I’m a Brit baffled by new test

PUBLISHED: 13:44 02 March 2007 | UPDATED: 22:37 28 May 2010

Iguess all the non-racists of the when in Rome persuasion are now happy. The Government has finally agreed that foreigners applying to become British citizens must pass a test first. Details of that test – a 45-minute Britishness exam entailing 24 quest

Iguess all the non-racists of the "when in Rome" persuasion are now happy. The Government has finally agreed that foreigners applying to become British citizens must pass a test first.

Details of that test - a 45-minute Britishness exam entailing 24 questions - were announced this week.

In one of the questions the would-be Britisher has to place the UK's four national saints days in their calendar order.

Another asks for the minimum time you need to be married before you can apply for a divorce. Also deemed of value to this integration exercise are the following:

- Where is the Geordie accent spoken?

- Which telephone numbers do you use to call the emergency services?

- When did all 18-year-olds get the vote?

- Which type of court uses a jury system?

I know for certain that many current Britishers would be unable to answer many of those questions without doing a bit of research first.

And, as we all know what the questions are, the applicants will, of course, be able to carry out their own research before attempting the exam. And if they fail they can take it again, and again, and again. Until they finally pass and win the official stamp of Britishness.

There has been criticism that the tests - to be funded by a £34 fee by each of the 100,000 or so who apply for British citizenship each year - do not include questions on the UK's history, which might give the applicants some grasp of what makes us tick.

Even more bewildering is the ruling that the tests can be taken only by applicants with a good grasp of English. Those with poor language skills will attend a language and citizenship course, but will not have to pass the exam to gain citizenship.

This means immigrants who do not speak English could find it easier to become British than those who do.

All of which adds up to a load of posturing and patronising nonsense. What will the tests prove? How will they help?

This initiative (and I use the term loosely) will appease those who reckon Johnny Foreigner should have to earn his spurs before joining our exclusive club. It is a sop to the many millions of Britishers who feel threatened by immigration.

As a nation we should be feeling ashamed.


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