Fifty-ONE

“Prime Minister, why not apply to be an American state? England would be the fifty-first…”

Peter Swarbrick's new satire Fifty-ONE is drawn straight from tomorrow's headlines.

With the passing of the Queen, the nation enters a sad and frightening new world.

Scotland votes for independence and immediately challenges the status of "the entity governed from London" at the United Nations. The new Scottish ambassador announces: "The so-called United Kingdom seat in the Security Council is currently occupied by an illegitimate English rump."

Anti-European feeling in England culminates in a vote to leave the EU.

The Commonwealth suspends England for not giving its members enough foreign aid.

Very well, alone. What now?

Across the Atlantic, Britain’s old ally has its own problems. Growing Chinese military dominance has shut the US Navy out of the Pacific west of Pearl Harbor. Latin America, booming economically, is actively courting American states with large Hispanic populations, including Texas and California. A nationalist government in Canada announces its intention to build a wall the entire length of its border with the United States—and at least two American states want to be on the Canadian side. Polls are unanimous that the large Republican majority in both Houses of Congress will be swept from office at the next elections. And a bill to make English the official language of the United States is being kicked to pieces in committee.

In both London and Washington, the answer seems clear. Admit England as the fifty-first state of the United States of America. And do it quickly, so that its built-in conservative majority can shore up the Republicans in the House and Senate before the elections.

Meanwhile, the middle-aged, downtrodden Lancashire comedian Sidney Hancock has recently become modestly famous on both sides of the pond for his role in Fifty-ONE, a TV sitcom in which he plays an English-born American senator. Manipulated by his mousy wife Doris, Sidney decides to run for president himself—in real life.

England, long accustomed to disdainful treatment by Washington, is suddenly the largest state by population in the union, to be fawned upon by American politicians. “Eighty electoral votes! Who cares about freakin’ Iowa now?” asks President Grover Hackney.

Fifty-ONE culminates in a presidential debate in Sidney’s home town of Morecambe, as secret service snipers take up positions on the rooftops of Morrisons and Gala Bingo, helicopters hover overhead, and a US Navy nuclear submarine patrols Morecambe Bay...