St George’s Day: Drop in number of people identifying as English in Birmingham

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The annual celebration of England’s patron saint - St George’s Day - is upon us. Here’s a look at how many people in Birmingham identify as English

The number of people who identify as English in Birmingham has been revealed.

St George's Day – a celebration of England’s patron saint and the country’s history – is tomorrow (Tuesday, April 23).

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But the latest population survey from the Office for National Statistics, which covers all of last year, shows just 43% of people in England said they identified as English. Respondents can select as many options as they like from British, English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish or ‘other’.

In Birmingham, 25% of people said they identified as English last year – down from 35% in the year to June 2016, before the Brexit referendum. A decade earlier, 36% of people identified as English, while it was 46% in 2004.

Nationally, the number of people identifying as English has broadly fallen over the last decade. Some 52% said they were English in the year to June 2016, while this rose to 54% in 2013. It was as high as 59% in 2004.

An England flag to mark St George's DayAn England flag to mark St George's Day
An England flag to mark St George's Day

Sunder Katwala, director of the British Future think tank, which works to promote diversity and social inclusion, said: "People’s sense of Englishness ebbs and flows. You'll see a lot of England flags in June when the Three Lions are competing in the Euros, and then they'll disappear again.

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"We could do a lot more to celebrate English identity outside of major sporting moments, in an inclusive way – flying the flag with pride and making sure everyone feels invited to the party on St George’s Day. Getting behind a shared English identity could help bring people together."

However, the Centre for English Identity and Politics at the University of Southampton, said the findings should be approached with caution. Its director, Professor John Denham, said many people only select one response, despite having "multiple identities".

More than half of people in Birmingham identify as British

He added the British social attitudes survey suggests there has been an increase in the numbers saying they are equally English and British, but a smaller rise in the numbers saying they are British rather than English. In Birmingham, 68% of respondents said they identified as British – above the national average of 57%.

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