The UK government announced Thursday that the Cornish, one of the ancient peoples of the British isles who trace their roots back to prehistoric times, will be formally recognized – along with the Scots, Welsh and Irish – as a national minority.
The decision has been taken under a European convention to protect the rights of national minorities and means that they will have the same rights and protections as the UK’s more established nationalities: Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Thursday’s announcement comes after years of lobbying and the submission of two formal reports to Westminster seeking minority status.
There were also concerns that policies affecting Cornwall were being made in London, such as government plans to charge VAT on hot Cornish pasties, dubbed the “pasty tax” in 2012, which went ahead despite protests.
“We are absolutely elated,” said Dick Cole, the leader of Mebyon Kernow, the Cornish Nationalist Party.“The fact that Cornish culture, language and identity are now formally a national minority on a par with the Welsh, Scots and Irish is fantastic. We shall savor the moment,” he told the Independent.
The Cornish Nationalist Party is seeking to form a Cornish national assembly on the lines of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh National Assembly, although the British government has no plans to grant permission for this.