Published: 09:03, 28 November 2020
| Updated: 09:43, 28 November 2020
We've had Brexit, but now the people of Kent are asking for... Swexit.
Disgruntled residents in the county have been so upset by news we will be plunged into Tier 3 restrictions when the national lockdown ends on December 2 that some are piling the blame on one borough and asking to cut loose the people of Swale.
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Swale has the highest infection rate in England, with 529 cases of Covid per 100,000 people, and is joined by the likes of Thanet with 470 and Medway (439) as having very high numbers.
That is in contrast to areas like Tunbridge Wells, where the rate is just 107 cases per 100,000 people, leading many, including a group of MPs, to request tier restrictions to be considered on a borough by borough basis, rather than tarring the whole county with the same brush.
Intended for Prime Minster Boris Johnson, and set up by a Joe Daniel, the petition has only attracted 52 supporters so far - 17,410,690 fewer than the European Referendum.
Creator Joe said: "In light of the news that the entire county of Kent is to be placed in Tier 3 of coronavirus restrictions due to the selfishness of certain areas (Swale!).
"I propose a referendum removing Swale from Kent, imposing a hard border with rigorous checks and giving Swale to a third world backwater where they belong - maybe somewhere like Essex.
"Culturally the area has nothing in common with the rest of Kent and as a result the Garden of England should not be punished due to the actions of the residents of Swale.
"The rest of us need to get back to the pub."
One signatory, Diana Wilson, commented: "Signing away because I need a laugh. We really do love you all in Swale."
It joins a list of people online who have blamed Swale for Kent's Tier 3 restrictions and poked fun at the borough.
Hundreds of people liked a tweet from Lauren Smith on Twitter as she wrote: "I didn’t even know Swale was a place until it ruined my December."
While Ross Woods said: "They were having such a 'Swale' of a time. Now we're all screwed."
One user did defend the borough though, joking: "Don't let's be beastly to Swale. Conyer feel the love tonight?"
Despite blame being poured on places like Swale, Thanet and Medway, and others in the county with high infection rates, leaders from Kent County Council and Medway Council have played down any blame game.
They pointed out that, across all of Kent and Medway, the NHS is under pressure from Covid admissions.
Instead, both asked for individuals to remain safe to help contain the virus.
KCC council leader Roger Gough said: "Please follow rules, keeps yourself and loved ones safe, minimise pressure on the NHS, reduce transmission of the virus so restrictions can be lifted as soon as possible."