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The United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Malta?

Joshuapooleanox

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Dom Mintoff of the Maltese Labour Party proposed Maltese integration into the United Kingdom, in which they would gain three seats in Parliament and roughly have a similar position as Northern Ireland with its own local parties. The referendum to join Britain, while boycotted by some, had 77% in favour of unification with a 59.1%. So... it begs the question, what happens if they were granted seats and were integrated?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1956_Maltese_United_Kingdom_integration_referendum

1. What impact would this have on British politics? Possible outrage amongst British citizens, having three MPs that aren't 'British'.

2. What impact would this have on Maltese politics? Nationalist party isn't going anywhere, so we could see a scramble over the next 20 years for whether they should instead leave.

3. What precedent would this set for other imperial territories? Would other smaller islands in say the Caribbean or otherwise start applying for similar treatment?
 
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Alex Richards

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The third point was a major reason why the mood in Whitehall was against integration.

But lets just handwave that for the moment. Most people in Britain won't particularly care about the Maltese MPs unless you get an instance of them propping up a government, and that's only likely to emerge with 3 MPs in something like the late Callaghan period where it'll probably just be viewed as a 'desperately wooing everyone' thing.

I'd expect the Maltese nationalists to remain a going concern yes, particularly as they're also probably going to be an implicitly Catholic party campaigning against the liberalisations of British politics and attempting to prevent their replication in the planned Maltese parliament- Malta still banned divorce until 2011 for example. You've got parallels to Northern Ireland going on there and I could see the 1973 decriminalisation of homosexuality being delayed. What could make things really interesting in that circumstance is a sort of divide where those more in favour of social reforms push the unionist narrative and identity more strongly may emerge.

As for other territories that might integrate, there's a fair few smaller Caribbean islands that may want to do that- Anguilla, Barbuda and Nevis all expressed concern about independence while being unified with a larger neighbour. There's other oddities as well about the place- Banaba in Kiribati for example- but it's tricky to tell how many would have taken integration and how many just want independence as smaller entities.
 

Gary Oswald

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So as I always say when this comes up, it's worth noting why it failed in the first place.

Which is that Mintoff wanted the British to increase their financial spending in Malta and the British would not. (It's worth noting that Mintoff had proposed in 1949, that Malta should offer themselves as a US base instead of a british one as the Americans had more money.) Malta was never financially independent and this was why independence was delayed as even with british subsidies it was close to bankruptcy in the 1950s. Mintoff hoped that by proposing integration, he could benefit from the british welfare system and the british government would be responsible for all the existing debts. This was dismissed out of hand by the British parliament unless the Maltese also paid full UK taxes which Mintoff said could not be introduced until a point where maltese wages also matched british ones.

Eden's cabinet balked en mass at this 'representation without taxation' and James Stuart threatened to resign if it happened. London offered a ceiling of 5 million a year in terms of british investment and Mintoff refused those terms. This disagreement over the economics of it, in terms of debt and taxation meant the talks broke down. And soon both the UK and Malta openly decided it wouldn't work and moved on to other options.

As Alex says Integration was unpopular in white hall but it was very popular with MPs, you see this from the debates in parliament where people are very flattered and excited about a (white majority) colony that doesn't want to leave and the concerns about the practicalities are ignored until they couldn't be any longer.

The open question I guess is would a Labour Government be less likely to fall out with Mintoff over austerity.
 

Skinny87

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I like the idea of a vignette in a timeline where the Maltese MPs are (somehow) the Labour equivalent of the DUP.

You know, bungs for votes sort of thing, 'Vallenta needs a new spaceport' etc, Corbyn kept in power by the Nefarious Maltese
 

Gary Oswald

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I wonder if the Labour counter-offer might be something like 'you can have the benefits but less political autonomy'.
It's difficult to see anyone accepting Mintoff's original offer of 'we want the UK to write off all our debt, and fund us to the same degree as other UK citizens but we reserve the right to set out own taxes at a considerably lower level than elsewhere'.

That's largely why I tend to be very pessimistic about the chances of this ever happening.

However negotiations largely broke down not because agreement wasn't reached but because Mintoff and Lennox-Boyd pissed each other off so much that neither trusted the other at all and so didn't really want to work together (Mintoff also burned his bridges with Eden by saying the Suez invasion was a stupid idea). It's possible that whoever Labour would picked for secretary of the colonies would have just got on better with Mintoff and so a compromise would have formed simply because there'd have been good will on both sides.

Pushing forward a long term plan of investment to bring benefits and taxes to the same standard as the UK and only then go about integration maybe? Or some other dodge that allows the special circumstances but sets a clear time frame.
 
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