We are already splitting up
Whatever the conservatives may say (that is, conservatives with a small C, which means all people who dislike change, right across the political spectrum), the breakup of the United Kingdom as we presently know it is coming. It may happen soon, or it may still take years, but the trend is for the historically distinctive parts of the British Isles to find their own voice and assert their own independence from England, the top dog.
Even if a series of small and independent political entities is not actually formed, and we all adopt a federal set-up, the notion that Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland are historically distinct countries with a particular outlook of their own - very different places from England - is a notion now firmly implanted. It's bound to grow more intense. It certainly won't go away. The days of being overshadowed by England are over. It's not a 'one island nation' any more. Really, it hasn't been 'one island' since the first stirrings of modern nationalism created the Republic of Ireland. And think of how that flowering of nationhood came to be, and what stirred it into life in the first place.
At the very least, Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland will be looking for a huge increase in autonomy, well beyond what they have now, even if matters - such as defence - are best dealt with at a higher level, in the hands perhaps of a joint overarching Council - the British Isles Strategic Authority, to coin a name and a concept. I dare say the Republic of Ireland would take a view on that, being geographically part of the British Isles, although precisely what view I cannot say. Logically of course the Republic ought to have representation on such a council.
So far as England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are concerned, all this means that the 'United Kingdom' will be no more.
So what name for England now?
We can afford to be jocular. Its the British way. I saw a TV programme about the composer Elgar the other day. And it struck me that once England is minus Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland, and cannot be the 'United Kingdom' any longer, why not call it the Land of Hope and Glory? The particular piece that was made into a song of this name (with lyrics by A.C. Benson) comes from Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No 1, and it seems to conjure up everything that is traditionally and nostalgically English. It is a gentle, reflective piece, and not bombast like Rule Britannia. Although if ever there were two songs set to music that will stir English people to flag-waving and tears of pride, it is those two songs - as any Last Night at the Proms performance will demonstrate. Either would be a great choice as the English National Anthem. I would for preference go for Land of Hope and Glory, except at sea, or when having a bath or shower, when Rule Britannia would seem better. I don't care that both songs might to some smack of empire and imperialism. Those days are long over. The British Empire has gone. The United Kingdom is going. But we still have the freedom of the seas, and we still have the magic of clearing skies over Shropshire, or that sweeping view from ancient Cotswold heights across the Severn Valley, with the stalwart Malverns on the far horizon. The views that epitomise the Heart of England.
And the flag?
Scotland and Wales already have their own well-known national flags, and Northern Ireland has emblems that could be the basis of a really good national flag. England has the red cross of St George. But I don't see why England shouldn't keep the Union Jack - the Union Flag to pedants - which has evolved over the centuries, and records the country's history. Why change it?
Many countries and states and provinces around the world retain historical elements in their flags, to show their heritage. The Hawaiian flag has a Union Jack in it. So do the flags of British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario in Canada. But the flag of Quebec features French fleurs-de-lis. The Maryland flag is an heraldic design based on the coat of arms of the Calvert family when the state was first colonised. And so on. Why shouldn't the flag of England itself show that it was once joined to three other great nations, none of whom will want to use the same flag?
Well, that's sorted. Carry on.