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Why the British archipelago of Orkney wants to join Norway

Why the British archipelago of Orkney wants to join Norway

Orkneys dream of Scandinavia. The leader of the Scottish archipelago, James Stocken, has tabled a motion in the local council, which will be debated on Tuesday, that says it is time for these islands in the north of England to free themselves from the British crown. Approach Norway.

An archipelago of 67 islands and islets (only sixteen inhabited), yet fifteen kilometers northeast of the Scottish coast (and about 300 off the Norwegian coast). But around 20,000 people who live in this very wild area complain they have been neglected by London and Edinburgh.

Historically Norway

So what better way to change sovereignty than to call on history? “We were part of the Nordic kingdom for longer than we were part of the United Kingdom,” James Stocken recalled on the BBC’s airwaves. The archipelago was controlled by the King of Norway until 1472, when it returned to Scotland along with the Shetland Islands, forming part of his dowry after marrying his daughter to the Scottish king.

“On the street in Orkney, people come up to me and say: When will the dowry be returned? When are we going back to Norway? ” says James Stocken.

Economic opportunity?

According to James Stocken, there is “a tremendous connection and a deep cultural connection”. He believes the British and Scottish governments (struggling to organize an independence referendum) have abandoned Orkney in terms of funding. Moving away from London would, in his view, enable better use of Orkney’s economic assets, particularly tourism and energy.

In addition to the seemingly more complicated “Northern Links” study, the motion tabled in the local council – as a fallback solution – envisions the Isles of Man becoming “Crown Dependencies” such as Guernsey or Jersey. Not part of the United Kingdom but under the sovereignty of the British Crown.

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How is London responding?

London rejected this suggestion. “After all, there is no mechanism for any part of the United Kingdom to become a Crown Dependency or Overseas Territory,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman responded on Monday. “But fundamentally we are strong as the UK and we don’t want to change that,” he added, highlighting the financial support the UK enjoys.