Deputy on the Loose in London!
London, England, UK
49-51 Portland Place, London W1B 1JL
The Deputy Prime Minister took a short drive down the road to the Inimican Embassy in London. He peered down Regent Street and baulked at the immense traffic in the city. London had grown even more since 2011 and the metropolitan area holds more than 22 million people. At midday and rush hour, the traffic problems could be unbearable.
"This is literally a 15 minute drive at best. How is it taking 40 minutes to get there?" grumbled Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. He pulled out a phone and called ahead. "Hello, Baron Harrison? This is the Deputy Prime Minister. Congratulations on your new post here in the United Kingdom. I will be there shortly, but as you probably are aware...the traffic in London can be downright abysmal at midday like this!" There was a short pause.
"Ah, good, well I look forward to our meeting and meeting you on behalf of the United Kingdom," finished the Deputy PM. He hung up the phone and slumped backwards into the seat of the Vauxhall. "Can't you find a way around this or get the police to get us through this any faster?"
"No sir...the Permanent Secretary in the Home Office stated it was their policy to only send a envoy of officers with the Prime Minister," the driver responded.
"Honestly..." the Deputy PM said.
He waited, and waited, and waited some more. Finally after being more than 30 minutes late, he arrived at the Embassy of Inimicus in London.
Baron Rupert Harrison, formerly a senior official in the Inimician prison business, then Chancellor of the Treasury, now ambassador to a possible ally of Inimicus, had been anxiously awaiting the British Deputy Prime Minister's arrival for half an hour now. He was nervous, and it probably showed. Not only because he had just arrived in London yesterday, and was already having to speak with the second most important official in the UK, but also because he would have to defend policies that were not quite his own. He was a staunch conservative, gloriously reigning under the rules of Inimicus's first two Emperors. With Artabanos's progressive policies he did not want anything to do, though he was here as His Imperial Majesty's emissary, and not his own political group's. He would have to defend renewable energy sources, global warming and social welfare, although he had heard rumours of the Emperor usurping more and more power, something Harrison had done in the past himself.
But he would not dare talk about any of that in this meeting. He did not even want to think back of the times of the great Telum Prison Facility escape, and the catastrophe that had followed for him. No, he was here to start a new thread in the web of Inimician foreign relations. His thinking processes were interrupted by his secretary's announcement: "They're here, Your Grace".
The Deputy Prime Minister had a frustrated complexion on his face when Harrison greeted him. "Welcome to the Inimician Embassy, Your Excellency", Harrison said, trying to hide his nervousness, "If you would, follow me inside."
The politicians were seated in the brand new furniture, and Baron Harrison offered the Deputy PM a drink before saying: "Right, Your Excellency. Let us commence."
"Your Grace, it is quite a pleasant visit on my behalf. I hope your post will be one of friendliness and your experience in the United Kingdom a good one," said the Deputy Prime Minister. He gladly accepted the tea from the ambassador with gracious zeal. "I appreciate the hospitality."
"As you are aware, Britain and Inimicus never once before met, and for two grand nations that is a shame. I know that our government after 2 years of withdrawal from the European Union has come back to the fray and is looking to start new relationships.
"It is my authority, given to me by the Prime Minister as part of these negotiations, to offer as a beginning to our relationship a travel deal that allows persons from Inimicus and Britain to travel to each other without a visa. The Foreign Office needs some modernising and it's just the sort of thing we will be tackling in the future in Parliament. What would you say to that, Baron Harrison?"
Harrison's conservative instincts were tingling, but he knew Artabanos would agree to customs unions and visa abolition, and he was acting in His Name, so he agreed: "I think His Imperial Majesty would find that a most agreeable topic, Your Excellency." He chose his words carefully, explicitly not saying he agreed to it himself. "My government would also like to propose the abolition of import tariffs between our two countries. This will grant us a stable economic basis that, ideally, will be the foundation for a great and glorious friendship."
"We certainly agree to abolish tariffs. Just because the government can be described at the most centre-left and at the least democratic socialist doesn't mean we don't like all free trade. We encourage free trade between our nations. Labour believes in the same market forces as other people do," The Deputy Prime Minister said to his Ambassadorial counterpart.
"I'm glad we got those two things out of the way. Let's move on to security cooperation. I know you are a partner with Halsberg and we do see that relationship as a potential force for good in Europe, and we want to support you both on a case by case basis. What would your government say about that?"
"Yes, well, as you will undoubtedly understand, Inimicus's alignment with its allies is something we would rather not disclose anything about to other governments. However, it is evident we are strong allies with Halsberg, as you say, and His Imperial Majesty would welcome your support, I'm sure. The current ongoing situation in the Teutonic State - which, if I'm honest with you, I don't fully grasp - is not something my Emperor would want to interfere in, however I'm sure occasions for our cooperation to materialise will arise sooner rather than later.
"Inimicus is a prime exporter of weaponry and military vehicles. From what I've read about your country you are doing a fine job at this yourself, but I would like to enquire whether or not your government would be interested in an arms deal."
"Britain is exceptionally gifted with weapons logistics systems, which is key to making your weaponry the most advanced it can be. We would be delighted in not only an arms deal but encouraging research and development together to create better, more efficient weaponry that will keep our nations and Europe safe," the PM said.
The Foreign Secretary felt a bit uneasy about the discussion, remembering the coalition with the Greens. While the Lib Dems and Labour could govern a majority by themselves in the coalition, the Green Party were essential on key elements of policy and needed their support. He was not sure that the Greens would go for this in the Commons.
"The United Kingdom understands your reservations, and we would simply like to work together in a non-binding but still mutually aligned format. We also are concerned about the Teutonic nation dealings and the amount of sudden and sharp changes. It seems a mess to us, but seeing as it is not that far of a trip by plane or ship from the United Kingdom, I can't help but comment at the very most on the situation.
"Doing nothing would be irresponsible to me, and the Davishirian involvement in yet another conflict is troubling."
"It is indeed, that is His Imperial Majesty's government felt the action we undertook against Davishire together with our partner Halsberg completely justified, albeit a tad useless. Emperor Artabanos has also introduced a new Imperial Decree: no more arms or trade deals shall be made with Davishire; you will probably understand the motives behind this, and I hope a similar situation will never occur between our two nations.
"So, what's on the table now? Abolition of visas and import tariffs, and military cooperation between our two nations. So far, I think His Imperial Majesty will be pleased. Just out of curiosity, with which natural resources is the UK blessed? And which ones would you be willing to trade?"
"We have a wealth of options on coal, and we have a particularly large deposit of iron, nickel, natural gas, copper, sodium and potassium. Would you be interested in any of those minerals or energy sources?"
"Sodium and potassium, perhaps. We ourselves have ample natural gas deposits and the other minerals you mention we also either import or have deposits of ourselves. We are interested in exporting fish, lumber, bauxite, uranium, and refined products such as furniture or digital technology."
"Britain has a large, thriving IT sector as it is, particularly focused on analytics and software development, particularly with Amadeus IT Group, CA Inc. and Fiserv. Perhaps we can encourage collaboration on these markets between our nations and lower barriers that prevent competition like tariffs in these sectors. The UK tends to focus on financial services technology, as banking is kind of our thing.
"Despite Britain having a fishing field across from our nation, we do value the varieties of fish in the Mediterranean, so you can probably guess that we will certainly purchase those. Potassium could be done as needed. We also have a large book publishing industry. Perhaps British editions of texts can be imported to Inimicus? We particularly pride ourselves in our music publishing industry."
"Good, good, this is coming along nicely. I know His Imperial Majesty likes his books, so I think he will definitely be interested in what you are proposing."
Harrison did like this. It was a nice change from the old prison director or minister profession, he was now actually achieving something worthwhile for the country he loved, even though that country was now effectively ruled by a benevolent dictator - but that was the goal of the Empire's founding all along.
"Anyway, Your Excellency, are there any other pressing matters on your mind?"
"I do not think so. I look forward to our establishing further relations with Inimicus, as it is an exciting new chapter to our European life," said the Deputy PM. He stood up to shake hands with Ambassador Harrison. "I encourage you to take time and explore London; it's quite an amazing city.
"If you care to explore any other parts of the United Kingdom as well, please let us know and we will handle the travel arrangements, first class train and airfare. Anything else you require as you start your diplomatic mission, please let the Foreign Office know and they will arrange it to be so."