British nationalism

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The Union Flag of the United Kingdom, adopted in this version in 1801 bearing the England's red cross with white border (England in 1801 included Wales within it), Ireland's Saint Patrick's Saltire with a white border, and Scotland's Saint Andrew's Saltire and blue background. This is a common symbol used by British nationalists.
King Arthur the king of the ancient Britons, depicted as one of the Nine Worthies in tapestry, c. 1385. The legend of King Arthur as a warrior ruler and British hero as depicted by Geoffrey of Monmouth in Historia Regum Britanniae laid the foundation of British nationalism.
Satellite photograph of Britain and Ireland. Originally British nationalism was typically applicable to Britain. British nationalism typically focuses on the unity of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

British nationalism asserts that the British are a nation and promotes the cultural unity of the British,[1][2] in a definition of Britishness that includes people of English, Scottish, Welsh, Ulster Scots and, in some cases, Irish descent, or a descendent from a British dependency or former British colony.[3] British nationalism is closely associated with British unionism, which seeks to uphold the political union that is the United Kingdom, or strengthen the links between the countries of the United Kingdom.[4]

British nationalism's identity of British descends from the ancient Britons who dwelt on the island of Great Britain.[5] British nationalism grew to include people outside of Great Britain, on the island of Ireland, because of the 1542 Crown of Ireland Act, which declared that the crown of Ireland was to be held by the ruling monarch of England. Also there were Anglo-Irish calls for unity with Britain.[6] However with the Protestant Reformation a schism arose in the British Isles between Catholics and Protestants that was especially strong in Ireland, that led to civil unrest and demands for Irish independence from Britain, the largely Catholic Southern Ireland was granted independence by the British government, while the largely Protestant Northern Ireland remained within the United Kingdom.[citation needed][dubious ]

It is characterised as a "powerful but ambivalent force in British politics".[7] In its moderate form, British nationalism has been a civic nationalism, emphasizing both cohesion and diversity of the people of the United Kingdom, its dependencies, and its former colonies.[8] Recently however, nativist nationalism and extremist nationalism has arisen based on fear of Britain being swamped by immigrants; this anti-immigrant nativist nationalism has been present in the British National Party and other extreme nativist nationalist and neo-Nazi movements.[8] Politicians, such as British Prime Minister David Cameron of the Conservative Party and his direct predecessor Gordon Brown of the Labour Party, have sought to promote British nationalism as a progressive cause.[9][10]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Motyl 2001, pp. 62-63.
  2. ^ Guntram H. Herb, David H. Kaplan. Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview: A Global Historical Overview. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, 2008.
  3. ^ Motyl 2001, pp. 62-64.
  4. ^ Miller 2005, p. 133.
  5. ^ Guntram H. Herb, David H. Kaplan. Nations and Nationalism: A Global Historical Overview: A Global Historical Overview. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, 2008.
  6. ^ Brendan Bradshaw, Peter Roberts. British Consciousness and Identity: The Making of Britain, 1533-1707. P. 302.
  7. ^ Smith, Smith & White 1988, p. 61.
  8. ^ a b Motyl 2001, pp. 64.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Conservative Party leader David Cameron advocates liberal or civic British nationalism: "Being British is one of the most successful examples of inclusive civic nationalism in the world." Official party site (26 September 2006)


  • Miller, William Lockley (2005), Anglo-Scottish Relations from 1900 to Devolution and Beyond, Proceedings of the British Academy (Oxford University Press) 128, ISBN 978-0-19-726331-0 
  • Motyl, Alexander J. (2001). Encyclopedia of Nationalism, Volume II. Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-227230-7. 
  • Smith, Michael; Smith, Steve; White, Brian (1988), British foreign policy: tradition, change, and transformation, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-04-327081-3 

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