The UK identity is a complex matter these days. Some people want to be Scottish to the exclusion of their UK identity. Northern Ireland has long been divided into a majority proud to belong to the Union, and a minority wishing to join the Republic of Ireland. Many people are happy to be both UK and English, or UK and Welsh and see no conflict.
Yesterday I was speaking to a school sixth form on their chosen topic of British values. At the start I asked them to tell me how they felt about their identity. I asked them to say how they would answer a foreigner who did not know local UK geography where they came from? How did they feel about their own identity?
I offered them four choices. They could say they were European from the EU, British from the UK, British from Great Britain, or English from England. Just four opted for European, and just three opted for British from GB. The large majority opted fairly evenly for UK or England. It demonstrated that English identity is becoming much more prominent and popular. It was inconsistent with those who say young people see themselves as European. I have had similar results over a choice between European and British elsewhere with student audiences.
I find when out and about campaigning there is a growing awareness of the high costs of staying in the EU. We are gradually getting over the point that they spend £10 billion of more money that we could better use at home. We are not yet getting over the equally important point, that we will be able to afford to pay all the monies currently paid to UK people and institutions by the EU on top of the £10bn bonus, as all the money we get back we are sending to Brussels first. Please tell all famers, university people and others you meet the UK can pay every penny to them that the EU pays, because it all comes from us in the first place. As far as the UK is concerned, Brussels has no money. Every penny we get back we first sent to them. Then there is the £10bn we don’t get back which we have to send them as well.
A senior scientist yesterday on the media implied that we would not get grant money for universities out of the EU. Some of the university grants and collaborative programmes are European programmes not organised by the EU, so we would remain eligible. Any so called EU money that was discontinued is our money which we sent them in the first place, so we can simply pay our own universities with that money which no longer has to be sent to Brussels. Our scientists will continue to work with scientists from many other countries including member states of the EU after we have left, as universities are rightly collaborative on a global basis across national frontiers.