Chesterfield MP Toby Perkin’s idea for an English national anthem approved in principle by Parliament

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins.

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins.

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An idea put forward by Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins to create a national anthem for England has been approved in priciple by Parliament.

England fans sing God Save the Queen at sporting events but Mr Perkins says this is the UK national anthem and English supporters should have their own song.

He points out that Flower of Scotland is sung by Scottish supporters and Land of Our Fathers by Welsh.

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MPs discussed whether to formally create a national anthem for England to be used by the football, cricket and rugby teams and other groups and individuals who represent the country during an initial Parliamentary debate on Wednesday afternoon.

The first reading of Mr Perkins’ English National Anthem Bill was passed and will now be subject to a second Parliamentary debate in March.

However, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said he opposed Mr Perkins’ idea of an English anthem for “deep and serious reasons”.

He said there was no greater pleasure for an Englishman than hearing the British national anthem.

Mr Perkins said: “I have nothing against God Save the Queen but that is the national anthem of the United Kingdom.

“England is a component part of the UK but it competes as a country in its own right and I think a song which celebrated England rather than Britain would be more appropriate.

“There has been much talk about the union in recent years. I am English and I am British and I am proud of both of these things but they are not the same thing.

“And so I think part of the new settlement for Britain in these times of devolution is to more formally recognise that England and Britain are different entities and just as we have different flags so we should have a discussion about having a song for England.”

The Labour MP rejected claims it was an attack on the Scots and Welsh.

He said: “I hope the Scots and Welsh will also recognise this not as an anti-union move but a pro-union one.

“By recognising that England is a component part of the union but a different entity, I think this strengthens both our Englishness but also reminds us all of what the union is.

“England is different from Britain and I think there should be a conversation about that.

“My preference would be for Jerusalem but it could be There’ll Always be an England or Land of Hope and Glory,” he added.

TheySay, Oxford University’s social media sentiment analysis tool, looked at 10,000 tweets about the debate.

Dr Karo Moilanen, co-founder of TheySay, said: “Twitter users are open to the idea of an official English national anthem. In our analysis of almost 10,000 tweets, we detected almost no negative sentiment regarding England adopting a national anthem.

“Users shared hundreds of tweets offering their suggestions, with Jerusalem being the most popular. Others seemed keen for England to stick with God Save the Queen while there were many who suggested David Bowie’s Heroes could be the official English anthem.

“All in all, it seems that Twitter opinion is in agreement with MPs.”

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