Queues, some of them seven or eight cars long are forming at ports across the Isle of Wight as islanders insist they wish to remain British, and port authorities delay departures ‘while they look for a lost thermos flask’, they claim. The tiny island, whose marine and navigational position make it a key strategic possession, has in the past been ruled by the Greeks, the Romans, the Maltese, the Ottoman Empire and the John Lewis Partnership. It was the only British Protectorate to be invaded by the Nazis in World War 2, who remained quietly until 1957 after a Foreign Office mix-up.
Despite reassurances from the British Government that Britain has no intention of selling the Isle of Wight to Zimbabwe, Israel or The Readers’ Digest, tension has mounted among islanders, some of them demanding their own child abuse scandals to rank with those experienced by Jersey, with whom the Isle of Wight has had a long standing rivalry.
‘We demand British citizenship,’ said a placard waving Mrs Jacobs, from Ryde, as delays in and outbound lengthened to twenty minutes, with border guards announcing an inspection of spare tyre pressures. ‘We have our own red telephone boxes and pillar boxes, our police wear traditional helmets (even when working undercover) and many of us still drive on the left.’
But insiders have suggested the unrest on the island is a smokescreen and the real reason for the protests is upset over parking meters in Bembridge, which from next year will not accept the old sixpenny piece. Others blame lack of information. ‘We have only just learnt that Sylvester McCoy is no longer Dr Who on the mainland,’ said one protestor. ‘This is due to a deliberate distancing on the British Government’s part so they can sell us back to Argentina. Not only do we want to be British. We want to be as British as the British, if not more which could even mean the island’s first Nando’s at some point. We’d really like to take a leaf out of Northern Ireland’s book and go for violent sectarianism, but very few of us can get the accent right. We have petitioned the Queen Mother, who always had a special place in her heart for the Isle, but for some reason we have heard nothing back. We can only conclude our mail is being interfered with.’