British identity on the up in Bassetlaw

More people in Bassetlaw are identifying as British than before the EU referendum, figures suggest.

Thursday, 14th January 2021, 4:45 pm

That’s according to the Office for National Statics Annual Population Survey, which asks a sample of local people how they would describe their national identity.

The survey shows 44 per cent of people in Bassetlaw identified as British in the year to June 2020, up from 36 per cent four years earlier, in the run-up to the EU referendum.

The proportion who described themselves as English stayed broadly the same, at 67 per cent.

More people in Bassetlaw now identify as British

In the survey, people can identify as British, English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh or ‘other’.

Respondents can choose as many options as they think apply to them, so could choose English and British as dual identities.

Professor John Denham, director of the Centre for English Identity and Politics at the University of Southampton, said the relative rise in British identity was in line with other recent surveys.

He said: “It is not clear why this has happened, but one significant factor is likely to be age.

“It has been the case for some time that younger generations have been more likely than older residents to emphasise their British identity.”

He said there was a misconception that English identity had been on the rise in recent years, which was partly driven by Brexit.

He continued: “The myth came about because national identity became politically salient in a way it never had been before.

“Those who emphasised their English identity were much more likely to vote Leave, and those who emphasised Britishness were more likely to vote Remain.”

But he pointed out that other surveys show around eight in 10 people identify as both.

Sunder Katwala, director of the independent think tank British Future, agreed that the trend was partly driven by generational differences in attitudes.

But he added that it could suggest a reversal of a previous surge in English identity after the transfer of political powers to the other UK nations.

He said: “Many people will hold multiple and fluctuating identities depending on events – a lot of people in England will feel very English in June when the Euros come to Wembley, but break out the Union Jack for the Olympics in August."