Fifteen years ago, Eddie Izzard made an excellent TV series called ‘Mongrel Nation’ in which he ‘set out to explore just how English the English are’. (OK, that’s the English, and we’re talking about Britain, but bear with me.)
What he showed is that there have always been immigrants, from prehistoric times onward. How many people who pride themselves on being ‘Anglo-Saxons’ know that the Angles and Saxons were immigrants? Add in the ‘Romans’ (who didn’t necessarily come from Rome), the Vikings, and the Normans and you realise that even 1000 years ago we were already pretty mixed. (The Vikings got everywhere, so Scots, Welsh and Irish may have Norse ancestry.)
I could go on – but my point is that in ‘rebranding Britain’ maybe we start talking about the fact the none of us is ‘pure British’. We are all mongrels, and should be proud of it. Let’s celebrate out multiculturalism!
Winchester Cathedral. Built by Norman French immigrants.