It’s time to foster pride, self-confidence and unity in Brexit Britain

It’s time to foster pride, self-confidence and unity in Brexit Britain

I am very fortunate that as a patriotic Brit, I represent an incredibly patriotic constituency. In my local town of Morley, for example, we have an annual St George’s weekend of celebrations. Thousands line the streets as St George parades through the town on horseback. People young and old, proudly engage in the celebrations. We love our country, we love our Queen and we support our troops as hundreds line our streets to pay our respects on Remembrance Sunday. But being patriotic goes beyond flag waving. It goes much deeper. It is about the values that we hold that make us true Brits.

I recently co-hosted a Parliamentary reception with Andrew Rosindell MP for the organisation One Britain One Nation (OBON). OBON is essentially about bringing people together, regardless of race, religion or background, to celebrate what unites us all: being British. Despite our many differences, we all share common values of compassion, tolerance and respect and it is important that we take time to celebrate this.

The OBON campaign was established by Kash Singh, a former police Inspector from Bradford, who was on the front line during the infamous Bradford race riots in 2001. Kash was tasked with restoring order to the Manningham area of Bradford, which had been hit by what was described as the worst riots in Britain. Kash took control of the situation and within 18 months he was presiding over one of the lowest crime rate areas in the district – an achievement that won him the West Yorkshire Police Oscar, the Criminal Justice Award. This was down to his unique interpersonal skills which allowed him to sooth tensions and encourage reconciliation. It is these same skills that make Kash so well suited to heading the OBON project. His vision of a united, tolerant and respectful society is, I think, one that we should all strive for.

I first heard of the OBON project back in 2016 during the referendum. I also visited a local school in my constituency last year and I was genuinely taken aback by how excited the students were about this idea. It was truly infectious to see the enthusiasm with which they waved the flag and sang the national anthem. There was a real buzz in the air. It is this enthusiasm that I would like to spread to all parts of the country.

The newly formed OBON All Party parliamentary Group will work tirelessly to promote this idea within Parliament, to build momentum across society with the hope that the concept can be rolled out to all regions in the United Kingdom. One issue I will seek to build support for in Parliament is a national day of celebration, where everyone can reflect and celebrate what it means to be British. France have Bastille Day. The US have Thanksgiving. But for one reason or another, we do not have one major day each year where people are able to feel patriotic about living in this great land. With support for OBON building momentum each day, this now seems like a realistic prospect in the future.

OBON will no doubt be instrumental in shaping our national character at home. However, I would like to go one step further than this. I would like to shape the way we are portrayed to the world. We all know that we will soon leave the EU. I was a passionate advocate of leaving but whatever your views on Brexit are, OBON provides the perfect opportunity to encourage pride and self-confidence in our country. This will be crucially important in a post-Brexit world when we will need to stand tall, once more, as a sovereign, independent and prosperous country.

My vision for a post-Brexit Britain is one of hope. We will be a global, free-trading nation, able to speak to other countries on equal terms, without restrictions or limitations. Businesses will have the confidence to export our world renowned produce and services wherever they choose. We will be in a position to welcome skilled migrants from developing and developed countries on an equal basis as European ones. This along with the OBON project at home will convince the world that we are a strong, prosperous country that made the right decision to the leave the EU.

I am confident that this is the start of something very special for our country and with enough support we can move forward together as One Britain, One Nation.