Qualifying for a British passport is going to get harder with the introduction, in March, of a tougher citizenship test which will require applicants to answer such arcane questions about British history and culture which even many native Britons may struggle to get right.
The revised Life in the United Kingdom syllabus has also been criticised for trying to “glorify” the British Raj while glossing over its downside. .
It is said to make no mention of anti-colonial freedom struggles claiming, instead, that “for the most part” there was “an orderly transition from empire to Commonwealth, with countries being granted their independence”.
“There is no mention of the million or more people who died in the communal and religious violence at Britain’s withdrawal during the 1947 partition of India,” The Guardian pointed out.
The section on India and the empire has a box on Rudyard Kipling and an extract from his poem ‘If’ which some British critics dismissed as “jingoistic nonsense”.
The campaign group Migrants’ Rights Network likened the new test to “entry examination for an elite public school”.
Applicants must score at least 75 per cent marks qualify the 45-minute test, crammed with questions about Britain’s military triumphs and “artistic achievements — from medieval stained glass to David Hockney; our national love of gardening; and the work of influential architects” not to mention the comedy group Monty Python.
Ten sample questions published by the Home Office include: “Which landmark is a prehistoric monument which still stands in the English county of Wiltshire?” and “What is the name of the admiral who died in a sea battle in 1805 and has a monument in Trafalgar Square, London?”
The government justified ditching the old test introduced by the erstwhile Labour government saying it did not encourage would-be citizens to learn about British history.
“We’ve stripped out mundane information about water meters, how to find train timetables, and using the internet. The new book rightly focuses on values and principles at the heart of being British. Instead of telling people how to claim benefits it encourages participation in British life,” said Immigration Minister Mark Harper.