The Great Expansion refers to the extension of Sorrenia's territorial claim to encompass all of Northern England, as well as several conjunctive Northumbrianist policies. The Great Expansion was undertaken by the Minister for Internal Affairs, Richard Brooker, a close friend and political ally of King Ronald I.
At various points in its history, the Sorrenian Federation adopted a policy of expansionism. Upon receiving a claim on Dradelia, Sorrenia greatly expanded the claim to encompass areas including Horden and the Durham Heritage Coast.
Throughout its existence, Sorrenia maintained claims on various exclaves throughout the world; Gran Pais, Erem and Scotton were held as claims throughout the Federation's existence, and a territorial claim on Milinton was briefly asserted.
Sorrenia also sought to maintain and extend its status on the international stage, through the establishment of relations with Zirconic, the Republic of Chico and Hortania (among many others) and informal relations with Lostisland, Mercia and others. The creation of the Levaria Treaty aided this end, and at one point the government of Sorrenia were considering joining the Grand Unified Micronational, although nothing came of this.
Brooker and the King
With the success of monarchist forces in the War of the Sorrenian Succession, and the ascension of King Ronald to the throne, Richard Brooker, head of the Old Monarchists spearheaded an attempt to introduce Northumbrianism - a cultural ideology seeking to redefine Sorrenia as a Northumbrian entity - into the political mainstream.
His personal relationship allowed him to heavily influence the king, who became a strong supporter of Northumbrianism. As a result, the ideology was officially adopted by the New Monarchists, and was quickly adapted by The Republicans and the NDLP.
With this success, Richard began to urge Ronald to greatly expand the Sorrenian territorial declaration far beyond what had ever been claimed. Whereas Sorrenia's claim was at that time 140 km2, Richard's proposed borders would encompass over 28,000 km2. This would make Sorrenia the 13th largest micronation, larger than 54 macronational countries.
The Great Expansion Bill
Initially, a small body of confidants were established, termed the 'Cuthbert Council'. Secrecy was employed, out of fear that the leaking of the plan would result in immediate dismissal of the idea
After the June 2018 election, the Great Expansion Bill was presented to the King's Council by Richard Brooker. Michael Disraeli, Prime Minister worked to secure support from government MPs, while Martin Aquinas canvassed The Republicans for support.
Nonetheless, the Bill was initially met with hostility. Figures in The Republicans were outraged that the Bill had not been part of the New Monarchists manifesto prior to the election, and demanded a new election. Stephen Linacre, the sole NDLP MP also opposed the Bill, as did several members of the New Monarchists. Although Dradelian Revolutionary Front MP Rilgar Ompastre supported the move he voted against the Bill, as part of a 'block-all-bills' policy.
After several days of whipping, the Bill was presented for a vote, and narrowly passed, thanks to support from Martin Aquinas and another Republican MP to accommodate for rebels within the New Monarchists.
Application was left to Richard Brooker, who was tasked with creating the various counties, electoral boundary drawing and convincing Hortanian politicians to join Sorrenia.
Treaty of Hortanian Unity
Brooker began with what was seen as the most difficult aspect of the Great Expansion - convincing Damian Billbrough to join Sorrenia.
Richard met with Damian to discuss potential unity, and somewhat surprisingly Damian was receptive to the proposal, largely due to internal stagnation. After several days of negotiation, the Treaty of Hortanian Unity was signed, guaranteeing devolution on several issues, the creation of the High Duke of Hortania, the extension of Hortania into Normanton and a long-term political alliance between the New Monarchists and the Hortanian National Party.
The success in winning over Hortania was a surprise to many, and increased the popularity of the Great Expansion significantly.
The 'Durham Question'
Richard initially intended to remove several counties with the Durham area, including Bowburn, Sherburn and Ertawa, as well as a long-term plan to revoke Dradelian devolution, integrating it into a larger Durham county.
This plan however was seen as political suicide by members of the Cuthbert Council, who believed that The Republicans would likely rise up if it were enacted. As a result, Richard abandoned the plan, instead maintaining the status quo within Durham.
The 'Teesdale Question'
Due to the syncretic cultural nature of Teesdale therefore, which county it should join was questionable. Ultimately, Richard created a separate Teesside county stretching from Hartlepool in the north to Staithes in the south, and Darlington in the west.
This has resulted in a long-standing movement in the area to redesignate it either as a region of Teesside or as a wholly separate county; thus far however, Richard's border designations have gone unchanged.
Richard was tasked with the creation of new electoral boundaries to cover the new territorial claims. Richard increased the size of the King's Council from 22 seats to 47, more than doubling the body.
Richard generally apportioned seats based on population, although cultural and historic factors were also considered.
By the July 2018 election, several Sorrenian politicians had noticed an imbalance in the electoral boundaries; the historic counties in Durham granted greater influence to small populations, especially in Bowburn, Sherburn and Ertawa.
The population imbalance was even more stark between Newcastle and Hortania. While Newcastle has a population of 870,000 and 9 Members of Parliament, Bradford in Hortania is apportioned just 1 Member of Parliament, despite a population of 350,000. The entire Leeds-Bradford metropolitan area (with a population of 1mn) still has just six Members of Parliament.
As a result, the Hortanian National Party, NDLP and some members of The Republicans asserted that Richard and the government were biased towards North-east England, leading to a movement for electoral reform called Millomism. In retaliation, members of the government reiterated their support for Richard's boundaries, and a Pitmatic faction emerged in The Republicans, seeking to re-emphasise the North-east's cultural importance.
Relation to Northumbrianism
The Great Expansion is now seen as a core element of Northumbrianism, asserting Sorrenia's claim across all of Northumbria. Without the Expansion many argue, Sorrenia would have remained fundamentally a micronation, without a macronational identity.
The passing of the Great Expansion Bill, and the subsequent success of the move helped to further Northumbrianist policies in the King's Council.
The Great Expansion has fundamentally altered Sorrenia and its politics, away from simple micronationalism towards a macronational identity. The Expansion is seen as one of the greatest developments in Sorrenia's history, and subsequently led to major developments in political ideology, cultural policy and Sorrenian identity.