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The England football team is a more unifying symbol of Englishness for both white and ethnic minority Britons than the English flag or St George, a poll has found.
The survey of 2,088 adults for think tank British Future found 66 per cent of whites and 65 per cent of ethnic minorities agreed that the England football team was a symbol of England that belonged to people of every race and ethnic minority.
In contrast under half (48 per cent) of ethnic minorities felt the same about the England flag, compared with six in ten (59 per cent) of white Britons.
Only four in ten ethnic minority citizens in England (39 per cent) agreed that a St George’s Day party was a symbol of England that belonged to everyone, compared with over half (54 per cent) of white respondents.
An overwhelming majority of people agreed that being English does not depend on the colour of one’s skin. Three quarters (77 per cent) of white people in England agree that “being English is open to people of different ethnic backgrounds who identify as English”.
Just 14 per cent feel that “only people who are white count as truly English”. Two-thirds (68 per cent) of ethnic minority citizens agree that being English is open to people of all backgrounds, while 19 per cent feel that English identity is the preserve of white people.
Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said: “It is common sense in our country now that you don’t need to be white to be English. Our football team – from Viv Anderson through Ian Wright to Marcus Rashford – made more difference than anything else to establishing that.
“Only a shrinking racist fringe would say that these players cannot be English.
“This research also shows that we can’t just leave it to football. We need to do more to promote an inclusive Englishness outside of sport, to ensure that ethnic minorities fully share this confidence in a modern English identity that we can all be part of.
“We should hear about this more often – not just when a big football tournament is taking place."