Whether a nat or not suspend belief for a second and imagine Wales and England were both sovereign nations and both leaders were holding a summit with their oldest and closest partners (in or out of Europe).
The Prime Minister of Wales is concerned, they have one of the poorest countries in Europe next to some of the richest regions of Europe, regions complaining like crazy about their housing targets and investment proposals which Wales would give an arm and leg for funding for.
‘It takes 5-6 hours to get from London to Aberystwyth‘ says the PM of Wales ‘ Yet it is shorter than the distance as the crow flies to Leeds which takes around 2 hrs’
‘It is quicker to fly to Albania, no wonder we are poor’
‘Well’, says the new English PM, who has been studying the growth of emerging nations like China and its Belt and Road Action Plan .
‘Why don’t we invest together for mutual benefit, unimpeded trade and financial integration’
‘So for example you could get from London to Aberwyswyth in three hours, opening up large areas to economic development and paying for it with uplift in land values along the route, just as we are now doing in England.’
‘Yes’ says the Welsh PM ‘we have a Wales Spatial Plan showing arrows joining up places that are in reality very hard work to get between – lets do it’.
Six months later a team of experts produce Project Cambria – below. A series of costed and each relatively short interventions adding up to less than £10 billion (with a £5 billion fund for cost overunn/overoptimism bias). The land value uplifts are estimated at over £20 blllion, time savings over £5 billion and uplifts to the economy of wales at over 10% to GDP (£6bn) after 30 years with an NPV to the Economy of England and Wales of around £40 bn, with a BCR of 3.5 the treasury greenlight it- it is excellent value for money (these are all rough estimates ).
At there next summit they sign the deal and the first contracts amongst great fanfare at a signing ceremony in Aberystwyth in the afternoon opening the new Cambria Mountains National Park – the net environmental gain of the plan and laying the foundation Stone at Llaynbrymair Garden City which would act as the Gateway to the national Park from England (by rail) creating a huge boost to Central Wale’s tourist economy.
Oh how the pundit classes had scoffed. Spending billions on creating links through some of the lowest population density areas in western Europe, but they had taken a leaf from chinese books, by creating links through such areas they were now experiencing tiger growth as investors reliased that you could now commute from Aberwystwyth and Cambria to Birmingham in less than an hour and from Cambria to Liverpool and Manchester in less than an hour. The economy of central Wales had been transformed. Lampeter Garden City was promoting itself as the Welsh Vasity City and high tech hub with a target to grow to over 100,000 population and less than 3/4 hr from Cardiff. Universities in Lampeter and Aberwystwyth were swiftly planning whole new colleges now that they were as accessible as Durham or York tied in to the Uk Economy.
This follows a political deal with Welsh Nationalists in the Welsh government so that the new Garden Cities along the route take most of the housing, all children in them learn welsh at primary school and all villages nearby have restricted growth to welsh speakers only.
In an alternative history the English are too stupid to fund it and the Welsh get the money from the Chinese.