Image of Union Jack heart shaped key ring
The influence of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band on British political life. Cool Britannia. Photo ©

Under licence from CC Creative Commons, adapted from the original.

July 2017

There has never been a better time to revisit ideas of UK identity. Who we are, and how we present ourselves to others, has rarely mattered more. The way we are perceived abroad is hugely important in determining the tone and outcome of our international conversations, whether the subject is trade deals or human rights.

The British Council has partnered with Demos on a special edition of their quarterly journal of ideas, to put together a collection of essays from prominent writers including Philip Collins, Sir Vince Cable MP, Simon Heffer, Dame Helen Ghosh, Justine Thornton QC, and Professor Margaret MacMillan, which consider the United Kingdom’s identity and identities. 

Britain’s imperial past, our wartime history, class division, immigration all feed into the mix, as do our inventiveness, creativity, pragmatism and belief in rights

The essays reveal diverse views from across the UK and abroad, of who we are and what we might become. Britain’s imperial past, our wartime history, class division, immigration all feed into the mix, as do our inventiveness, creativity, pragmatism and belief in rights. And they give rise to some big questions: How will our historical past shape our future relations with other countries? Will the regions escape the pull of London? What about the role of women?

One of our priorities for the near future will be making sure every young person in the United Kingdom has intercultural and international experience

For the British Council, international and intercultural understanding are key. One of our priorities for the near future will be making sure every young person in the United Kingdom has intercultural and international experience: to widen young people’s horizons, enlarge their ambitions, and to promote as powerfully as we can a message of openness and connection to the world.

Sir Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive, British Council

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