How do any of us get to be 'British' or 'English'? What are the rules of membership and who decides them?
Norman Tebbit thinks we should not put 'foreigners' before 'British' people.
This was his killer point in the Lords debate on the Labour amendment on the rights of EU nationals in Article 50 bill debate on Wednesday night. The foreigners are EU nationals living in the UK. The British are UK nationals living in other EU states.
Tebbit (the Chingford skinhead), known for his 'cricket test' for immigrants (which cricket team do you support?) thinks we should put the 800,000 British nationals in Spain (for example) ahead of the EU nationals living in the UK (or should I say Britain?). Spain doesn't really do cricket, but I wonder what proportion of the so-called British expats in Spain cheer for their adopted nation during the football world cup?
17 years ago, that brilliant old grump Darcus Howe - in his insightful and irreverent TV series, White Tribe - staged an impromptu interview with Norman Tebbit. This was the moment when Tebbit said to Howe that both of them are British but Howe could never be English, because being English was to do with your ethnicity. But during the interview, Tebbit divulged that he is the descendent of European mainland immigrants, from the Low Countries. He goes on to denigrate Belgians.
So how do any of us get to be 'British' or 'English'? What are the rules of membership and who decides them? How many generations must we be able to show that our ancestors were British-born or English-born before we are allowed to join the club?
If you've never watched White Tribe, you can still get it on the Channel 4 website. It has as much to teach us now as it ever did.
(For the Tebbit interview, see episode 1, about 40 minutes in)