England’s future?

What is England’s future? To know England’s future, let us look at our past. England has actually been invaded by the Vikings, the Romans, and William the Conqueror, etc. A fuller list can be found on Wikipedia. The Saxon influence of English history diminished after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The language of the courts was French for the next three centuries and the Norman ambiance prevailed. Our language now has words from all over the world to prove the point. Words such as Ballet, Café, Entrepreneur, and many others, have all come from other languages. So no one is 100% English and many of our values have also been influenced by other cultures too.

If you still don’t believe me, get a DNA test! The fossils of early humans who lived between 6 and 2 million years ago come entirely from Africa. So at one stage or another, many people have slowly moved and that means, by definition, our bloodlines will be mixed. It also means we are also brothers and sisters of the same human family. England is now broadly Christian and as such, we should be metaphorically loving thy neighbors, even if they are “immigrants”!

What makes us English?

I want to take a quick brief look back at some of our creations. Richard Trevithick built the first steam locomotive in 1802. The first commercially successful steam locomotive was built in 1812–13 by John Blenkinsop. Robert Stephenson and Company was the pre-eminent builder of steam locomotives in the first decades of steam for railways in the United Kingdom, the United States, and much of Europe. Creative Brits were facilitating the expansion of our empire and English quickly became the International language as a result. The internet was created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. The list of British creators, inventors and original thinkers is very long, and includes Newton, Michael Faraday, Stephen Hawking, Graham Bell, Russel Hobbs, and many others.  So we were a creative Nation.

But let us also not forget the contribution that immigrants have had on our Country. Sir Alexander Arnold Constantine Issigonis CBE FRS RDI was a Greek automotive designer, widely noted for the development of the groundbreaking Mini. A car that has become a National Institution. Freddy Mercury, fled Zanzibar as a child with his family to the UK. Songs by Queen have become universally popular. Football is probably the UK’s favorite sport. Take a good hard look at any of the top teams. How many players are 100% English?

In the industrial era, the UK famously didn’t just take over many Countries and claim ownership, we also brought back with us many people. As a result, the UK encouraged and welcomed foreigners. The ‘Windrush’ generation are those who arrived in the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1973. And the most famous example of them all is the Royal Family. They have German roots. Prince Phillip came from Greece.

So I think we were a tolerant and inclusive culture. To prove the point, Nigel Farage has a German wife. Two of his children have German passports. He also freely admitted that even though he fought to take the UK out of the EU, he will still claim his EU pension! Tim Martin has freely admitted to employing over 3500 immigrants and Weatherspoon menus’ apparently went international in 1991, but as a “Neverspoons” supporter, I must admit I wouldn’t actually know!

We were also a highly musical Nation. Take a good hard look at the vast amount of famous bands to have come from our shores including the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, etc. It is not just a recent phenomenon either. English medieval music is extraordinary. Those bands toured the world and helped to put our Country on the map. COVID-19 is now making that option significantly harder. But there is no need to make it harder still by shooting ourselves in the feet with new Brexit regulations, taxes, costs, etc.

We are also a highly literate nation with Dickens, J.K Rowling, and William Langland, etc. The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and is one of the largest libraries in the world. It is estimated to contain between 170–200 million items from many countries – not just English books!

The Black Death gave rise to British Pub Culture. When the plague arrived in 1348, drinking beer was already a fundamental component of Englishness. The idea of a pub is not actually English, it was brought over by the Romans. Pub food includes many foreign influences. Many English people prefer eating Norwegian Cod for their fish and chips. English fish tend to be oily in comparison and far less popular.

Queen Victoria tasted her first authentic Indian curry in 1887 when her servant Abdul Karim cooked it for her. She pronounced the curry to be ‘excellent’ and then ordered that curries would be cooked in the Royal kitchens every day. For thirteen years till her death, curries were always cooked and served at luncheon. Indian food and influences can be found in many English dishes. Indian curries are popular in English pubs too.

There is nothing wrong with being “European”. Sir Winston Churchill actually talked about the “United States of Europe” in a speech delivered on 19 September 1946 at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. In this speech given after the end of the Second World War, Churchill concluded: “We must build a kind of United States of Europe. In this way only will hundreds of millions of toilers be able to regain the simple joys and hopes which make life worth living.”

England’s future

Are we going to suddenly change our traditions as a result of the first referendum and everything that came afterward? Do we really know where we are going? Can we seriously expect to meet all the promises that were made by the Leave campaign? I don’t think we can. England’s future should be as a contributing and proactive member of the European Union. So what are the benefits of EU membership? Let us compare being in and out of the EU… For a full list of EU benefits, check out the EU website For more information, please contact me

What makes us English?
England's Future - what is it? #rejointheEU

Author: Piers Midwinter
I am an artist and a teacher. I am currently teaching at a Cambridge International School in Vietnam.