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Boris Johnson isn’t an ‘English nationalist’ but an ‘Anglo-centric British nationalist’, says professor

11 Dec 2020 3 minute read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture by Chatham House (CC BY 2.0)

Boris Johnson isn’t an English nationalist but a “but an Anglo-centric British nationalist” who sees Britain as an extension of England, according to a professor.

Professor John Denham of the University of Southampton’s Centre for English Identity and Politics, made the claims on the Welsh politics podcast Hiraeth.

His comments come after former Tory MP for Aberconwy, Guto Bebb, said that the Johnson administration was an “English nationalist” one.

According to Professor Denham, also a former MP, the UK Prime Minster is a British nationalist, but has a “very English view of it”.

“The Johnson government is not English nationalism. There’s a big distinction between Anglo-centric British nationalism, which is what he is,” the former Labour MP for Southampton Itchen said.

“So, he’s a British nationalist, he just has a very English view of it. The reason I say that’s not English nationalism is one of the things about Anglo-centric British nationalism is it denies the existence of England.

“Because it says in a sense that the union is the extension of England, it denies the existence of England.

“So real English nationalism would be delivering what the political English want, which is an English parliament, English interests protected within the union, a different distribution of resources.

“The other thing about English nationalism is that it’s a curious nationalism that doesn’t have a political party, a political programme, public intellectuals, all those sorts of things. I would say that Johnson is a British nationalist.”



In the podcast, Professor Denham also urged to the UK Labour Party to “talk about England when it means England,” rather than talking about Britain when it really means England.

He said: “Repeated failure of Labour Party front bench people to mention England when they’re talking about England. So, if you are the shadow health spokesperson you won’t mention the English NHS when that’s the limit of your remit.

“What Labour needs to do initially at least is talk far more about England. UK Labour, which is the English Labour Party talks about Britain when it means England in the mistaken belief that’s what Scottish nationalists want to hear. They want to hear English people talking about Britain and not about England.

“Actually, the problem that Labour’s got, that England’s got, is that we don’t delineate the difference between England and Britain. So, the first stage undoubtedly is to persuade the Labour Party to talk about England when it means England.”

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