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Create minister to ‘protect the UK flag’, demands senior MP

Henry Smith, MP for Crawley and Chairman of the APPG on Flags & Heraldry (GB News)
Henry Smith, MP for Crawley and Chairman of the APPG on Flags & Heraldry (GB News)

A Conservative MP has called for the introduction of a new minister to “protect the UK flag” following criticism of the redesigned England and Team GB kits.

Henry Smith, MP for Crawley and Chairman of a parliamentary group on Flags & Heraldry, said that he is “fed up” with the “constant erosion of respect for our national symbols”.

Earlier this week, the British Olympic Association faced a backlash over the sale of Union Jack merchandise in colours beyond red, white and blue.

Designers introduced options including shades of pink and purple, rather than the traditional flag colours associated with the British Olympic team.

A similar row ensued after Nike altered the cross using purple and blue horizontal stripes on the back of the England Football Team’s shirt ahead of Euro 2024.

The US firm said the colours were inspired by the training kit worn by England’s 1966 World Cup winners.

Nike altered the cross using purple and blue horizontal stripes on the back of the England Football Team’s shirt ahead of Euro 2024 (Action Images via Reuters)
Nike altered the cross using purple and blue horizontal stripes on the back of the England Football Team’s shirt ahead of Euro 2024 (Action Images via Reuters)

Speaking on GB News, Mr Smith said: “We’ve seen this constant erosion of British identity.

“People died for freedom under the Union Flag and I think it should be respected.

“I’m fed up with this sort of constant erosion of respect for our national symbols and I suspect that this is something deliberate and I suspect Team GB, probably in a panic, just pulled it back to say that the Union Jack will be properly displayed on kit.”

Prime minister Rishi Sunak previously waded into the debate, saying kit manufacturers “should not mess” with the St George’s Cross.

Labour leader Kier Starmer echoed the PM’s comments.

Mr Smith added he welcomes the idea of a minister who had responsibility for national symbols.

He said: “It wouldn’t cost any more, it would just fix a point of responsibility in government to make sure that our national symbols are protected.

“So many of our symbols are now under actual deliberate attack by those who are interested in pursuing the culture wars, trying to cancel what it is to be British, and all of the great things that we have done.

“One of the things I reflect on, is that actually the Union Jack is a very trendy popular symbol around the world. You see the Union Jack everywhere, probably one of the most recognisable flags in the world.”

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Flags and Heraldry, which Mr Smith chairs, aims “to promote the flying of the Union Flag and flags associated with the UK, British territories, dependencies, the Commonwealth, heraldry, British symbols and related issues.”

A Spokesperson for the British Olympic Association said: “All Team GB athletes will wear the Union Jack as normal in Paris”.