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Dr Omar Khan, Director of Runnymede Trust, ‘Why has Britain’s response to the dismantling of the refugee camp in Calais been so lively – or ugly? Because it raises fundamental questions about who we are as a country.. . . .

There never was a time when Britain and the British identity was impervious to migration. Migration to Britain didn’t begin when we joined the EU . . . To the question of who we are, there is an obvious answer. We are, as we have always been, a country defined by immigration (and indeed emigration). It’s a truth we should embrace, one that will provide the best resources for our success in the 21st century, post-Brexit or otherwise. But right now that truth is elusive. It’s strange to see Germany, a country with much less history of migration and with onerous baggage from its past, appearing more confident in terms of its identity and values. Many in Britain spoke this year of “taking our country back”, asserting the importance of sovereignty and democracy in the face of European bureaucracy. But it’s equally obvious that many based those aspirations on an imaginary history. This confusion imposes a cost, as the notion of a country where people of migrant background are never truly British doesn’t just misunderstand our past, it also pushes our nation down a route towards economic stagnation and social conflict.’ Writing in The Guardian, 27 October 2016, click here.

For Runnymede’s website on the shaping of Britain through migration, click here.

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