Generation Brexit

Who is British? Who is English?

Britain today is considered one of the most diverse nations in the world, one long thought of as embracing the idea that there is more than one mold for who is British and for what defines being British. However, the discourse surrounding multiculturalism and migration during the Brexit campaign presented a narrative that was and is perhaps experiencing a renascence of sorts – a narrative of differentiating between being “British” and being “English”, or of being more of one identity than the other. According to Lord Ashcroft Polls, two thirds of those who described themselves as being more English than British voted to leave, while two thirds of those who described themselves as being more British than English voted to remain. (1)  This narrative of differentiation and of labels presents many pertinent questions surrounding multiculturalism in Britain today. Who can be British? What does this require? Who can be English? What does this require? Can some citizens be both, while others never fully either? Who is to be the judge? How far back does a shared history and identity need to go before one can identity as English? This narrative is relevant to the issues of integration and assimilation. Can one ever be considered fully integrated if they can only be of one label offered in a society? Why strive to be considered integrated when you perhaps are still not perceived as qualifying for a certain identity? Could this narrative present the idea of different classification of citizenship? Overall, this narrative of “British” versus “English” presents many critical questions on identity, integration, and acceptance in Britain today. Does this narrative have the potential to cause further divisions as lines are draw and forced upon people, and inequalities built and formed around these lines? 


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