2016: the British Future year

Posted on 31 December 2016

2016 was a year of political upheaval in which issues of identity, immigration and integration were never far from the headlines.

These were some of British Future’s main contributions to the public debate.

January

Our report How (not) to Talk About Europe looked at why the EU referendum verdict could go either way – and why both sides faced significant challenges to reach beyond those already onside.

February

Our report Making Citizenship Matter called for the next London Mayor to appoint a Deputy Mayor to head an new Office of Citizenship and Integration, to proactively support integration in the capital. The call, made with London Citizens and others, won the support of both leading candidates at the Citizens Assembly in the Copperbox arena, leading to the appointment of a new Deputy Mayor for Social Integration in September.

March

The Unknown and Untold project brought together Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in Leicester to explore the heritage of multi-faith participation in the British Army in the first world war.

April

An open letter in the Financial Times called on both sides of the referendum to support a ‘common sense consensus’ that EU migrants resident in Britain should be able to stay, whatever the result.

Imam Qari Asim wrote for the Yorkshire Post on how the values of St George can unite across faiths in England.

May

As Sadiq Khan was elected Mayor of London, we challenged him to be not just a symbol of integration but a practical champion of integration too.

The #WeAreAllEngland campaign marked the gradual emergence of an inclusive English identity.

June

June 23rd was the moment to let the people decide, Sunder Katwala wrote on referendum day. The following morning, Britain’s historic vote to leave  the European Union by 52% to 48% presented the new challenge of how to make Brexit work in a way that could bring people together.

We mourned the murder of Jo Cox MP. Thousands of people gathered in Trafalgar Square, in Batley and in gatherings around the world to commemorate Jo’s life and to show that together we have more in common.

Iceland brought England’s Euro 2016 hopes to an abrupt end – while Ashok Ahir blogged for British Future through the tournament on Welsh pride in their history-making semi-finalists.

July

Ramadan was marked with an Armed Forces Iftar hosted by the Ministry of Defence, marking the service of Muslim soldiers in the first world war and paying tribute to Lance Corporal Jabron Hashmi, who was killed serving in Afghanistan ten years ago on July 1st.

New polling showed 84% of people support the right of EU nationals to stay after the referendum. British Future coordinated a Sunday Telegraph letter bringing together a very broad coalition of 30 political, business and civic society voices calling for a government commitment.

Our first post-referendum report Disbanding the Tribes: What the referendum told us about Britain (and what it didn’t) explored what the geographical pattern of the Leave and Remain vote illustrated about social divisions in Britain, and argued that it was time to move on from the 48% and the 52% tribes.

August

As the first quarterly immigration statistics were published, our new report What Next After Brexit? set out the key political challenges and policy choices of the next five years. Jill Rutter makes the case for a National Conversation on Immigration to keep the public involved.

British Future began a cross-party inquiry on the status of EU nationals in Britain, chaired by Gisela Stuart MP.

September

At the Woking memorial burial ground, a very English garden party explored the history of Muslim contribution in the first world war and the challenges of creating a shared sense of confidence in an English Islam today.  Watch the video and read reports from the event.

A year after the death of Alyan Kurdi, the Refugees Welcome march called on the British government to play its part in protecting refugees.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan appointed Matthew Ryder as Deputy Mayor for Social Integration.

October

Our report Britain’s immigration offer to Europe set out a new proposal to square the public’s desire for greater control with a positive proposal that Britain could make in the Brexit negotiations. Watch our Daily Politics film and read some of the initial reactions to our proposal

November

Donald Trump’s election in a divided USA captured both similarities and key differences in comparative debates about about populism.

A Centenary Shared updated our research tracking public responses to the first world war centenary commemorations, showing a strong public interest in reconciliation as a key theme of the centenary.

December

We supported the launch of the Better Than That campaign against hate crime, alongside the Polish Cultural Institute and many other civic organisations.

As the Casey Review on integration was published, Avaes Mohammad wrote about growing up in Blackburn and the support that local change-makers need, and Sunder Katwala asked if the Review would lead to the vacuum of a missing integration strategy being filled.

Our cross-party inquiry report on the status of EU nationals in Britain, chaired by Gisela Stuart, saw Remain and Leave advocates unite behind a practical plan to guarantee the rights of Europeans in Britain. Read the report – and commentaries about the plan from inquiry panel members Fraser Nelson of the Spectator, Owen Tudor of the TUC, and Professor Steve Peers of the University of Essex.

The Home Affairs Select Committee announces a different kind of select committee inquiry with public hearings around Britain. Accompanying the regional hearings, British Future is coordinating a ‘National Conversation,’ consulting the public through a series of citizens’ panels, covering every nation and region of Britain, to inform the Committee’s inquiry.

2017 

British Future’s mission is to bring people together so that we can share a confident and welcoming Britain, inclusive and fair to all. That work starts afresh in January. Our early priorities in 2017 will include remaining engaged in the Brexit debate, and how this can move on as the government prepares to trigger Article 50 this Spring; we will be getting around the country to talk about immigration as the National Conversation launches; and we will look at the role which the election of new Metro-Mayors in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and Liverpool could play in deepening the integration debate in their cities and regions.

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