More people in Doncaster are identifying as English than before the EU referendum

More people in Doncaster are identifying as English than before the EU referendum, figures suggest, while fewer say they are British.

By Tommy Lumby, Data Reporter
Thursday, 14th January 2021, 12:47 pm

That’s according to the Office for National Statics Annual Population Survey, which asks a sample of local people how they would describe their national identity.

The survey shows 55 per cent of people in Doncaster identified as English in the year to June 2020, up from 48 per cent four years earlier, in the run-up to the EU referendum.

But Britishness is on the decline – 47 per cent said they were British, compared to 60 per cent in the year to June 2016.

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Fifty five per cent of people in Doncaster identified as English

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In the survey, people can identify as British, English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh or “other”. Respondents can choose as many options as they think apply to them, so could choose English and British as dual identities.

The opposite was seen across England as a whole – while the proportion who felt they were British rose from 49 per cent to 56 per cent over the period, those opting for English dropped from 52 per cent to 47 per cent.

Professor John Denham, director of the Centre for English Identity and Politics, said the relative rise in British identity was in line with other recent surveys.

“It is not clear why this has happened, but one significant factor is likely to be age,” said Prof Denham, who runs the centre at the University of Southampton.

“It has been the case for some time that younger generations have been more likely than older residents to emphasise their British identity.”

He said there was a misconception that English identity had been on the rise in recent years, which was partly driven by Brexit.

“The myth came about because national identity became politically salient in a way it never had been before,” he added.

“Those who emphasised their English identity were much more likely to vote Leave, and those who emphasised Britishness were more likely to vote Remain.”

But he pointed out that other surveys show around eight in 10 people identify as both.

Sunder Katwala, director of the independent think tank British Future, agreed that the trend was partly driven by generational differences in attitudes.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.