including the President himself. Whilst RISE argued the result represented a clear repudiation of Article 219 - and a mandate for Harvie to return home - it was unclear whether the courts would agree with this interpretation.
Ultimately the result hadn’t been divisive enough to answer any of these questions, and in terms of pure maths, little had changed from 2017 - aside from National’s wipe out. Ultimately the only winner of this election was uncertainty. If the courts blocked Harvie’s return things would only get more chaotic, there was no one else able to hold the seperatist coalition together, let alone the broad internal church of RISE’s competing factions. Figures who might be able to pick up Harvie’s torch like Tommy Sheppard were also living in cells or hotel rooms. Most that remained of RISE’s leadership were grizzled old hands like Jim Sillars and Alex Neil, who both came with their own controversies.





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Tomkins now led a caucus of three

“Patrick Harvie has called for new talks with Westminster after separatist parties won a slim majority in Sunday's election. He said he wanted the negotiations in Dublin, where he is living in self-imposed exile, or another EU country. William Hague later appeared to reject the idea. He said he would hold talks with the head of the new Scottish government but that leader would have to take up their post in Scotland itself. "Scotland wants to be an independent state," said Mr Harvie, speaking in Ireland on Friday. "This is the wish of the Scottish people. William Hague's plan is not working, so we have to find new ways to tackle this crisis." Mr Hague's National Party recorded its worst ever result in Thursday's vote. Hague had hoped that the poll would restore stability and said the British government was "willing to talk".”
- Harvie calls for talks with Westminster, BBC News Bulletin (2018)

In a night of no real winners, there was one clear loser - William Hague. Hague had thrown everything at squashing Scottish separatism, from tanks on the street to Article 219 itself. Hague had put a great deal of personal and political capital behind preventing a nationalist majority, now his party had been swept away and the sharks in Westminster smelt blood. One YouGov poll published after the election results had National polling at just 18% nationwide, well behind the UPA. In England, National was quickly losing ground to the radical right Centrists who were going from strength to strength polling as high as 12%.

The first issue came when the Courts ruled any elected MSPs must take their oaths of loyalty to the King in person in St Andrew’s House by a month after their election date. If no oaths were made, their seat in the Scottish Parliament would carry over to the next candidate on their party’s list. This obviously made things difficult for Mr Harvie who had a small army of police waiting at every Scottish airport for his return. Tommy Sheppard and Keith Brown appealed to be released on bail in order to attend their swearing-in ceremonies but this was also denied by the courts due to the pair’s “long time commitment to un-constitutional and extra-parliamentary actions”.

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Both sides knew they had reached a dead end

As the clock turned closer to one month, the seperatist parties got to work putting their coalition back together. The RISE/SNP pact made several concessions to the Workers Party - although notably not Ministerial jobs - these included pledges to introduce strict rent caps to ease Scotland’s housing crisis and stronger investment in state funded renewable energy. Whilst McLaren made a great song and dance during talk, this deal was agreed fairly quickly In reality the seperatist parties had little choice but to work together. With the threat of another Government crackdown hanging over their heads, the separatists had to form a stable government to prevent a second imposition of the detested Article 219.

The parties also agreed to demand Patrick Harvie's accession as President, whilst this was portrayed as a symbolic act against Harvie’s exile, in reality there were few other than Harvie who could attract support across the seperatist spectrum. With just days to go before the investiture deadline, Harvie was officially proposed to the Scottish Parliament - yet again Scotland’s fate would be fought at the courts. Firstly to decide whether Harvie was legally an MSP and secondly to decide whether the Government would be compelled to allow his return to lead the Scottish Government. Scotland now had a Schrodinger’s President leading a Schrodinger’s Government.

“Scotland's parliament nominated former leader Patrick Harvie as President in a sign of defiance to London and William Hague. Harvie and his supporters say he can rule from self-imposed exile in Ireland, where he fled to avoid arrest. London has rejected this possibility and said it will challenge any attempt by him to rule remotely in the courts. Harvie said on Monday the independence movement would not bow to British authority during a talk at the University of Copenhagen. "We will not surrender to authoritarianism," Harvie said at the event, which marked his first trip away from Ireland in three months. Harvie became the top candidate after elections in Scotland last month gave secessionists a slim majority. The 47-year old faces decades of jail in Britain if he is convicted of the charges leveled against him.” - Scottish crisis rekindled as parliament proposes Harvie as President, Reuters (2018)

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Harvie hoped the election result was a mandate for his return
 
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2018 Scottish Election Detailed Results
  • RISE: 27 (+4)
  • Unity: 20 (+3)
  • Scottish National Party: 13 (-)
  • United People Alliance : 13 (-)
  • Social Democratic Party: 9 (-3)
  • Workers' Party of Scotland: 8 (+2)
  • The National Party: 3 (-6)
  • Alba: 2 (-)
 
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Chapter 103: Plan D
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Without Harvie, Brown or Sheppard, the separatists would need to move onto plan D

“The Supreme Court has moved to block Patrick Harvie from assuming the presidency of Scotland. The former leader has been living in Brussels escaping charges of sedition and rebellion. Mr Harvie is the only candidate for the Scottish presidency, but the Supreme Court has now ruled he cannot lead the region's parliament from abroad. Mr Harvie believes he was given a democratic mandate for his declaration of independence. The charges against the separatist leader are serious, and could result in 30 years in prison. Supporters of Mr Harvie had argued that he could carry out his role with the use of technology such as video links from Dublin. The British government has contested that a "fugitive" cannot lead a regional parliament. Downing Street had asked the court to rule on the issue. In a statement, the court said that it was suspending Mr Harvie's swearing in.”
- Court rules Harvie must return to UK to assume Presidency (2019)

The Supreme Court’s ruling was as swift as it was expected, after several weeks of back and forth the court declared the President of Scotland had to be able to physically attend confidence votes in St Andrews House. Furthermore as Harvie had not attended his swearing in ceremony he was legally no longer an MSP, and his Glasgow seat would pass to the next in line on the RISE electoral list. The separatist coalition now had a choice, legally they had a few months to present a President, or the Scottish Parliament would automatically dissolve. They could either refuse to nominate someone in protest, allowing for a snap election, or they would have to choose someone else.

Repeated snap elections risked the electorate tapping out and voting for a unionist just to end the impasse - or worse Westminster re-imposing Article 219. The Scottish economy had been absolutely hammered by the constitutional crisis, dragging it on even further risked real hardship and perhaps even a local recession. In a call with leading members of the coalition Harvie confirmed he was willing to step aside as Scottish President to allow someone else to take the reins - telling party allies he didn’t want to hold the movement back. Now the coalition had to negotiate a new candidate for President, someone who could appeal from the rural conservatives in the SNP all the way to hardliners in the Worker’s Party.

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RISE's popular Deputy Leader - Tommy Sheppard - was also denied a request to form a Government from Belmarsh

The question was who? Harvie’s deputy Tommy Sheppard was in prison so he was automatically excluded, other senior ministers like Dennis Canavan, Colin Fox and Maggie Chapman were in Dublin with Harvie. Nearly half of RISE’s parliamentary caucus had only been elected that year, many of them were older activists who had agreed to stand as paper candidates at the bottom of the list, but had slowly been dragged to the top as those above them lost their court appeals. The oldest of these was 86 year old Ian Gilbert. What experienced MPs remained were either old bruisers like Jim Sillars or younger radicals like Martin Compston, both alienated some of the nationalist church.

“Patrick Harvie appears to have conceded defeat in the struggle for independence, according to leaked text messages. "Downing's Street's plan has triumphed,” reads one of the messages allegedly sent to one of his former ministers. Harvie sent the messages on Tuesday to another exiled pro-independence politician, Dennis Canavan. “I suppose it is clear to you that this is over,” reads another text, adding that he hopes it is true because then “everyone can get out of jail”. Other leaders of his secessionist government are jailed in London. Harvie and Canavan neither confirmed nor denied the content of the exchange, but both condemned the violation of privacy. “Obtaining private conversations from third parties is a crime in Ireland and the UK,” tweeted Canavan. Harvie also reacted on Twitter: “I am human and there are times that I also doubt.”” - Harvie tells allies it’s over, Politico (2019)

One figure did emerge, Alex Neil. Neil was the former leader of RISE and had been credited with detoxifying it after Sheridan was expelled from the party. He briefly served as a Minister under Harvie before being elected as the Scottish Parliament’s Speaker - technically making him an independent. Neil’s role as Speaker had protected him from prosecution during the referendum, whilst allowing him to play a prominent role in Scottish politics. Broadly liked across the Parliament for his outspoken nature Neil was the only real candidate to be “acting President” in Harvie’s stead. After another long set of negotiations, Neil was officially nominated as the coalition’s candidate for President.

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Harvie was happy to martyr himself for the cause

Neil was mocked in the press for being RISE’s “Plan D” well behind other better known figures. Still by just one vote Neil was elected as President of Scotland. His investiture speech was consensual, saying his government would negotiate “constructively and within the confines of the law” to secure independence for Scotland and the release of “political prisoners”. However Neil also used the speech to bush boundaries, telling legislators “we will never renounce our right to self-determination, a democratic referendum is the only solution” Neil said. Whilst Neil had called for negotiation, he had refused to apologise for his role in the illegal referendum, and had used some quite fiery language, now it was up to London to accept him or not.

In an official Palace statement King Charles welcomed Neil, this was shortly followed by Hague who promised to lift Article 219 once Neil had appointed a cabinet "able to carry out its duties in Edinburgh” - effectively warning Neil no exiles or prisoners. After eight months of direct rule, the worst of the Scottish crisis at least seemed to be over, much to the outrage of National hardliners who wanted Hague to keep crushing the Scots until they voted the right way. Now negotiations between theoretical equals could begin, the Scottish economy saw an almost instant bounce as nervous investors were finally calmed for the first time in almost a year. Neil agreed to Hague’s terms, publishing a list of ministers the next day - mostly made up of the bottom of the separatist barrel, the plan D President announced a series of plan E ministers.

Neil Cabinet 2019-
  • President - Alex Neil (RISE)
  • Vice-President - Joanna Cherry (SNP)
  • Minister of Governance and Institutional Relations - Lorna Slater (RISE)
  • Minister of Agriculture and the Environment - Jean Urquhart (RISE)
  • Minister of Home Affairs - John Swinney (SNP)
  • Minister of Justice -Anne McLaughlin (RISE)
  • Minister of Economy and Knowledge - Chris Stephens (RISE)
  • Minister of Culture - Mike Russell (SNP)
  • Minister of Enterprise and Employment - Rosie Kane (RISE)
  • Minister of Education - Graham Campbell (RISE)
  • Minister of Health - Angus Robertson (SNP)
  • Minister of Territory and Sustainability - Laura Brennan-Whitefield (RISE)
“Scottish President Alex Neil has appointed a Cabinet, paving the way for an end to the eight-month vacuum in the regional government. London's special controls over the region will lift once the new Cabinet is sworn in over the weekend. The respite in the Scottish crisis comes as Hague faces rumours of no-confidence vote Friday. Neil, who came to power last month promising to resume independence efforts met with the new appointments late on Tuesday. Among the new nominees is Lorna Slater, a key adviser to ousted Scottish president Patrick Harvie, who is in Dublin. Slater will also be the regional government's chief negotiator, Neil said. The spat over Scotland's future prompted the UK's worst political crisis in decades. Three of the UK's four main political parties at the national level have been united against independence so far.” - New Scottish Cabinet in line to end 7-month power vacuum, Reuters (2019)

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Scotland was back in the fold for now
 
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Every time I see Alex Neil in this timeline, my mind automatically assumes it's the former Norwich City manager (who's also a Scot, but about a decade younger and has nothing to do with politics).

Another great update, @powerab!
 
Chapter 104: Survivor
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Surviving a recession and a constitutional crisis, Hague was finally brought low

“The issue of corruption in William Hague's National Party has returned with a vengeance to the top of Britain's political agenda. His party’s former treasurer, Rupert Harrison was sentenced to decades in prison for benefiting from a kickbacks scheme. The judges sentenced 39 other politicians, who received more than 400 years in combined prison sentences. Mr. Hague’s party is the first British political force to be convicted of operating a slush fund. A no-confidence vote against the prime minister is not yet a certainty, and will need the backing of other parties. Mr. Hague’s fate is in the hands of the Unity party, which has supported him since 2016. On Friday, Leader Alan Sugar told Hague to either resign or expect Unity to join the no-confidence motion against him.”
- Hague Government Is Threatened by Verdicts in Corruption Case, Shawn McCreesh (2019)

Hague was a dead man walking, he had gambled on Scotland and he had lost, the separatists still controlled the country, Harvie was out of his reach and Britain had been humiliated on the global stage. Among his own MPs the hardliners were angered that Hague hadn’t crushed the treasonous Scots when he had the chance, repealing devolution legislation whilst he had the chance. His own Deputy Jeremy Clarkson had effectively been running a shadow leadership campaign for the last three years as Hague’s authority plummeted. His only saving grace was a relatively weak opposition, with the left divided between UPA and SDP his Parliamentary opposition were unable to put up a strong fight - but even this seemed to change as the SDP continued to fall in the polls.

Hague was a famous survivor of British politics, having survived the fall of the Junta and clawed his way to the top through National’s brutal power struggles in opposition. Poor polling and unruly Scots on their own he could survive, but then the gavel fell. For over five years Rupert Harrison, National’s former Treasurer had been making his way through the courts accused of corruption and funnelling dirty money through the National Party. The judges ruled Harrison and the National Party’s finance department had taken illegal kickbacks in return for favourable public contracts, and the party was “institutionally corrupt”. Harrison was sentenced to 47 years in prison, and the National Party was fined 350,000 euros.

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Khan had failed to impress as SDP leader

Worse for Hague personally, the verdict ruled Hague had not been truthful in his court testimony several other leading National politicians would be officially accused of profiting including Clarkson and Chancellor Nicholas Soames. With three of National’s leading politicians caught up in the Harrison affair, Unity decided to cut itself off as quickly as possible. Emboldened by its strong result in Scotland, Alan Sugar announced Unity would be pulling its Commons support for the Hague Government, and he would support Leader of the Opposition Bell Ribeiro-Addy if she chose to table a vote of no confidence in Hague as Prime Minister. National had officially been robbed of its majority.

“The UPA has filed a no-confidence motion against William Hague after National was found to have benefited from illegal kickbacks. Bell Ribeiro-Addy, said the verdict in the Harrison trial had “damaged the health of our democracy”. “That is why we have filed a motion of no confidence against William Hague this morning,” she said after a meeting of UPA leadership. “A motion of no confidence that aims to bring normality back to our public life. Ito do away with this corruption thriller into which National has plunged our politics. Then we can finally talk about the things that matter to our citizens.” Ribeiro-Addy said the UPAs “route map” was intended to regenerate democracy by calling snap elections. The Social Democratic Party has said it will back the UPA’s motion. Unity has also urged Hague to resign.” - UPA file no-confidence motion against William Hague, Sam Jones, The Guardian (2019)

As well as losing Unity Hague was quickly losing control of his own party, hardliners and moderates alike looked to the third party liferafts. Both Unity for the liberals and Centrists for the radicals were in the ascendancy, a tantalising proposition for job-anxious National MPs. Not wanting to be brought down with Hague, David Davis, Michael Clapp and Graham Brady all announced their resignation from the Cabinet, with Chief Whip Michael Gove warning not a single backbench National MP would agree to take their place. Polls showed National falling to third place behind the UPA and Unity, after the Social Democrats had been Pasokified the downfall of another major party wasn’t unthinkable the way it had been ten years ago.

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Bell was within touching distance of number 10

Hague hoped to hide behind the Scottish crisis, he attacked his critics for using the “judicial process for political gain” and “shamelessly causing chaos during a constitutional crisis”. Patrick Harvie’s laughter could be heard all the way from Dublin. In another act of desperation Hague approached Sadiq Khan, asking him to keep the Government afloat until order was restored to Scotland. Whilst National and the SDP had worked closely together during the imposition of Article 219, the relative quiet in Scotland - with a new Cabinet in place - meant Hague’s warning of a collapse in the Scottish peace process didn’t really ring true.

Seeing the writing on the wall, Hague announced he would be calling a National Party leadership election, with the hope of his successor being able to rebuild the National-Unity pact. National had recently moved away from the “Magic Circle” system to elect its leaders - where the Cabinet elected the next party leader - to a conference system, where National Party delegates would elect the party’s leader. Hague promised to lead a transitional government, keeping the lights on whilst the National Party elected a new leader to place before the House of Commons. Whilst Ribeiro-Addy demanded a snap election immediately both the SDP and Unity agreed to hold off on bringing the Government down until a new leader could be appointed - most likely in the hope such a leadership election would destroy National.

“William Hague has announced that he will be stepping down from his role as president of the National Party and leaving politics. Since taking on the leadership Hague was won three elections, spending seven years in power. The abrupt exit of Hague from National's leadership has opened an internal battle within the conservative group. In the frame to replace him are Deputy Jeremy Clarkson, Chancellor Nicholas Soames and Foreign Secretary David Davis. However all three have been implicated to various degrees in the Harrison scandal. Some in the party have called for a younger face, names include Tom Tugendhat, Penny Morduant, Rory Stewart or Michael Gove. Deputy Leader Jeremy Clarkson was seen in a position of strength for the leadership battle but has fallen to third place on the bookies table.” - National Party begins internal battle for power, BBC News Bulletin (2019)

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Half of National's big beats had been taken out in one
 
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