By John Hayes MP
A historic vote will take place in Scotland on September 18.
While only people in Scotland will vote, as the outcome determines the future of the United Kingdom, the result matters to us all. If Scots choose to leave the Union, it will mark the end of a relationship that has shaped our Kingdom for more than three hundred years; a bond at the heart of shared British identity that defines us as a people.
We should all be proud of our Britishness and the values it embodies; freedom from oppression, fair play and the gentle acceptance of our differences.
It is Britain that by abolishing the slave trade in the 1800s led the world; and Britain that stood firm against fascism the first time it spread across Europe.
These prevailing values – upheld by the institutions of the Monarchy and Parliament – are shared across the four distinct parts of the United Kingdom. Each part making its distinctive contribution; from English understated courage, and the determined inventiveness of Scots, to Welsh lyricism and legend and Ireland’s literary riches.
That we continue to share British loyalties and qualities is exemplified by the way we all cheer Andy Murray during the Wimbledon championships and by events that typify the British spirit of pulling together shown by Spalding’s recent People’s Parade. The success of this new event was down to the hard work of all those who got on with the job, without fuss but with great determination – truly a people’s parade.
George Orwell wrote of Britishness: “There is something in it that is continuous, it stretches into the future and the past, there is something in it that persists, as a living creature. It has a flavour of its own.” I hope that Scots vote to remain part of the Union, for we would all be poorer for the loss of this particular flavour of the persistent living creature that is Great Britain.