How will the Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis vpte in the EU referendum? A recent question from Andrew Rosindell MP about flags rather indicated that Mr Lewis is not a great enthusiast for our membership.
Mr Rosindell asked that his Department "encourage local authorities to follow the example of Cumberland in raising awareness of their county flags and coats of arms."
Mr Lewis responded that:
Since May 2010, my Department has taken a series of steps to champion the flying of local and national flags across the United Kingdom.
We have regularly flown county flags from outside our offices in Victoria to mark county days or those of their patron saints, and we have explicitly recognised England's traditional counties such as
Cumberland and Middlesex. We have also recognised wider localities, such as the kingdom of Wessex, which was the foundation of the English nation.
Previously, many parts of Whitehall and municipal officialdom have shunned our traditional and historic identities, many of which date back over a thousand years of English history. Our moves to champion local identities complements this Government's abolition of unelected regional government in England which was based on European Union's artificial “NUTS1” administrative boundaries.
My Department has amended the law to make it easier to fly flags without a permit from the council. A plain English guide, which provides a brief summary of the simplified rules over flag flying, is
We have encouraged councils to fly the Cross of St George with pride and we have challenged the tiny minority who have foolishly tried to ban the flying of our national flags for the misplaced fear of “giving offence”. Community cohesion is strengthened—not undermined—by flying the flag.
We have not undertaken an explicit programme to raise awareness of coats of arms, but I would welcome suggestions from my hon. Friend and other hon. Members. I am also keen to support local communities, be they a county, district, borough, city, town, village, burgh, parish or riding, in establishing and flying their own local flags.
He then added, rather pointedly I thought:
Of course, flying a flag should be a pleasure, not a chore. Our actions in supporting local people in flying their flags with pride are in contrast with the draconian actions of the European Commission, which has sought to bully Britons into flying the EU flag under the threat of fines through Article 7(2) of EC Regulation 1828/2006. Any institution which seeks to coerce people into flying its flag is one with a deep sense of insecurity about the lack of its public affection and support.