Skip Content

English identity and the governance of England

By Professor John Denham and Daniel Devine

Paper which sets out and explores data on how English people see themselves, especially with regards to English or British identity and the impact of age, education, social class and ethnicity.

A good place to start discussion of England’s governance is with the aspirations of the English people. But understanding what the English people want or believe is not as simple as it may sound. The views of the English people might include all the people of England, those who identify in some way as English, or those who identify most strongly or exclusively as English. In a democracy, the ‘English people’ must include all those entitled to vote in England. In recent years, several studies have suggested that ‘English’ identity has become more assertive at the expense of ‘British’ identity. There is some evidence of significant differences in values and attitudes amongst English and British identifiers. Some surveys show correlations between national identity and political behaviour, including views on England’s governance. This short paper summarises some of what we know, and what we don’t, about these different identities of the English people.


England and the English after the Referendum


Peter Hennessy and David Cannadine discuss English identity in the light of Devolution and Brexit

Publication part of

Governing England

One part of the United Kingdom is often missing from literature and debates about governance, constitution and identity: England. In the aftermath of referendums on Scottish independence and Brexit, the identity and preferences of those who live in England and consider themselves English has become more important. Who are they and how do they want to be governed?