Brown calls for stronger Britain

Gordon Brown has called for supporters of the United Kingdom to “speak up” against growing separatist calls, saying it could be a “beacon for the world”.

Writing in this morning’s Telegraph, the chancellor describes a growing threat from secessionists in Scotland, Wales and even England who seek a break-up of the union as it heads towards its 300th anniversary in May.

Mr Brown argues that a “stronger sense of patriotic purpose” is needed to help integrate ethnic communities, confront migration-related problems and strengthen the confidence of Britain’s foreign policies.

He calls for the establishment of an “Institute for Britishness” and a “permanent exhibition of historical documents” reflecting the nation’s history, together with changes to the national curriculum to boost newly-introduced lessons on citizenship.

“Other countries can learn from us getting the balance right between diversity and the strong common bonds that, at root, unify and bring us together. So, far from our union being an anachronism or in its death throes, we can be a beacon for the world,” he writes.

As the man most likely to succeed Tony Blair when the prime minister departs from Downing Street later this year, commentators have pointed out the wide themes Mr Brown’s article covers.

He distances himself from political extremes by contrasting the policies of former Conservative prime minister Lady Thatcher with those of the “old left”, which he says were “rightly ridiculed”.

“We should remember that from 1707, the union was founded not just on the respect for diversity that devolution recognises, but also on institutions that brought us together,” Mr Brown writes.

“It is now time for supporters of the union to speak up, to resist any drift towards a Balkanisation of Britain, and to acknowledge Great Britain for the success it has been and is: a model for the world of how nations can not only live side by side, but be stronger together but weaker apart.”