AN independence movement for California is using February 14 as a launch date for its bid to win secession from the Unites States.

Under the slogan “Happy Divorce Day” the Calexit campaign says: “Valentine’s Day in America sees the most divorces. Perfect time for us.”

It intends to seek a ballot to establish an independence referendum in the Golden State on May 4, 2021 – six months after the next presidential election.

The Yes California movement came to the fore under Barack Obama’s presidency when campaign leader Marcus Ruiz Evans and co-founder Louis Marinelli claimed California was paying $103 billion (£73bn) more in federal taxes than it received in funding.

Evans, who replaced Marinelli following concerns about the latter’s links to Russia, said the group had spent the past months rebuilding the campaign. He added that there was a growing gulf between California’s economy and the rest of the US; then, there was the election of Donald Trump as president.

“Only one year has passed since Donald Trump was sworn into office and yet since then the partisan, sophomoric and antagonistic government in Washington under his control has targeted California time after time,” says the campaign website.

“It is no doubt that this thin-skinned, infantile president does not feel threatened by California – his path to re-election does not involve winning our 55 electoral votes.

“Instead, the President’s personal agenda against California began when our state overwhelmingly voted to elect Hillary Clinton in the past election.

“Donald Trump won the electoral college and that technicality is all that matters, yet his loss of the popular vote (thanks to California) left him without a moral victory over Clinton, and the ability to gloat from the Oval Office.”

That was enough to signal that the “time has come”.

“Trump is not the problem, he is a symptom,” said Evans. “We have said this from the beginning. What kind of people elect a man like that? What kind of people allow that person to run? He would never be a candidate and he would never be elected in California.”

However, the road to independence will be littered with obstacles. They will have to gather hundreds of thousands of signatures to secure the ballot next year to repeal sections of state law recognising the Constitution as the “supreme law of the land”.

To be considered a legal declaration of independence, at least half of all California’s registered voters have to take part in the vote and 55 per cent of them must cast their vote in favour of it.