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Make 23 April a public holiday says Simon Hughes

Simon Hughes, speaking on Monday at St George's Primary School in Southwark, has called for St George's Day to be made a public holiday in England.

Simon Hughes
Simon Hughes learns about the devotion to St George in Ethiopia at the St George in Southwark Festival last Sunday
Make 23 April a public holiday says Simon Hughes
Actors dressed as St George promote English beef and lamb in Jubilee Gardens on Monday

"There is now regular political debate about Britishness, national identity and community cohesion," said the North Southwark and Bermondsey MP during a visit to St George's Cathedral RC Primary School in Westminster Bridge Road.

"Some of us believe that the Labour government in ten years has missed some very obvious opportunities to show its support for developing British identity whilst at the same time recognising the valued differences of all four countries in the UK.

"St Andrew's Day is now a public holiday in Scotland and St Patrick's Day is a public holiday in Northern Ireland. It is long overdue that St George's Day and St David's Day should also be public holidays for England and Wales respectively. All four countries of the UK have great national traditions to be proud of.

"It would also be good to mark much more overtly Commonwealth Day each March and United Nations Day each October.

"There is also a very strong case for one day a year when we celebrate the huge benefit of the United Kingdom. There are various possibilities, but a government led consultation, public debate and a parliamentary decision could then be taken about which day to choose.

"We currently have UK bank and public holidays to celebrate important events in the Christian calendar, the beginning of the New Year and May Day, and two more days for a break in May and August! Surely finding a day that the whole UK could celebrate is not beyond us."

On Sunday the MP joined in part of the new St George in Southwark Festival which aims to create an annual multicultural celebration in the Borough to coincide with St George's Day and Shakespeare's Birthday which both fall on 23 April.

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