30 November 2020 | OPINION

As soon as I was able to speak, I was informed about my identity. Growing up on the outskirts of Belfast, it was made in very clear terms to me that I was “a Protestant, a Unionist and a Loyalist”! This can sometimes be difficult for other members of the UK to understand, and in some quarters it can be easily sneered at, but behind this is firm patriotism that should be exported across the Irish Sea. This is why I fully support the Conservative Progress group’s campaign for a Love Our Union Day.

It seems almost unfashionable and a cliché to proclaim the 1707 and 1801 Acts of Union as a great success. Nevertheless, from sport to culture, from inventions to discoveries – this is undoubtedly true. But as with any long marriage, tensions are becoming more and more noticeable. Having lived in England for over 10 years, from what I can see, the SNP is the biggest driver of so-called ‘English Nationalism’.

The SNP has taken over Sinn Fein’s position as the leading force that seeks to undermine and destroy our union. Their constant attacks on Westminster in relation to all areas, from education to health, ring hollow and infuriate unionists (especially as they have full powers over these areas). In the run up to the 2021 Scottish Elections, Douglas Ross should continue to attack the SNP on their failures to deliver improvements in public services due to their utter obsession with a second independence referendum.

I have written previously on supporting the idea of a bridge or a tunnel from Scotland to Northern Ireland. In the last few months, there have been growing fears that an economically United Ireland would promote the case for an actual United Ireland. A bridge from Portpatrick to Larne would bring both Northern Ireland and Scotland closer to the union.

Another positive idea is bank holidays for the four nations of the UK. Why should St Patrick’s Day be a bank Holiday in Northern Ireland but St George’s Day not a bank holiday in England? At the same, I want to see St David’s Day celebrated in England just as much as in Wales! A unionist bank holiday is another excellent idea. This would be a festival of all things British and would bring us closer to a United Kingdom.

We have a shared land, a shared history and a shared culture. We have shared institutions, such as the NHS, our armed forces and (God forbid) even the BBC! A Union Day would give our United Kingdom the fresh impetus needed for 2020.

Paul Maginnis is a Conservative Party activist and author of The Return of Meritocracy: Conservative Ideas for Unlocking Social Mobility. He is also a Conservative Councillor for Sawley in Erewash, and his interests include social and economic policy.


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