Slowly, slowly the truth dawned. Well, that is, if you define slowly as a couple of minutes. It only seemed slow because time froze – flashbulb memory and all that. Nobody would ever forget the enormity of what was happening around them – Europe Day, May 9th, 2017 – the 67th anniversary of the Schumann declaration.
At precisely noon, bells rang out, chimes, hooters and klaxons, a cacophony of sound from all directions. Strategically placed devices covered the country – no-one was not in earshot. TV stations, computer screens and mobile phones all came to life. Phone conversations were ended, programs interrupted – the ring of stars displayed – then a smiling face….
"Dear subjects", pronounced President Blair, "today is a great day for all Europeans, our regional policy is complete, and the Dunkirk Treaty which we have just agreed is to be implemented with immediate effect. Henceforth England and English have ceased to exist, and I have the great privilege of saying these words for the last time, as of NOW it will be a criminal offence to use these words again – they have no meaning.
And, once this broadcast is over, peoples of Trans Manche, you will only communicate in French, peoples of North Sea you will only communicate in Danish, and peoples of Atlantic you will only communicate in Portuguese, not forgetting of course, our friends in Northern Periphery where you will now only communicate in Swedish.
What a day for Europe, our integration is complete, and I would like to pay great thanks to my fellow leaders, Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher, John Major and, you know, not forgetting the illustrious Gordon Brown, all of whom demonstrated great leadership in enabling previous Treaties, and now Theresa May, standing here with me today in her last act as your now ex-Prime Minister. I look forward to working with her in her new position as Secretary General of the United Nations – never was a person more suited to this role.
Congratulations to them, and congratulations to you my subjects for your co-operation and participation as you adjust to your new way of life. Detailed instructions have been downloaded to all your devices, and following this broadcast programs will run continuously to help you adjust. Common Law no longer exists, Code Napoleon now rules – you are free to do whatever you have been permitted to do.
By my grace you are all now permitted one drink this afternoon, to celebrate and toast your new leaders, and, you know, this wasn’t easy for me - persuading my Council of Ministers to agree to it, so come on, make the most of it.
Then, all males between the ages of 16 and 36 must report to your interreg capital by noon tomorrow for conscription – no exceptions. Please proceed to your nearest high speed rail hub for processing.
Félicitations! Tillykke! Parabéns! Grattis!"
The ring of stars suddenly replaces Blair's visage, an image of a bottle of champagne with cork popping at its centre.
"What are we going to do", John Bull mutters to himself, as he breaks out of his trance, and immediately starts to head home to be with his wife, his desk abandoned, his midday cup of tea going slowly cold - never to be drunk...