Post by rivers10 on Jun 19, 2020 16:51:05 GMT
I recently saw a little Youtube video that brought to light this often overlooked episode in recent British Political History. Having looked into this more it turns out (to my astonishment) that there was a very real possibility that Malta (which was then a British colony) would join the UK proper as the fifth constituent nation. A brief bit of context, Maltese nationalism had taken a bit of a hit (for various reasons) and the people of Malta had in response elected a government on a platform of integration into the UK. Malta later held a referendum in 1956 in which 77% of Maltese citizens voted to integrate with the UK. This was welcomed by the then UK government (primarily for Malta's strategic value as a military base) and talks with the Maltese administration and the British government commenced in earnest. Polling even showed that an overwhelming majority of the British people supported the move. Malta was to have three members of Parliament (probably 5 today) regional autonomy similar to NI but control over foreign policy, defence and the economy would be transferred from the Colonial Office to the relevant Whitehall Departments with the aim of tax and legal equalisation by 1960.
So what happened? Why don't we live in the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Malta? Suez is what happened after which Malta's strategic military value to the British was much diminished and international focus loomed large over British Foreign Policy particularly within the Mediterranean. So the British gov (now led by MacMillan) just sort of lost interest in the idea and the whole thing just fell by the wayside. This in turn led to a resurgence in Nationalist Politics in Malta with them achieving Independence in 1964.
So back to the question of what if? How would British Politics have been effected by throwing Malta into the mix? Would it anchor us closer to Europe and perhaps even swayed the vote in an EU referendum which it would now be able to participate in? Or would the nearby presence of North Africa make Britain a frontline for the refugee crisis (as Malta has already become) and hardened anti immigration attitudes further? How would the Maltese MP's behave and who would even win such seats? Would they have their own parallel political system like in NI with totally different parties to the RUK or would we see a Labour MP for Valletta South East and a Tory MP for Mosta and Paceville?
How would it effect the economy, local government, the holiday choices of British tourists or even our global standing? It seems so much could have changed from the admission of this one small country to the UK that so nearly happened. Or maybe little would change? There is sovereign British territory in the Med already after all (Gibraltar) perhaps the affairs of this tiny island would be of no concern the British people and we just carried on as normal?
I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts