Patrick Christys: Has any country in the world got integration right?

'What does it mean to be British?'

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Britain is becoming more diverse and multicultural by the day, which is all well and good, but what are we doing to ensure that people integrate into British society?

Shouldn’t we ALL be giving this some serious thought?

We’re all aware that there are parts of the UK where little to no integration appears to have taken place.

I went to school on what is affectionately known as The Curry Mile in Rusholme, Manchester, which has a huge South East Asian community.

It is not uncommon that people born in this country to immigrant parents often don’t speak English as a first language, some struggle to speak it much at all.

We have to face facts – we have net annual migration of around 270,000, non-EU net migration has gradually increased since 2013 and is now at the highest level since records began in 1975.

From 2001 to 2011, the percentage of the population of England and Wales that was White British decreased from 87.4% to 80.5%, and I think it’s pretty obvious that when the results of the latest census emerge, that percentage will have decreased again.

Now before people start shouting at their TV, screaming – who’s this far right nutjob banging on about there not being enough white people – it’s probably worth noting that I am half Greek Cypriot and half Irish, so I come from an immigrant family and I also couldn’t give a stuff about what the colour demographics of Britain are.

But what I do care about is the idea that we might be heading towards a situation where we have societies within societies.

Where we have pockets of the country that are almost like their own little country.

That just seems like a completely self-defeating way to model a nation, surely we should want to create a situation where we’re all pulling together in the same direction, not living in separate cultural bubbles.

Could it be that our country’s love affair with mass immigration as well as bringing diversity, is also bringing division?

Who’s the responsibility on when it comes to integration?

Do the new arrivals have a moral duty to learn the language, to assimilate, to love Britain?

There’s a case for that, especially if people want to make use of our NHS and our education system. But there’s also another side to it – how easy do we make it for people to integrate?

Let’s be honest, Brits aren’t exactly known for seamlessly slotting into the local culture when ex-pats move abroad.

Many Brits abroad travel about as well a suitcase full of blue cheese on a hot day.

You’re more likely to get a roast dinner or a full English Breakfast at most pubs in the Costa Del Sol instead of the traditional paella that Spain is famous for, and many Brits in Spain only know the words laquenta por favour.

And what are these British values that we’re asking people to comply with and to adopt? Have we actually got a national identity anymore?

There are a couple of glaring issues as far as I’m concerned – I’m worried about the fact that some people from more, shall we say, traditional communities have quite backward views on women’s rights and LGBT rights, that’s obviously a problem.

I’ve got a load of esteemed guests from a variety of cultural backgrounds on to talk about our big issue of the day – integration – and we’ll be getting stuck right into it, asking the big questions – is integration happening in the UK? Does it need to?

What does it mean to be British?

Has any country in the world got it right? And what can we expect the future of this country to be if we don’t get it right?