Most Welsh people still feel ‘some kind of Britishness’, says historian
Most Welsh people still feel “some kind of Britishness”, a historian has said.
Professor Martin Johnes of Swansea University has argued that this is despite the idea of Wales being a country, and not part of the UK being “very strong”.
He said that the country’s history, and the idea that Wales is more than a region, is mostly responsible for sustaining the Welsh national identity, ahead of his contribution to This Union: Being Welsh.
The Radio 4 programme in Welshness and the United Kingdom is set to air this evening.
According to Professor Johnes, Welsh independence is on the political agenda like never before, but he cautioned that turning that into a reality is a “different” matter.
He argued that Brexit has shown that it is possible to turn the idea into a reality, and that it has also challenged the idea of the UK as an “open and tolerant” place.
That has made the UK less relevant to a number of people in Wales, he argued.
Professor Johnes told Golwg360: “The idea that Wales is a country is really strong, and that is something that has been passed on to us.
“That history is taught to us through school, through stories, through film, and through what we hear from our families.
‘Our identity has endured’
He added: “Because it’s an idea, that’s why our identity has endured. It’s not something to do with the official definition, it’s easy for that idea to change with time, with the conditions, it can mean different things to different people.
“Wales doesn’t have to be, in the Welsh sense, be the same for everyone, and that’s its strength.
The academic suggested that although Brexit has raised both practical questions and ones about identity, the feeling of Britishness is “still there”.
“I believe that most people in Wales feel some kind of Britishness. Like Welshness it means different things to different people.
“Brexit has raised different questions. On the one hand, it has shown people that change is possible, that it is possible to start again, and that it is possible to come up with an idea that can become reality.
“No one 10 years ago would have said leaving the EU was realistic.”
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