In 2026, after the death of his wife, Robert Oliver returns from France to England in search of his estranged daughter. He discovers a Britain plagued by international issues. The aftermath of a war with Iran and recriminations from Middle Eastern states resulting in crippling trade restrictions have led to economic collapse. There is a great deal of internal conflict as a result of huge unemployment, severe reductions in services, and a society divided by ethnic, religious and other special interests, reflecting the needs of each majority at a local level. Behind this experiment in democracy, comes a vicious new policing system, harsh restrictions on people's basic freedoms and a sophisticated network of amateur spies known as 'Harkers'. As he was unable to renew his passport before leaving France, Robert Oliver, now a 'Paperless Vagrant', finds himself hunted by the much-feared 'CLIP' as he travels across a country suffering untold hardships, a country no longer at peace with itself, a country he once loved very much but no longer recognises.