Tesco is big. Really big. Nowadays, it doesn’t just run supermarkets, petrol stations and banks. It also runs coffee shops, a gold exchange service, tyre fitters, beauty salons, a record label and even a film studio. It’s the second largest private employer in the United Kingdom and commands a third of the supermarket market. With Tesco enjoying excellent growth, should it make the best of its size and wealth and declare independence from the UK, issuing a referendum to employees just as Scotland plans to? (The answer is yes, otherwise I ain’t got a premise for an article. So yes.)
But would Tesco survive on its own? Easily. In fact, it would thrive as an independent state. The Republic of Tesco could issue joint citizenship to all of its 597,784 employees and become the 169th most populous country in the world, topping Malta, Luxembourg, Samoa, the Isle of Man or the city of Southampton. With its 6,784 stores, it would have a total area of nearly 4km2, larger than the Vatican City or Monaco. And Monaco has United Nations membership, so why not the Republic of Tesco? It would have the 59th largest economy too, bigger than Cyprus, Sudan, Sri Lanka, or Serbia, or the entire Caribbean Community.
Expect the fight between pro-independence and anti-independence campaigners to be fierce. David Cameron will make the case for maintaining the status quo, sending an emissary in the form of Business Secretary Vince Cable. He would lead a team of crack food negotiators: the face of Walker’s crisps, Gary Lineker, the knitted monkey from the PG Tips adverts and Mr Kipling himself. The nascent republic would call on Chairman Philip Clarke, Tesco-album-enthusiast Ellie Goulding and that drunken bloke who buys 150 cans of Strongbow a week from the Tesco Express on Burgess Road. The climactic debate would take place in neutral territory (a Co-op in Basingstoke) and would doubtless see victory for the triumvirate of Clarke, Goulding and Wasted Jeremy. Tesco would declare independence the next day.
I predict that Alex Salmond of the Scottish National Party would fight alongside Tesco, aligning his party (and his country, if Scotland votes for independence) with the newly formed republic. Perhaps a competing United Kingdom of Scotland and Tesco will rise from the disintegrating United Kingdom that we know today? The British Isles will doubtless descend into anarchy as Scotland and Tesco launch border raids into the United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Before long, Wales and Northern Ireland will jump that sinking ship and form their own retail states, uniting with Sainsbury’s and Asda respectively, and sparking the Supermarket Wars. Will England be forced into a one-sided alliance with a militant group of newsagents and off-licenses? Only time, and the bloody ravages of total war will tell.
Until then, Tesco and its employees should ready themselves for battle, sharpening carrots, building baguette-based siege weapons and practising the art of knocking out a machine gun nest with a well-lobbed tub of houmous. They could even construct a device from strawberry laces and discount breadsticks that hurls a frozen pea with enough force to bring down a helicopter. Peas may be tiny and helicopters large, but never forget the infamous battle cry of Tesco: every little helps.