Britain should have a new bank holiday celebrating its special commitment to democracy, fairness and tolerance on St George’s Day or the anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands, an MP has claimed.
Ian Austin (Lab Dudley North) called for a patriotic celebration of the British values as the Government launches an official consultation on creating a new bank holiday.
Ministers want the public to tell them when the new national day should be.
Possible ideas include St George’s Day, on April 23, which would mean Wales had its own bank holiday on St David’s Day, March 1. Scotland and Northern Ireland already have bank holidays on St Andrew’s Day and St Patrick’s Day respectively.
Another proposal is to create a Bank Holiday on Trafalgar Day, October 21, celebrating the victory of the Royal Navy, commanded by Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, against invading French and Spanish fleets in 1805.
But Mr Austin set out another idea - to commemorate the liberation of the Falkland Islands by British forces following its invasion by Argentina in 1982.
Speaking in the House of Commons, he said; “Thirty years ago next year, British forces liberated the Falkland Islands. They did not just free the Falklands, but fought for democracy and freedom more broadly.
“Would it not be right for the nation to celebrate that anniversary next year, and every year, on 14 June, as an example of Britain’s commitment to democracy, equality, freedom, fairness and tolerance?”
He told MPs: “I think we should look for a day that enables us to celebrate much more what we are as a people and a nation, and the unique contribution we have made to the rest of the world.
“People sometimes ask me what it means to be British. I believe that it is not about where you were born, what you look like, where your parents were from, the religion you practise or any other such factors, but the contribution you make, what you believe, and your adherence to the great British values of democracy, equality, freedom, fairness and tolerance, to which I believe our country has a particular and unique attachment.
“People say that every other country can claim those values just as much as Britain can, but I do not believe that to be true
“For example, when other European countries rounded up Jews in the Second World War, put them on trains and sent them to concentration camps, Britain, uniquely, provided a safe haven for Jewish children such as my father, who came here at the age of 10, unable even to speak English.”
The Government plans to abolish the annual May Day Bank Holiday and replace it with a new one but Mr Austin said he hoped there would be a new bank holiday on top of May Day.