Labour drops Corbyn pledge to make St George’s Day and others a bank holiday

From left: shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer addressed the public on Tuesday in the village of Cawood, Selby, North Yorkshire
From left: shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer addressed the public on Tuesday in the village of Cawood, Selby, North Yorkshire - Danny Lawson/PA

Labour has dropped a pledge to make St George’s Day a bank holiday if it wins the next general election.

The party had promised under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership to give workers a day off on April 23 to celebrate Britain’s “tradition of fairness, inclusivity and social justice”.

It also advocated for nationwide public holidays on St David’s Day on March 1, St Patrick’s Day on March 17 and St Andrew’s Day on Nov 30.

But a Labour source confirmed on Tuesday that the promise had been dropped as part of Sir Keir Starmer’s commitment to “start from scratch” and abandon Mr Corbyn’s pledges across several policy areas.

Earlier this week, Sir Keir declared patriotism “a force for good” and said his party must not flinch at flying the flag of St George in an attempt to outmanoeuvre the Conservatives on the issue of national identity.

In a list of times in his life when he had felt “great pride and gratitude” to be English, he recalled “belting out Three Lions” at Wembley Stadium during the Euro 96 tournament and reaching the peak of Scafell Pike, the highest point in England, with his mother.

St George's Day rally in London
A far-Right St George's Day rally caused disorder on Tuesday in London - Amer Ghazzal/Shutterstock

Rishi Sunak also declined calls to make April 23 a bank holiday during a visit to Warsaw. When asked about the prospect by GB News, he replied: “It is a proud day, it’s an incredibly proud day.

“I have the great pleasure in this job of travelling round the world and hearing how other people talk about what it means to be English, what we stand for, and I think we need to have that same pride too. I certainly do.”

Mr Sunak said he was in “full celebration mode” as he offered reporters covering his trip cakes emblazoned with an England flag design, while also noting it was William Shakespeare’s birthday.

On Tuesday, Mr Corbyn once again made the case for a St George’s Day bank holiday, writing on X: “I’ve always believed that today should be one of four new public holidays across the UK. Let’s bring our country together and give workers the break they deserve.”

Esther McVey, the minister for common sense, hosted a Downing Street reception for entrepreneurs and community leaders on Tuesday afternoon.

The gathering is thought to be the first of its kind for a decade and saw the No 10 staircase draped in St George Cross bunting.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the reception was designed to “celebrate the very best of English produce and enterprise, attended by business owners, charities and voluntary organisations”.

A YouGov poll showed English people who voted for Labour in 2019 were more likely to have a negative than a positive view of people who fly the flag of St George outside their homes.

Forty-four per cent of adults in England who backed the official opposition at the last national poll had an unfavourable opinion of those who adorn their homes with the national flag, while 38 per cent had a favourable view.

This is in stark contrast to the general public, who approve of people flying the flag outside their homes by 61 per cent to 21 per cent, with support rising to 84 per cent among English voters who backed Boris Johnson and the Conservatives at the 2019 election.