An England of the Regions (wonkish)


We have recently posted a couple of times about our vision of a Europe of the Regions. But what might that mean for England? The Wessex Regionalists are concerned with Wessex, and have no official position on how the rest of England should be organised. That doesn’t stop us speculating on some possible scenarios, though. I have marked this post as wonkish, as it contains some data tables. I originally compiled them in Excel, but some of the formatting was lost when I imported them into WordPress, so I apologise if they are a tad hard to read in places.

The most attractive scenario from a historical point of view is a revival of the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy, The boundaries of these seven kingdoms were somewhat fluid, so for the purposes of the table below, I have defined East Anglia as the traditional counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire; Mercia as the current East and West Midlands government office regions plus those parts of Lincolnshire that fall within the Yorkshire & The Humber region; and Northumbria as the North East and North West regions plus the county of Yorkshire.

In the South, I have left the county of Sussex as its own region, but appended Surrey (always somewhat hard to place historically) to the kingdom of Kent. The kingdom of Essex is considerably larger than the county of Essex, and also includes the traditional counties of Middlesex, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. So let’s see what the current area and 2011 census population data looks like for this revived Heptarchy:

RegionPopulationArea (Sq.m.)
East Anglia22567064786
Essex96673503723
Kent57192862370
Sussex16133161466
Mercia1237335412550
Northumbria1281225413341
Wessex800881911058

However, there is a feeling among some party members that the three south-eastern heptarchy regions of Kent, Essex and Sussex no longer reflect current geographical reality. In particular, splitting London into different regions north and south of the Thames, whilst superficially appealing, could have unintended negative consequences. One solution is to combine them into a single region, called Londonia. It’s not a name I am personally fond of, but I have used it for want of a better alternative. I have created a more detailed table for this five-region England that also shows population density and Gross Value Added (GVA) figures from the Office of National Statistics. GVA is defined as Gross Domestic Product plus subsidies, minus indirect taxes. I would have preferred to use GDP, but the only regional breakdown I could find used an erratic system of regions that made it hard to break down into this five-region scheme. For example, Berks, Bucks and Oxon were treated as a single region. I have also, for comparison purposes, added the nearest region in terms of area, population and population density for each of the five regions.

RegionPopulationComparable regionsArea (Sq.mi.)Area (Sq.km.)Comparable regionsPopulation DensityComparable regionsGVA (billions)GVA per capita
East Anglia2256706Saxony-Anhalt478612395Ile-de-France182.06583299718North Sumatra56.5525058.647426825
Londonia16999952Netherlands755919557Tehran Province869.25152119446Kerala535.08431475.618284099
Mercia12373354Bavaria1255032405Catalonia381.83471686468Rio de Janeiro258.54820895.546995584
Northumbria12812254Illinois1334134553North Rhine-Westphalia370.80004630568Massachusetts271.63421201.109500327
Wessex8008819Virginia1105828640Massachusetts279.6375349162Jiangxi212.34526513.896743078

Finally, the historic kingdom of East Anglia, as well as the counties mentioned above, also included the Soke of Peterborough and the Parts of Holland, from Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire respectively, I am not a fan of violating traditional county boundaries, but as the East Anglian region is the smallest of the five by a considerable margin, I have adjusted the East Anglian and Mercian regions to reflect this expanded definition of the former, and to give it something of a population and economic boost. The adjusted GVA for those regions is approximate, as the only GVA figure I could find for Peterborough was for the unitary authority, which is larger than the Soke.

RegionPopulationArea (Sq.m.)GVA (billions)
East Anglia2536208528865.081
Londonia169999527559535.084
Mercia1209385212048250.017
Northumbria1281225413341271.634
Wessex800881911058212.345

Again, I must stress that this post is not an official statement of party policy, and posting these tables does not imply endorsement of any one scheme of regional organisation. In particular, we are aware that there are regionalist movements in Mercia and Northumbria that have their own ideas of where the boundaries of those regions should lie. But hopefully, it will provoke some thought about what should replace the United Kingdom, now that its breakup is looking likelier than it has for a millennium.

Update: at the request of a reader from Sussex Middlesex, I have added a scenario whereby Kent and Essex are combined into Londonia, but Sussex remains a separate region.

RegionPopulationArea (Sq.m.)
East Anglia22567064786
Londonia153866366093
Mercia1237335412550
Northumbria1281225413341
Sussex16133161466
Wessex800881911058

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