Page last updated at 17:51 GMT, Monday, 27 October 2008

British Day idea 'is still alive'

Flags being waved at the last night of the Proms
Flags being waved at the last night of the Proms

The Ministry of Justice insist plans for a British Day have not been axed and remain "very much alive".

The plan for a national holiday, like July 4 in the US or Bastille Day in France, was proposed as part of Gordon Brown's plan to celebrate Britishness.

It was one of the key recommendations of Lord Goldsmith's citizenship review.

Doubt was cast on the idea after MPs were told that while some ideas from the review would be taken forward, there were no plans a national day.

In a written answer to Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell minister Michael Wills said: "A number of Lord Goldsmith's recommendations merit further consideration across Government and will be taken into account in discussion and debate on policy development in these areas.

"However, there are no plans to introduce a national day at the present time."

'Disappointing'

Mr Wills worked on the original proposals for a national day to "focus on the things that bring us together... whatever our backgrounds".

The plan had run into trouble this summer when minister Liam Byrne proposed making the August bank holiday weekend the national day.

That meant rejecting Lord Goldsmith's proposal of it being an extra bank holiday - and prompted criticism from Scotland where most people's bank holiday is at the start of the month.

Mr Byrne said the day would give people the opportunity to celebrate "the best of being British" and "showcase all the colours of the British tapestry".

Mr Rosindell told the BBC he found the apparent decision to drop the plan "disappointing" and left the UK at odds with most other countries.

He also accused the government of "hypocrisy" in trying to "promote patriotism... but once they have got the short term publicity they quietly drop the plan".

Mr Rosindell, MP for Romford, said he wanted the national day - which he would call Britannia Day - to be the Monday after the Trooping the Colour celebration of the Queen's official birthday in June.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman later insisted the plan had not been dropped, was "very much alive" - and said Mr Wills had meant that plans had not been drawn up "at the present time".

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