St Georges Day: Patriotic pride on the up in Portsmouth as more people identify as English than before Brexit

PATRIOTIC pride is on the up in Portsmouth with more people seeing themselves as English than before the 2016 EU referendum, according to a national survey.

By Tom Cotterill
Saturday, 23rd April 2022, 2:18 pm
Updated Sunday, 24th April 2022, 10:46 am

The Office for National Statistics’ Annual Population Survey invites a sample of local people to declare their identity.

Participants can select as many options as they like from British, English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish or ‘other.’

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A flag adorns a home for St George's Day See PA Story Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

The latest results come as the area marks St George’s Day – a celebration of England’s patron saint and the country’s history.

In the year to June 2016, in the lead-up to the Brexit referendum, 45 per cent of residents surveyed in Portsmouth said that they identify as English – but this rose to 50 per cent in the year to December 2021.

However, over the same period, the proportion of people identifying as British decreased from 57 per cent to 54 per cent – meaning that despite an increase in people identifying as English, British has remained the most popular answer in Portsmouth.

It was a different story across England as a whole, where English identity has been on the decline.

Some 44 per cent of people identified as English in the year to December 2021, down from 52 per cent in the year to June 2016. The proportion of people identifying as British has increased over the same period – rising from 49 per cent to 59 per cent across the country.

Sunder Katwala, director of the think tank British Future, said: ‘Most people in England have two flags and two identities, English and British. The strength of feeling for them ebbs and flows according to events – we will see a lot of Union Jacks during the Jubilee celebrations, but it will be the England flag flying for the World Cup in November.

‘How you ask the question also affects the result. While seven in ten said they were English in the last census, that will flip this time round as “British” now comes first on the tick-box list.’

John Denham, director of the Centre for English Identity and Politics at the University of Southampton, said the findings should be approached with caution.

He said: ‘There has been some movement towards identifying as more British than English - probably mainly due to demographic change.

‘Young people are more likely to more likely to identify as British than older generations.’