The British Spring was a series of mass-protests, civil unrest, and violent upheaval which occurred in Britain throughout 2013 and 2014. Protests against Scottish King Joseph III's refusal to ratify Scotland's entry into the Britannic Commonwealth as an observer state grew violent after brutal police repression. After several months of increasingly violent protests, small-scale insurgencies emerged, escalating the conflict to the brink of civil war. French military intervention and occupation of the Border Counties only exacerbated the conflict, and ultimately led to the landing of an Indian expeditionary force in Edinburgh in early 2014. With two superpowers involved, the FN feared further escalation, and imposed a ceasefire late March. In July 2014, the Birmingham Accords were signed, officially ending the conflict, and replacing the Kingdom of Scotland with three entities: the Kingdom of Britain, the Kingdom of Mann, and the FN-administered Neutral and De-Militarised Zone, including the city of Birmingham. According to FN estimates, hundreds of thousands were displaced by the conflict, and thousands killed either directly or indirectly.
In 1813, the French Empire under Napoleon I invaded the then United Kingdom and, during the Insular Campaign, defeated and conquered the island. After the conquest, Britain was divided into two parts: the southern portion became the French province of Angelterre Francaise, whilst the remainder was reorganised into the Kingdom of Scotland; a French puppet-kingdom under Napoleon's brother Joseph. Throughout the Nineteenth Century there was frequent anti-government unrest in Scotland. Dissatisfaction grew during the Rule of the Colonels (1957-1973),. However, Zenaide II's key role in Brian Blessed's "Queen's Coup" against the regime resulted in a surge in the Bonapartist's popularity. In the so-called "Liberation Period", which lasted from the coup until Zenaide II's death in 2001, there was a steady growth in "Britannism"; an movement supporting greater ties with -and eventual integration into- the Britannic Commonwealth.
The death of the much-loved Queen Zenaide II and the accession of her commensurately unpopular son Joseph III created a growth in the Britannic cause. Political deadlock between the Britannic-backed British People's Party (BPP) and the Bonapartist-backed Scottish Alliance (SA) caused frequent problems during the Noughties.
In 2012, the BPP led by Sean Connery, won the national election on a platform of Commonwealth Integration and economic revitalisation. After almost a year of delicate negotiations with the Commonwealth Council over the status of an observer Scotland, Connery introduced the Britannic Commonwealth Observer Status Acceptance Act (2013) into parliament. After tense negotiations with key cross-benchers of the Scottish National Party and the Plaid Cymru, the bill passed parliament and was sent to Holyroodhouse for Royal Assent.
After three weeks, Joseph III announced in a national press release that he would not grant assent to the bill. Connery, outraged that the king would announce his decision without first conferring with the government, issued a statement in which he denounced the king's actions as "...contrary to all the protocols of democracy..." and "...a return to the dark days of authoritarian rule."
Almost as soon as the king's announcement was released, a massive protest materialised in front of Holyroodhouse, stretching all the way up the Royal Mile. The protests were supported by the BPP and most trade unions. Demonstrations grew through the course of a week, with large sectors of central Edinburgh shut down by the mass protests.
After seven days of disruption, Joseph III ordered the streets to be cleared of protestors. Riot police used brutal force to fulfill his orders, utilising pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the movement. Two people were killed in the so-called "Bloody Saturday" clashes, and hundreds further injured. Two days later, on the 10th of June, the king made an announcement broadcast throughout the country:
"These past weeks, the peace of our capital has been broken by forces of evil, intent on toppling the Scottish state. The British People's Party's support for these anarchists means that they can no longer enjoy our support. We, Joseph III by the Grace of God King of Scotland, do by this proclamation hereby dissolve the Parliament of Scotland. We do also by this proclamation appoint the Honorable Alistair Darling interim Prime Minister. In addition, we do hereby decree that, pursuant of the Emergency Powers Act (1997), we do hereby take personal control of the administration of the Kingdom."
The Brittanists were enraged by the king's unilateral action, and Connery refused to accept the king's proclamation. Despite the implementation of the Emergency Powers Act (1997), which granted the King-in-Council almost unlimited power, the protests continued. Holyrood Park was barricaded and occupied by protestors, who engaged in frequent and increasingly violent clashes with police.
Spread and Opposition
Although defined to Edinburgh for the first five weeks, the king's proclamation led to massive anti-Bonapartist rallies in other parts of the countries, particularly Yorkshire and Wales, where protests quickly grew violent. Protests were also held in faraway London in support of the Britannics.
The rise of the pro-Commonwealth, anti-Bonapartist movement was not without opposition. Bonapartist rallies were held in Cumbria and in the border counties. Glasgow, Birmingham and the central England region were the site of large protests from both sides, with protestors clashing with each other and police.
The protests continued for two months. During that time, the intensity and size of demonstrations increased steadily. By the end of August, central Glasgow and Birmingham were being described as "war zones" by foreign journalists. Clashes between protestors, and with the police grew in violence.
On the 3rd of September, an armed group calling themselves the "Royal British Militia" (RBM) forced their way into the Perth Municipal Chambers, occupying them. From within the building, the group's leader, a defected officer of the Scottish Army, issued a press release calling on Britons to "shake off the shackles of Bonaparte hegemony," and "look forward to the day when we shall once again build a Jerusalem on this green and pleasant land," making reference William Blake's famous anthem to Britannic nationhood; Jerusalem. Interim Prime Minister Darling responded to the group's actions in a press release, labeling them "terrorists" and a "threat to the fabric of our society". The Imperial Government in Paris listed the RBM as a terrorist organisation, and Premier Depardieu denounced the group's actions "in the strongest possible terms".
The RBM was ejected from the Chambers after two weeks by Scottish Security Forces; the first time the military was used in the conflict. Following the RBM's actions, several other armed groups took part municipal chamber occupations across the country. This was the start of the armed insurgency phase of the Spring.
In the weeks following the municipal chamber occupations, there was a rapid increase in the number of violent armed clashes and the Royal authorities. The RBM's numbers were swelled in early October when a detachment of the Scottish Army under Brigadier Alexander Salmond defected to the rebels' cause. Salmond was appointed the RBM's leader, and under his command, the rebels very quickly escalated their hitherto low-intensity insurgency. During October, the RBM took effective control of swathes of territory in the Scottish Lowlands, setting up a provisional administration in occupied areas.
At about the same time, several other armed rebel groups formed from a combination of civilian dissidents and defected military personnel. By mid-October, the main rebel organisations aside from the RBM were the Yorkshire Liberation Army (YLA) in Northern England, the Royal Highland Volunteers (RHV) in Northern Scotland, and the Bydden Cymru (BC) in Wales. In the early weeks, leadership and organisational structure in the groups were frequently fluid and ambiguous. However, their size made them a genuine threat; one considered very real by the central government.
In response to this growing threat, Scottish Security Forces began armed action against the insurgents. Officially termed an "anti-terrorist action" by the government, it was soon labelled a civil war by international media. In addition to the official response, small "Loyalist" militias were formed by pro-Bonapartist civilians in conjunction with the Security Forces and police. These groups, armed and implicitly sanctioned by the central government, operated independently and in cooperation with the official forces.
By early November, the central government had lost control over large sections of the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands, as well as swathes of Yorkshire and Wales. On the 7th of November, the first shipment of arms was delivered to the RBM in a covert Indian operation. Likewise, the French government sent numerous weapons and supply convoys from Angelterre Francaise to the Scottish Security Forces and to the Loyalist militias.
Buoyed by the influx of Indian arms, the anti-government militias gained momentum. The central government lost control of all Northern England -excepting the Bonapartist storngholds of Cumbria and Berwick- to the YLA and RBM. Fighting between the anti-government militias and Bonapartist forces was especially intense in the central English counties and Western Wales, where thousands of civilians were displaced or killed.
On the 20th of November, with RBM forces nearing Edinburgh, gargantuan protests erupted in the city. Joseph III, the government, and the Military HQ relocated to Cumbria; the remainder of the Royal Family having already been sent to safety in Paris. After a triumphal entrance into Edinburgh, RMB leadership and prominent leaders of the protest movement established the Provisional British Government, re-appointing Connery Prime Minister.
With the fall of Edinburgh to the rebels, and the central government in an increasingly perilous position, the French Emperor Napoleon VII authorised a full-scale land, sea and air invasion of Scotland to prop up the Bonapartist regime. The following day, French armoured columns crossed the border in a four-pronged invasion. Although welcomed by the populace in the the loyalist Border Counties, the French met heavy resistance from the RBM and other groups in rebel-held areas.
Initial reports of the invasion by RBM representatives and international media outlets were strongly denied by French officials, despite strong video and photographic evidence of French tanks and troops in Scottish towns. Two weeks after the invasion, however, the French government changed its tone, acknowledging the presence of French troops and stating that they were in Scotland on the request of the Scottish government.
The French advance stalled significantly after the first week, with the Bydden Cymru and RBM engaging in strong counterattacks using both conventional and guerrilla tactics. However, the large French presence in the South enabled Scottish Security Forces and loyalist militias to stymie the RBM and YLA's advances into Cumbria and South-Western Scotland.
In late November, the French High Command launched Operation Lawn Bowls; an offensive designed to revitalise the French advance. The operation consisted of two concurrent actions: an amphibious invasion of Wales and a large-scale bombing campaign directed at Central English cities. The landings in North-Western Wales took the Bydden Cymru by surprise. The result was as the French military leadership had planned: the rebels redirected troops away from the main front in the South to deal with the new front. As a result, the main body of French forces in the South managed to break through BC lines, advancing to meet up with the landing force after two weeks, effectively winning control of Wales for the Bonapartists Despite losing effective control of most of Wales, the Bydden Cymru continued an intense guerrilla campaign against the occupying French forces for the remainder of the conflict; keeping French troops tied down in Wales and away from more critical fronts in Central England.
The bombing campaign was directed at the strongly contested cities of Birmingham and Nottingham, and the rebel-held strongholds of Manchester and Liverpool. The three-day aerial assault caused massive damage to the targeted cities. In addition to the destruction of military targets, such as RBM artillery positions and barracks, the indiscriminate bombing resulted in civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure on a scale unseen before this point in the conflict. The bombing disrupted the rebels in Birmingham and Nottingham to such an extent that French troops were able to capture the two cities in the week following the bombing. Although weakening positions there, the rebels in Liverpool and Manchester were able to maintain control over the two Britannic strongholds.
Whilst a considerable military success, Operation Lawn Bowls was a disaster for international perception of France's involvement in the conflict. FN Secretary-General Michaelle Jean strongly denounced the bombing of civilians, and called for an immediate end to French involvement in the conflict. Speaking to the FN Chambre des Nations, Indian representative Branwell Sengupta described it as "an act of wonton aggression not befitting one of the world's great powers."
The French advance continued unabated, and by Christmas 2013 French troops had established a line of control stretching from Flint in Northern Wales to the River Humber. Loyalist Scottish militias under Major Nicola Sturgeon were making small but consistent gains against rebels in the Scottish highlands, and a Bonapartist counter-attack from Combria threatened to retake Durham and thus drive a wedge between rebel held areas of Northern England and of Scotland.
Although Connery's Provisional British Government in Edinburgh was able to co-ordinate a unified defence amongst the various rebel organisations, the danger of the situation soon became apparent. In the early days of 2014, special envoys were secretly flown from airfields in the Outer Hebredes to Iceland, and from there to Saint Helena and on to India. The envoys' aims were to negotiate an Indian or Commonwealth intervention on the side of the rebels. On the 7th of January Prime Minister Richard Rajan advised Empress Elizabeth to authorise Operation Morris Dance; a joint-service full-scale intervention on the side of the Britannic rebels. Mobilisation of forces in Saint Helena was complete by the 9th, and the task force was en route to Britain the following day. The force consisted of roughly seven thousand troops, two hundred armoured vehicles, and an aircraft-carrier group
On the 20th of January, Operation Morris Dance began with three simultaneous troop landings in rebel-held areas: in Edinburgh, Inverness, and North Yorkshire. The arrival of Indian troops and equipment was greeted with warmth and excitement by the Provisional British Government, the rebel militias, and the majority of the population in rebel-held areas. The Scottish and French governments denounced the Indian action, accusing them of assisting terrorists and warmongering. Within days of the landings, the Indian forces were fighting in the front lines alongside the rebel militias. This reinvigorated their defences and turned the tide against the French in many areas: In the Northeast-Scottish Front the towns of Buckie, Keith, Duffton, and Huntly fell to the Indian-Britannic forces within a week; and Barnsley, Doncaster, and Scunthorpe were retaken by the 4th of February. In response to these setbacks, the French government directed thousands of reinforcements from mainland Europe to the conflict. French nuclear submarines were reported to be seen surfacing in the mouth of the River Humber, causing hysteria in surrounding areas that a nuclear attack was imminent.
The French reinforcements, whilst stabilising the Southern Front, did nothing to help the Scottish forces in Cumbria. On the 3rd of February, Scottish forces fought a full-scale battle against a combined Indian and Britannic force in and around the town of Brampton. Superior Indian tanks and air support turned the tide of the battle against the Scottish, who were forced to relinquish the town after a seven-hour assault. The battle had the highest number of casualties of any individual battle or skirmish up to that point in the conflict. Control of the remains of Brampton gave the Britannics control over the nearby airport and the main highway to the Scottish headquarters in Carlisle. The defeat in the Battle of Brampton was a massive blow to the Scottish Army, resulting in the loss of much hardware and, critically, in the loss of the airport. News of the defeat led to widespread panic in Cumbria as massive numbers of Bonapartist sympathisers fled their homes in fear of reprisals at the hands of the rebels and the Indians.
The Battle for Carlisle (7th-16th February) which followed effectively destroyed the Scottish Army as a functional organisation capable of real large-scale resistance to the Indians and rebels. It was characterised by street-by-street fighting and massive civilian casualties. Indian tanks and bombers destroyed buildings indiscriminately, and there were widespread claims of Loyalists using civilians as human shields. The loss of the airport in the Battle of Brampton gave the Indians an even greater air advantage, and eventually King Joseph III, his headquarters, and what remained of the Scottish Armed Forces were forced to retreat from Carlisle. Loyalist partisans and sections of the Armed Forces led a violent and at times fanatical rearguard action as the King and the remains of the government and military fled to the coast. The French, intervening too late, were able to ship them to the safety of the Isle of Man. From there, the HQ was able to coordinate the remaining resistance in Southwest Scotland and Southern Cumbria, however by the end of February the entire Cumbria-Dumfries region had been effectively taken by the rebels and Indians.
From the 20th to the 22nd of February French and Indian troops engaged in the first pitched battle between two major powers since the Asia-Pacific War ended in 1949, the Battle of Rotherham. Despite its intensity, the battle was largely inconclusive, with neither side gaining outright control over the town. Large sections of Rotherham were leveled by the fighting, and there were significant casualties on both sides. At least a hundred civilians were killed and many more made homeless.
The FN had held crisis meetings of the Chambre des Nations since the earliest days of the conflict, however no action had been taken against the combatants except for condemning their actions. News of the unprecedented ferocity of the Battle of Rotherham reached Vienna by the 23rd of February. Acutely aware of the dire consequences of direct conflict between two superpowers, FN General Secretary Michaelle Jean called an immediate and extraordinary meeting of the Chambre des Superpuissants to deal with the rapidly deteriorating geopolitical and humanitarian situation.
The Russian and Brazilian delegations, knowing that they would be obliged to assist their respective allies in the event of a full-scale Franco-Indian conflict, immediately tabled a draft for Resolution 2035; ordering an immediate ceasefire, the deployment of a FN peacekeeping force, and the creation of an international arbitration committee. The Indian delegation supported the resolution, as Delhi was convinced that the arbitration process would result in the effective achievement of the Indo-British aims. Whilst supportive of the prospect of a ceasefire, the French government thought that accepting arbitration at that point would certainly result in the creation of a British state, and the loss of French influence over the North of Britain. The French delegation therefore exercised their right to veto.
This left the casting vote in the hands of the Sino-Japanese Empire. Unlike Russia and Brazil, who faced the prospect of war should the British crisis continue to spiral out of control, Sino-Japan had no real motivation to support the resolution. Indeed, some ultra-nationalistic right-wing elements of the Sino-Japanese media called for the government to veto the resolution to "allow the Western pigs to tear each other apart." Whilst a vocal minority in government ranks supported these views, the majority of the Sino-Japanese leadership accepted that a full-scale war between two superpowers would not be beneficial to the empire in the long run. In the end a compromise was met, the government chose to defer making a decision on the resolution for one month, at which point the strategic situation would be re-evaluated and a decisive position taken. This decision caused great consternation in the FN leadership, but apart from some attacks in the press, nothing could be done to change the Sino-Japanese position.
Final Month of the Conflict and Indian Breakthrough
Due to the unprecedented ferocity of the Battle of Rotherham, for about a week afterwards the military leaderships of the Franco-Bonapartist and Indo-British forces were extremely weary of each other, and only a few minor skirmishes took place along the front line. This period of calm was broken on the 1st of March when the Franco-Bonapartist forces launched a lightening counterattack to recapture Manchester. Four days of steady bombardments and airstrikes were followed by a land assault. However, as in Rotherham, even after two weeks of intermittent street fighting, the French could not win outright control over the city, whilst the Indo-British could not entirely force the attackers out.
Skirmishing of various levels of intensity continued all along the front line, and in Wales, for three weeks, with no major changes taking place. On the 18th, however, the Indo-British, taking advantage of the French concentration of forces in Manchester, managed to break through the French lines around Wakefield, and advanced South to relatively little opposition. Sheffield, Nottingham and Derby were all taken by the Indians before the French command could redirect troops away from Manchester to deal with the rapidly deteriorating situation. The rapid Indo-British advance caused panic in the Bonapartist border counties, and it was the 21st before the French army was able to slow their forward momentum.
Sino-Japanese Decision and FN-imposed Ceasefire
During the month after the tabling of draft Resolution 2035, debate continued in the Sino-Japanese government and in the public sphere on the best course of action. Both spheres were split between those who supported vetoing the Resolution and watching the French Bloc and Coalition be dragged into a costly war, and those who supported the Resolution on the grounds that such a war would have devastating effects on the export-driven Sino-Japanese economy.
The unexpected breakthrough of Indo-British forces on the 18th, however, brought a whole new dynamic to the debate. With a Britannic victory seemingly not far away, official government strategists hypothesised that the entire former Kingdom of Scotland would be overrun by the Britannics; with the most extreme projections predicting that the French departments in Angelterre Francaise would also fall to the new British state. This new development was highly worrying to the Sino-Japanese government, as an Indian-backed British state encompassing the entirety of Great Britain would have serious ramifications for the strategic balance of Europe, and, more importantly, would hand significant geopolitical power to Sino-Japan's neighbour, India. The prospect of a substantially more powerful India was greatly distressing to not only the Sino-Japanese government, but the population in general. Sensational news outlets published editorials claiming that such an eventuality would jeopardise the continuing occupation of Tibet, and potentially shatter the fragile peace of the Himalayan border.
It was therefore with the greatest expediency that the Sino-Japanese delegation voted in favour of FN-CS Resolution 2035. On the 22nd of March, both sides of the conflict were ordered to cease conflict, and the FN peacekeeping force, having been mustered in late February, was airlifted in from Ottoman North Africa.
Aftermath, Effects, and Legacy
Both sides were ordered to withdraw three km from the main front line in central England, and a force of 30,000 peacekeepers, mainly from Siam and East Africa, took control of the zone between. A no-fly zone was declared over central England, with the peacekeepers warning to shoot down any military planes flying within it. A significant force was deployed to Wales to ensure an end to the guerrilla warfare there. The FN force was mostly successful in its goal of maintaining peace. Apart from three minor skirmishes and a few minor bombardments, there were no major breaches of the ceasefire.
Over the course of the conflict, hundreds of thousands of people had become displaced, with only meagre food and shelter. The FN peacekeeping force was followed immediately by a large deployment of International Health Organisation (IHO) and FN Commission for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (FNCRI) staff to help cope with the impending humanitarian disaster. Camps for displaced persons were established near regional centres, and mobile medical clinics. Medical staff from the Britannic Commonwealth also volunteered to assist the IHO teams, and millions of dollars in humanitarian assistance was also provided by the Commonwealth and by France. The international humanitarian effort was widely praised for its swiftness and relative success, however thousands still perished from malnutrition and disease.
Arbitration and Birmingham Accords
An FN Special Arbitration Commission was set up in the immediate aftermath of the ceasefire in order to forge a permanent solution to the ethno-political problems which had caused the Spring. The well-respected Saskatchewanite jurist Leslie Rostov-Mcleod was appointed Arbiter-in-Chief, whilst the retired Supreme Court Judge of the Republicca del Congo, Angelo Ibaka and high-ranking Martinian diplomat Petronila Aliaga were Deputy-Arbiters. The three arbiters and their team of lawyers and legal investigators arrived in Britain on the 10th of April, and established their headquarters in the FN-administered city of Birmingham. Representatives from the Scottish government, leading Bonapartise loyalists, representatives of the Provisional British government, and leaders of various opposition groups -including the Britannic militias- were called to Commission to present their case and to assist with creating a solution. It soon became clear that the Britannic cause was supported by the majority of the population in the majority of regions, and that ultimately a Britannic state under the authority of the PBG would be established. However public submissions also showed that some regions were vehemently opposed to the idea of a Britannic state, especially in the border counties, Greater Cumbria, and the Isle of Man. The majority of the Commission's work consisted of working a solution which would not force Bonapartist regions to partake in the British state, especially as that could result in reprisals against them.
By the end of July, the Commission had managed to bring the parties to a compromise, the so-called "three state solution". The pro-Bonapartist border counties were to be incorporated into the French Empire as part of Angelterre Francaise, Cumbria and the Isle of Man were to form a new "Kingdom of Mann" under the old Scottish administration, with Joseph III as king, and the remainder of the island was to form a British state under the PBG. An FN-administered Neutral and De-Militarised Zone (NDMZ) was also established in the border areas, which included the entirety of the city of Birmingham. A plebiscite is planned for 2035 to determine the future of the zone. Free movement of people between the three areas was guaranteed for at least two years in order to facilitate voluntary population transfers to friendlier areas. This agreement, termed the Birmingham Accords, was signed on the 31st of July with immediate effect.
In September 2014 the Kingdom of Britain was formed as the successor to the Provisional British Government. The establishment ceremony in Edinburgh was attended by the new Queen of Britain, Empress Elizabeth of India, and the new resident Vicereine, Princess Anne. The new nation joined the Britannic Commonwealth as a full member on the same day. The Commonwealth governments in October 2014 announced the creation of the British Fund, a multi-billion dollar development package designed to rebuild the areas ravaged by the conflict.
Large numbers of pro-Bonapartists living in British areas have since moved to the Kingdom of Mann, rapidly boosting the population of both the Isle and of Cumbria. The French government has made available to the Manx government an investment package similar in scope to the British Fund in order to rebuild, and also provide new housing and employment for the country's influx of refugees.
In late 2014, a number of small incidents occurred along the Indian-Sino-Japanese border.
As of early 2015, thousands of people remain internally displaced and in FNCRI camps. In January 2015, the World Court announced that it would begin a detailed investigation into claims of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the conflict.