An Inimican Visit
It has been prepared long in advance and the Prime Minister was not prepared to lose out on a meeting with an ally, or at least a former ally, as a result of the current situation. He knew that the meeting would likely to be hijacked by the issue in Prussia but it was hoped that this would not happen completely. Inimicus had issued trade sanctions and the Prime Minister hoped some lucrative contracts for Inimican business might help to ease the situation.
The Inimican Place was on approach to land at London Heathrow Airport. The Prime Minister was waiting with his foreign secretary in order to meet them.
"This'll be interesting."
"Remember, we're not here just to talk about the ships. A joint meeting in Corelia or somewhere neutral will deal with that. We're here to get those relations going again."
"And get our monies."
"And get our monies, Sarah...", Prime Minister Speller said. This was her first time travelling to a nation on an official state visit, and she was glad to have one of Inimicus's most hardened political veterans with her. Minister for Foreign Affairs Sarah Gladwell had also been invited by the Davishirians, and although she was reluctant at first - she suspected a Davishirian plot to kidnap her and the PM - she had agreed to accompany Speller.
The plane's wheels shrieked as they hit the tarmac. In a skilful display of flight mastery, the pilot moved the plane across the taxiways, towards the gate, where the two delegations would meet. When the iron bird came to a halt and the doors opened, Gladwell nodded at her colleague, reassuring her everything would be okay, and pushed her in front of herself out of the plane. They saw two familiar faces waiting for them.
The Prime Minister smiled, it was an awkward situation considering the situation,
He smiled warmly and gave a handshake,
"Welcome to Davishire, I hope you enjoy the next day or so"
The group got into the car, they drove straight to 10 Downing street for a meeting prior to a luncheon with His Majesty.
The delegation posed for photographs in front of the famous Number 10 door before going inside and climbing up 3 flights of stairs to the meeting room.
"I do apologise, the lifts are broken"
they entered the Prime Ministers private office where there was tea and biscuits or water available
"So, Prime Minister, lets start"
Prime Minister Speller dipped her biscuit into her tea and took a bite. "Yes, Prime Minister", she said before swallowing, "I think you are just as keen as me and my colleague from the Foreign Affairs Ministry to get the good relations our countries once had going again. You have obviously heard our objections to your actions in Prussia. Our European Councillor has told us some of the things discussed in the Council's private session, not long ago, and you will understand we simply cannot support you or your conduct in this matter. Your actions were unjustified and unrightful, and--"
"They were, but...", Minister Gladwell interjected, looking at her colleauge as if she was trying to give her a signal that this meeting was not about putting the blame on Davishire, "We desperately want relations between our countries to improve again. We are not here to continue the debate our Councillors already had. So I would like to know what you, Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary, would be prepared to do to ensure our countries' friendship is renewed."
Looking at her superior, Minister Gladwell saw a hint of gratitude in her eyes.
The Prime Minister ignored the harsh words of is Inimican counterpart, he too felt that it was important to begin the process of moving on,
"Well, I can say that there is movement on the diplomatic front in regards to Prussia, however it is likely that our forces will remain in the country for at least the next 1 to 2 weeks perhaps more. Now one of the key elements in increasing trade between our two nations."
The Prime Minister picked up a chocolate bourbon biscuit, dunked it in his white with 2.5 sugars tea. Part of the biscuit fell off into the tea
The Foreign Secretary continued,
"you see, at the moment trade between our two nations cannot even happen because of the sanctions that you have issued against us. We do for example have some great oil drilling contracts and other contracts of the like available and we would like to see Inimican companies gain these contracts.
There is also going to be a complete overhaul of some elements of the Davishirian military and we would like to see Inimican shipyards and aircraft manufacturers working with Davishirian companies to make that happen."
By this point the Prime Minister had managed to scoop the small piece of biscuit out of his cup of tea, he put the really soggy bit into his mouth and ate it whilst the Foreign Secretary was talking. Once he had finished eating the entire biscuit, a process which took a matter of moments he continued,
"We also want to complete the payments to your government for our previous A400m aircraft, however the current situation means that we are unable to do so. What will your government do to help that change?"
"When it was up to us, payments for these aircraft would have continued as normal. However, it was your government - and I am not trying to put the blame on anyone - which stopped the payments. We have always been open to payment", the Inimician Prime Minister countered. Her colleague continued: "You have to forgive me for interjecting, but certain things have to be taken into account when discussing this topic. What my colleague says is true, although we would like to see our naval vessels out of the area as much as you do. We cannot do this, however, until Davishire pulls out of Prussia. Then we can both send our boys and girls home. You will, however, understand that Our Majesty will be more reluctant in making arms deals with Davishire, as much as we, His Ministers, would like him to.
"We will also end the sanctions we have issued against your nation whenever your government ends the aggressive course we have seen these past weeks. You must understand that we will have to consult with the other nations who have signed the agreement to sanction your nation before ending them, however. I think we would have to be reluctant in allowing Inimician companies the right to settle in Davishire to help with your arms manufacturing, we do not want to risk a situation similar to the A400Ms."
The Prime Ministers mobile phone rang
"Sorry, It is the Secretary of State for Defence, I must take this. Apologies"
The PM rushed outside, but the Foreign Secretary continued,
"Well, I can say that Davishire didn't want to end payments to you for those aircraft, which have proved most useful. If anything, we want to spend more money on more new transport aircraft. However the current sanctions issued by yourself mean that we cannot do either Prime Minister."
At this point the Prime Minister returned,
"I think that this will be of an interest to you. At the exact same time as this meeting the defence ministers from Davishire and Os Corelia have met and agreed to provide Os Corelian peacekeepers with a full Davishirian withdraw by the 1st March. It looks like then, your ships will soon be gone, as will the sanctions and then we can start discussions on restarting payments for those lovely A400s and also possibility of further trade"
"I would like to tell you that you stopped your payments BEFORE we issued any economic sanctions, Mr Secretary, so you cannot in any way blame US for the actions YOU took." Even Minister Gladwell was getting fairly fed up with the Davishirian government's replies. She finished her slightly too hot tea in one gulp and continued: "We will not sell any new transport aircraft to Davishire unless payments are delivered in one batch before any planes are supplied. We are not going to take the risk of you simply saying: 'Oh, let's not keep to any agreement we've made, let's throw away all our principles and just stop paying!'. Does it work like that in the real world, Prime Minister? Can citizens simply stop paying taxes for a month without any consequences?"
The Prime Minister interjected: "It does not. And forgive me for saying this, but it doesn't seem like you're being very constructive. Even though I'm happy about Os Corelia sending peacekeepers into Prussia, unless you are willing to make concessions I cannot see this meeting succeeding."
The Prime Minister looked slightly rattled, he looked at his watch
"Oh, look at the time, you need to go to Sandford Palace to meet His Majesty the King. We can finish this discussion after you have had lunch with His Majesty. All part of the state visit"
The group left through the very same staircase in which they entered, and got back into the same land rover before heading out of the gate toward Sandford Palace. The Prime Minister had waved the Inimican party off. However the vehicles did not turn toward Sandford Palace, instead they entered into Horseguards, the ceremonial entrance to the Palace. The vehicles stopped inside the courtyard.
There was a major stood there, he gave his very best salute,
"Prime Minister, Minister, His Majesty has requested a full ceremonial arrival for his special guests"
The Inimicans entered the carriage and once they were comfortable the carriage was driven down the Mall, a long straight road. There were people cheering either side, police officers and soldiers were dressed ceremonially and stood at attention. The flag poles running the length of the street where alternating between Davishirian and Inimican flags.
The carriage entered the grounds of Sandford Palace and went inside the quadrangle where the band of His Majesties Footguards were playing the Davishirian and Inimican national anthems.The specially designed piece of music ended the moment that the carriage carrying the special guests stopped next to His Majesty.
The door opened and the Inimicans stepped out,
"Welcome to Davishire, or more specifically to Sandford Palace. Now after your meeting with my, well the nations government, please come in"
His Majesty led them through the entrance into the main drawing room, please sit down, can my aides get you a drink prior to luncheon?"
"And I thought Inimicus was a traditionally-minded country...", Prime Minister Speller said to her colleague as they were unexpectedly placed in a 19th century-looking carriage.
"I kind of like it to be honest", Minister Gladwell replied, "Although I find it highly suspicious we had to leave just as we were asking those stubborn men some intelligent and tough questions."
"Oh well. We'll get a second chance after this luncheon of theirs. I wonder what Hubert's like. I've never really noticed him."
"He's one of those weak and powerless monarchs. Not like Artie."
"Artie's a special case though", the PM said, smirking somewhat. Before the Foreign Minister could reply the carriage came to a halt and the two leaders were met by the unknown monarch, King Hubert. They were probably meant to be overwhelmed by the palace's splendour, but someone who has glanced upon the interior of the Imperial Palace in Telum cannot be impressed by anything else.
"Ah yes, a light, round red wine, perhaps?", Speller proposed to no one in particular. Gladwell nodded. They both knew they shared a lot of traits and tastes, though they were still having to keep up a fa?ade of difference in political opinion to Parliament and the press. Gladwell was unsure whether or not a red wine was a correct beverage to consume before lunch, however. Oh well. She guessed it was going to have to do.
Breaking an awkward silence while the three leaders were waiting for their drinks, Gladwell began: "so, your majesty, we know you're not technically allowed to give politically coloured opinions, but what do you think of the situation your country finds itself in? "
"haha, in all honesty and off the record, I think this country is in a complete mess. I think it is a dam shame that this government won't allow me to exercise my constitutional powers. They threaten to abolish me if ever I do"
The king took a sip of his lemonade, he had never touched a drop of alcohol for years but he didn't look down upon anyone else for doing so
"See technically, I have the power to hold what is my government to account ,I do technically have the power to get rid of them all or to appoint a new PM. But the last time that happened, a civil war took place.
What is it like for your emperor, very different I hear"
"Oh yes, definitely", Speller spoke, glad the King proved not to be the sissy she had expected him to be, "His Imperial Highness would advise you to use the powers you've been given by Constitution to strike down your weak government and act in the national interest. Emperor Artabanos has Constitutional absolute power: in the newest document it says He is responsible for Imperial Decrees, and these can be used to overrule both Cabinet and Parliamentary decisions. It does also say, however, that these Decrees have to be in line with Inimician laws and the Constitution. In His most recent reforms, Emperor Artabanos increased the powers of Parliament and the monarch at the cost of those of the Cabinet, which had behaved criminally in his and my view. As Prime Minister, I chair a four-member Cabinet: Prime Minister, Internal Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and Defence & Nuclear Development."
To make the Emperor seem like a bit less of a 'tyrant', Gladwell added: "However, when the Kings of Telum in days long gone, who adopted the same system, became too powerful and, as the Greeks would put it, got too much 'hubris', the people have always risen up to them. In 1402, an infamous King called Tarquinius Superbus managed to destroy the Teluminan army and had a band of marauders threaten the capital. When they were eventually beaten, the nobles revolted against the King and, supported by the commoners, overthrew and executed him. This was the founding of the Inimician Parliament, which still stands strong today. Similar things happened in 1467, 1801, and of course, the glorious revolution of 2011 - which was aimed against a presidency, but still.
"Moreover, the Emperorship is not obtained through inheritance, but by popular vote, so rest assured, our country isn't some sort of tyrannical dictatorship! But we're in Davishire, after all, please tell me more about the system of government and your influence in Davishirian politics."
"See, that is my problem, the royal family here is hereditary rather than elected. Whether that is good or not I will leave that to everyone else to decide however it means that in reality, I cannot exercise my power.
It would for example not look great, if I removed a Prime Minister who had a democratically elected majority in the house of commons. I really am envious of your emperors position, I really am.
I wouldn't have put up with any of this Prussia malarky, it is all something which in my honest opinion shouldn't have happened. and as your nation has shown, not everybody agreed with."
"But surely your Constitution was established democratically? And if not, there's been no cry to amend it so you are stripped of your powers", Prime Minister Speller said. Minister Gladwell could see where this was going, but she kept silent, allowing the PM to continue, "I would, if I may be so rude, use the power you have been given. I'm sure neither your government nor the Davishirian people would want a civil war, not after everything that's happened these last weeks, months and years."
"Moreover", Gladwell said when she noticed Speller had finished, "your actions could easily and effectively deal with a government that's -let's be honest- loathed throughout the Union. You could improve your nation's popularity and standing with other nations -iincluding Inimicus- whilst also improving your internal affairs."
"It is amazing, yet sad all at once to see consecutive governments fail. You can only trust me on this because a mysterious fire in 2011 burned all of the electoral records however prior to joining the EU we often had government for a full 4 to 5 year term that were popular, it is very much David Cameron and even the civil service advisor who are the problem here"
At this point the meals arrived, a selection of cooked meats, cheeses and breadin a buffet style with platters laid accross the table. His Majesty favoured the sausage. There was also plenty of drink including wine, tea, lemonade and coffee.
"Anyhow, it would look very negative, a hereditary king removing a democratically elected Prime Minister"
"Nothing can look worse than your current government, your maj", Speller said, slightly rudely as she was still chewing on a piece of cheese, "I would in all humility consider it. If Davishirian law gives you this power, I suggest you employ it. But then again, I am not the one who should really be telling you this. After all, I am but a foreign dignitary, and do not know the specifics of your country."
"However", Gladwell interjected, seemingly smelling a great opportunity, "Should the Conservatives be thrown out of government, I think Inimicus would be.... more inclined.... to make deals with Davishire in the future. Think about it, Your Maj, we could become real allies again. More A400Ms, more of that fancy Inimician technology, trade deals, import tariff restrictions, everything will be open to discussion. We just.... don't like Cameron or any of his chums."
The Inimician delegation stared intently at the Davishirian King, who seemed a tad flabbergasted. "That's a good wine, isn't it?", Speller said to break the silence, but in vain.
"See, I could replace the Prime Minister, or indeed dissolve the government however... hummm... interesting"
The King was having deep thoughts, he ate a piece of cheese, it was weird because he didn't really like cheese. Nonetheless he drank some of his lemonade and continued,
"moving on, I have been thinking about the current situation between Davishire and Inimicus in terms of trade. Is the situation in Prussia, which is thankfully going to be over soon, the only barrier to further trade between Davishire and Inimicus. What steps do you feel need to take place in order to improve trade?"
"First and foremost, we want the entire remaining amount of A400M money in one big stash immediately. We also want a complete, total guarantee by the Davishirian government that any possible payments made to Inimicus will be delivered according to schedule, whatever may happen or whatever situation may arise. If - or rather, when - sanctions are lifted, any arms payments made to Inimicus will have to be delivered in one sum, none of these long-term payment plans which the Davishirian government seems to be completely unable to abide by. Just imagine, Your Maj, that we as Inimician guests enjoy your food and drink all day, not to mention your hospitality, then suddenly we say: "Oh I hope you're not expecting us to pay for this food, because I'm going to eat it and then decide not to." Would you be happy with that? Of course not. Neither were we happy to hear about your goverment's blunt refusal to abide by the jointly-agreed terms.
"The argument your government uses to defend its position, 'We can't pay because you've imposed sanctions on us' is completely irrelevant and, frankly, insulting. Davishire stopped paying LONG before we even dreamt of sanctions.", Speller ended her rant. Suddenly, she came to realise how much she was like her father: he could get incredibly angry when injustice was done to him or his people, a quality her daughter seemed to have inherited. He was no longer on this world, though - or at least, that's what everyone was supposed to believe - and she had to do without him for the remainder of her life. She looked at Gladwell, and saw in her eyes she approved of what she had said.
"well, whilst I have no power over the budget I see what you are saying , however I doubt that the government would be prepared to pay the whole bill immedietley considering that it amounts to many billions.
My government suspected that this would come up in conversation so have provided me with a brief, one second"
Hubert read the brief document, he spoke to himself "this is interesting"
He put the document down,
"My government says it is prepared to restart payments, and provide back payments once Inimican ships have moved away from Davishire. I see, now I think that it is best to discuss that with my government, who you are meeting shortly but I will certainly use any influence to speed up the process"
At this point the clock chimed, and an aide entered the room.
"Your Majesty, Prime Minister, Your car is waiting to take you to downing street"
King Hubert spoke,
"It has been most great to meet you both, I hope that the political situation is soon resolved and our nations may get back together and become allies properly again"
At this point the group said there good byes and the aide escorted the Inimicans to their car, in which they travelled alone to Downing street. They had a couple of minutes free to talk just eachother...
"What a remarkable man", Minister Gladwell said to no one in particular, thinking oud loud, as she did so often, "I wonder what Artie'll think of him. He definitely needs to meet him some time, at least he's more reasonable than the nutters we're returning to right now."
Speller said nothing initially, although she seemed to be sunk in deep thought. "If only he can get this government to fall. That'd be better for everyone", she said after a few moments of silence, "I mean, we're not going to be doing any deals whatsoever, neither civil nor military ones, as long as any of these fools are in government. You don't just cancel a deal you've made or annul a treaty you've signed; even by Davishirian standards, it's outrageous."
"We need that money, for sure. And we're not leaving without confirmation of payment", Gladwell insisted. Speller nodded approvingly as the car pulled into Downing Street.