UK
08/07/2013 07:34 BST | Updated 08/07/2013 07:36 BST

'English' Identity Means You Are More Likely To Be Wary Of EU

St George Cross Flag. Blackpool, England. UK
Getty
St George Cross Flag. Blackpool, England. UK

Do you identify as English, rather than British? If you do, you are much more likely to be Eurosceptic, according to new research.

It is those who identify as English who believe they get a raw deal from membership of both the UK and the EU.

While more than half of people living in England who say they are ‘more English than British’ believe that the UK’s membership of the EU is a ‘bad thing’, less than a third of people who feel ‘more British than English’ agree, according to a report published by the think tank IPPR and Cardiff and Edinburgh Universities.

The report's authors argue that politicians have not done enough to address the English nationhood zeitgeist, and point to the rise of Ukip as the "de-facto English National Party".

More than 70% of those who say they are exclusively English and 58% of those who say they are more English than British would vote to leave the EU respectively. And 43 %of the English believe that Britain’s membership of the EU is a bad thing, compared to 28 per cent who say it is a good thing.

Nick Pearce, IPPR director, said: “English identity is on the rise and it is increasingly expressed in terms that are resentful of both the EU and the devolution settlement. Attitudes towards England’s two unions are related and two sides of the same coin of English discontent.

"Our mainstream political parties need to embrace Englishness, take it seriously, and find new ways of giving it political expression. Labour and progressive politics need to recognise that Englishness is not something to be feared or abandoned to those on the margins of right wing politics. But the longer this debate is ignored, or worse, denied, the more likely we will see a backlash within England against the UK. "

There has been a strengthening of a purely English identity in recent years, the data shows, showing that while people living in England retain a dual sense of identity, they are increasingly choosing to prioritise their English over their British identity.

The report is based on a poll of over 3,500 people living in England only. UKIP’s supporters express the strongest sense of English identity (55 per cent of UKIP supporters prioritise their English over their British identity.

Photo gallery See Gallery

And UKIP supporters are the most dissatisfied with the constitutional status quo in the United Kingdom. 49 per cent agree that England should become an independent country; while over 90 per cent, unsurprisingly, of want out of Europe too.

And those most likely to put their 'X' in the referendum asking if they would leave the EU, are those with the strongest sense of English identity. By contrast it is those with a stronger sense of British national identity, who make up the smallest part of the English population, who are most supportive of the EU.

Those who have their suspicions about the EU are likely to also have suspicions about the fairness of devolution, strongly believing ‘Scotland gets more than its fair share of public spending’, that ‘Scottish MPs should no longer vote on English laws’ and that the ‘UK government cannot be trusted to work in England’s interest’.

More than 90% of those people who think the EU is a bad thing also believe that Scottish MPs should not be allowed to vote on English matters and that Scots should pay for devolved services with Scots taxes.

There is now a substantial strain of English opinion who wish to see UK withdrawal from the EU and who support giving England greater recognition in the UK’s constitutional arrangements.

“Alienated from both Europe and the other nations of the UK, and especially Scotland, the English appear increasingly discontented with their lot," said Richard Wyn Jones, Professor of Politics at Cardiff University and co-author of the report.

"Yet the British political class seems largely unable to recognise that there's a problem let alone suggest relevant solutions. This report should stand as a stark warning. It's high time that England and Englishness receive due recognition from the political system.

"The rise of UKIP underlines the dangers of not taking England seriously. That party is already the de facto English National Party and the inter-relationship between Euro-scepticism and discontent with the way that England is governed creates the perfect opportunity for that party to further strengthen its appeal.”

The report's other co-author Charlie Jeffery, professor of Politics at Edinburgh University said the feeling that

England is getting a raw deal in the post-devolution UK "is nigh on universal".

He continued: "There appears to be a reluctance in some quarters to talk about England for fear of how it might play in Scotland in the run-up to 2014. But it is surely mistaken to allow the debate in Scotland to inhibit a discussion about England's place in a reformed union."