Armistice bank holiday and cricket on TV could help protect the Union – report
Other ideas include support for bids to host the World Cup.
Making Remembrance Day a Bank Holiday, allowing county flags on car number plates and showing Test cricket on free-to-air TV could help strengthen the Union, a report claims.
The Boris Johnson-led Government should look at strategies to “modernise the United Kingdom” and respond to a “nationalist and separatist agenda” brought about by Brexit, the Unleashing the power of the Union document said.
The paper, from the centre-right Policy Exchange think tank, also suggests the introduction of tourist taxes with raised funds spent in local areas, the creation of a Council of UK Civic Leaders and the analysis of moving – in part or in full – Government departments to parts of the country outside London.
The UK Government must recognise that Brexit has opened up the Union to a new nationalist and separatist agenda and respond in kind
It said: “The instrumental case for the power of the UK remains strong and unionists should not be reluctant to continue to make it.
“But the UK Government must recognise that Brexit has opened up the Union to a new nationalist and separatist agenda and respond in kind.”
November 11 is currently a public holiday in France, Belgium and the United States, while six of the ten Canadian provinces also have a statutory holiday for Remembrance Day.
As well as suggesting the UK follows the lead and make the anniversary of the Armistice a non-working day, the think tank also suggests taking the lead from overseas on registration plates.
It said: “People should be able to display their local area’s symbol or county coat of arms, flag, or similar, on their number plate, as is the case in many other European countries like Germany, France and Switzerland.
“For many people, their identity is strongly attached to where they live and where they were brought up.
“This can be seen in the way people support their local football team.
“Providing people the opportunity to display their civic pride would be a positive way for people to express local patriotism in much the same way.”
The Broadcasting Act – which allows the Government to stipulate sporting events are broadcast on free-to-air television – should also be looked at, with access to sporting events widened “as part of a strategy to modernise the UK”, the report said.
It added: “One only has to look at the impact of having the Women’s Football World Cup on the BBC has had for women’s football – the peak audience of England’s semi-final was 11.7 million people – and then compare it to the Cricket World Cup on subscription TV which, despite it being hosted in England and Wales, passed by largely unnoticed by the public until the final was broadcast on free-to-air television at the last minute.”
Bids from the UK and Ireland for the men’s football World Cup in 2030 and women’s World Cup in 2027 should also be supported, it said.
“As part of their support for each bid, the UK Government should help to fund the redevelopment of stadia across the UK, ” the report added.
“The objective should be ensuring that FIFA Football World Cup matches can be hosted in every corner of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
“For example, the UK Government could work with the Scottish Football Association (SFA) to help finance the upgrading of the Scottish national stadium Hampden Park in Glasgow, which is now owned by the SFA.”