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How Should British Be Defined?

Yesterday the headline in the Telegraph said a "British" fanatic plotted to kill thousands. This is the latest in a series of ‘British terrorist’ headlines we have seen.

But is the man Dhiren Barot really British? He certainly had a British passport – in fact, he had been in possession of five. Apparently he had lost one after another and the Passport Office replaced them without question.

But is he British? At sentencing Mr Justice Butterfield told him, “Your plans were to bring indiscriminate carnage, bloodshed and butchery first in Washington, New York and Newark, and thereafter the UK on a colossal and unprecedented scale.”

Barot had no loyalty or love of Britain, only hate. Is there any country on earth who being so hated would count him as its own?

A friend’s definition of Britishness goes something like this: “The British are those English speakers who are descended from the various northern European tribes and linguistic groups who settled sequentially in the islands now known as the British Isles and who subsequently assimiliated with each other to form the people known as the British. Examples of these tribes and linguistic peoples include the Angles, Saxons, Vikings, Danes, Jutes, Norsemen, Normans, Celts, and Picts.”

In this website we accept this definition but we also extend it to include people from all over the world who have settled in Britain and whose primary loyalty is to Britain and to the culture and people of Britain. We also include people of British descent who have emigrated to all parts of the world and who care for British traditions and call themselves “British” in a colloquial way while remaining loyal citizens of their adopted countries.

The terrible pity of Barot is that he found no reason to love Britain or Brits when there are so many heroes to love. Barot might even have become one.

This is a controversial subject, and I’ll explore it again.