James Forsyth

The government goes cuckoo

The government goes cuckoo
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The government has, this morning, confirmed The Spectator's cover story: that it is considering supporting Rebecca Harris’s bill to move Britain onto Central European Time. As we argue in the magazine, such a move would be a huge mistake both practically and politically.

Under the new regime, anyone living north of Manchester would have to endure two months of the year when it was dark when they started work at 9am. Any government that supported this move would look like a government of southerners, by southerners for southerners.

The consequences for the Union could be horrendous too. Just imagine what a propaganda gift the new time would be for Alex Salmond. The Scottish First Minister would revel in claiming that children north of the border were being forced to walk to school in the dark so that bankers in Kent can enjoy a glass of wine in their conservatories after work. It would all be grist to his mill that England and Scotland should go their separate ways.

I doubt that even the South would particularly like the new regime when they realised it meant them trying to fall asleep while the sun was shining in summer.

In truth, you can’t move around the time to create more sunlight. You can only redistribute the hours of daylight so we have more of them at one time in the day. Changing a system that works would be profoundly unconservative.