FOR many decades, Cornwall has been the poor relation in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It vies with the west of Wales as being the poorest region of northern Europe, has the UK’s lowest average income and among the UK’s highest domestic overheads. Although its citizens pay the same proportion of their income in taxes as anyone else, Cornwall has been scandalously underfunded by London for far too long. In 2002, it was reliably calculated that the UK Government takes £300 million a year more from Cornwall than it gives back (‘Business Age’ magazine). Cornwall was once a proud independent Celtic kingdom but through historical events which lay outside both democratic and legal process, it has been counted, by London, as part of England since the mid 16th century; its people labelled as “English” and, since 1889, it has been administered as though it were a mere county of England.
Cornwall is much more than that. It is still home to an indigenous people with a 12,000-year history – with the Welsh, the oldest peoples of Britain - and who are genetically distinct from the inhabitants of England. It has an ancient and surviving language whose history can be traced back for 5,000 years. It also has a unique and quite remarkable constitutional status within the UK, which has long been subjected to official and media concealment. It retains, intact, a legal right to govern itself (also, for the most part, concealed from the public eye); and, for some 700 years, it even has a separate Head of State.