August bank holiday should be national day in United Kingdom says Byrne

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London, June 3 : With a view to promote a common British identity, Liam Byrne, the Immigration Minister, said that the August bank holiday should become United Kingdom's "national day".

A "national day" should become the focal point of a campaign for "stronger shared standards" and a cultural code to which immigrants are expected to adhere, said Byrne.

He has spent recent weeks canvassing voters' opinions on a "national day" as he prepares a pamphlet for a think tank on the subject.

While acknowledging that some people oppose the idea of a collective celebration as un-British, Byrne said: "I think a clear majority of people support the idea of a national day of celebration."

Byrne was quoted by Telegraph as saying, "Britishness Day" should be a "celebration of what we like and love about living in this country."

Byrne's call for a national day increases the prospect of the Government formally adopting the plan.

In fact, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is considering the recommendations of Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General, who reviewed British citizenship and recommended the creation of a national day.

The minister's speech is likely to be seen as an attempt to distance Labour from its previous embrace of multiculturalism and toughen the party's rhetoric on immigration.

He is also likely to say: "The secret to preserving harmony in a more diverse society is stronger shared standards".

Some groups of civil society, including trade unions, have argued that any national day should be on a new bank holiday, giving workers an extra day off each year.

The August bank holiday is traditionally held on the last Monday in August in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Scotland has its holiday on the first Monday of the month.

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