Recently released files from the national archives from 1981 suggest that the government of the time considered a plan to abandon Britain to its fate, leaving it in a state of "managed decline". The secret documents have just been released, following the usual 30 year waiting period.
After the recession of the 1970s, Britain was shaken by riots and high unemployment, and the shock of watching Prince Charles get married. Not only that, but the internet had not yet been invented and there were only three TV channels, leaving many people with nothing to do in the evenings and weekends except talk to each other.
In one document released today, written by under-secretary to the Home Secretary, it says, "Much as the Romans abandoned Britain to the barbarians, perhaps we should contemplate the same decision today. These islands are ungovernable, and I don't think the British government stands much of a chance here - even though it is democratically elected. Britain is in terminal decline and there is no point throwing any more cash at it. Let's invest what little money we have in a waffle factory in Antwerp instead."
Eventually, Thatcher's government were saved by unlikely events. Argentina invaded the Falklands, and for a few weeks British people were gripped by the thrill of watching their armed forces crush a puny enemy. By the end of the summer, the riots were forgotten and Britain was once again the amazing place we all know and love.