Cornwall declares its independence

Its reputation as a pocket of nationalist rebellion has long formed part of Cornish folklore.

But now tourism leaders in the south-west of Britain appear to have further distanced themselves from the rest of the country after those charged with promoting the holiday destination were asked not to refer to “England” in promotional material.

In a move which appears to chime with those who have called for Cornish independence, Visit Cornwall boss Malcolm Bell has asked tourism staff to drop references to “county” and “England” in favour of “region” or simply the name Cornwall itself.

In a memo to staff, Mr Bell said the area — popular with hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers every year — ought to stand alone from the rest of Britain in an effort to attract the crucial tourism cash which props up Cornwall’s economy.

Asked if he had banned any reference to “county”, Mr Bell said: “Of course this isn’t a ban, we just want to make sure that, in a field full of poppies, Cornwall is the tallest.”

Mainland Britain’s southernmost county has a checkered history when it comes to its relationship with the rest of the country.

Five centuries ago, thousands of Cornish people marched on London in a demonstration against oppressive rule, while earlier this year, scores of bakers and consumers joined forces with politicians and the local Western Morning News newspaper in a bid to force a Government U-turn on a tax on pasties — a West Country delicacy.

The local authority has five councillors representing the Mebyon Kernow Cornish self-governance party.

The internet has also fanned the flames of resistance to second-home owners, with a small number of threats to celebrities, including TV chef Jamie Oliver, as well as spoof tourism websites intended to confuse holidaymakers.

But Mr Bell said the move was designed to increase Cornwall’s fame as a holiday and visitor destination, rather than to curry favour with Cornish nationalists.

“This was not done as a political gesture,” he said. “Every county in England is fighting against all the others to encourage tourists to stay, and so we want to stand out from the crowd.

“We don’t want to be ‘just another county’. We have a wonderful brand here, and so this was about promoting Cornwall as something unique.

“We conducted research in 2011 which showed 75% of tourists in Cornwall were aware that there is a Cornish language, and many thought that it was a good thing. It is part of our identity, and few regions in England can say they have that. So we want to maximise our potential by making the most of how special Cornwall is.”


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