Holy Grail of UK citizenship: New test poses Monty Python puzzlers
The ‘Life in the United Kingdom’ test and accompanying handbook will be aimed at migrants wanting to settle permanently in the UK who already speak English to a high level. It is intended to encourage participation in all aspects of British life, but completely passes over questions based on more practical knowledge.
Those sitting the test will be expected to have detailed knowledge of all the cultural intricacies at the ‘heart of being British’. The UK Home Office’s list of sample questions requires knowledge of traditional British holiday customs, patron saints, and locations of historic landmarks.
Foreigners angling for the right to reside in the UK will also be expected to learn about all aspects of British culture, from how to deal with trick-or-treaters at Halloween to comedy acts such as Monty Python and the Two Ronnies. Meanwhile duller, more routine questions regarding water meters and job interviews have all been phased out.
The new 45-minute exam features questions such as “At her jubilee in 2012, how many years as queen did Queen Elizabeth II celebrate? A: 20 B: 40 C: 50” and “What flower is traditionally worn by people on Remembrance Day? A. Poppy B. Lily C. Daffodil D. Iris”. The quiz will be issued effective March this year. All those wishing to gain British citizenship will have to take it. A score of 75 per cent from 24 questions will be the pass mark.
However, at least part of the intention behind it could be to reduce the numbers of immigrants entering the UK.
Minister for Immigration Mark Harper said on the Home Office website that they “have made radical changes to the immigration system and are determined to reduce net migration from the hundreds of thousands into the tens of thousands by the end of the Parliament. The latest figures show these reforms are working, with net migration falling by a quarter in the last year.”
Under-selling to Eastern Europe
Alongside the announcement of the new test, potential immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania may no longer appreciate the opportunity to attempt the broad-reaching series of questions, as simultaneous plans are announced to launch a "negative advertising campaign" which one minister said would “correct the impression that the streets here are paved with gold,” according to The Guardian.
Instead, it will focus on the downsides of British life – perhaps the excessive rain, lack of jobs, or expensive public transport costs.
However, the idea comes in contrast with recent PR efforts which include the billions of pounds Britain spent on the Olympics or the Home Office launching a guide to ‘Britishness’ for potential citizens that opens with the phrase: “Britain is a fantastic place to live: A modern thriving society.”
The move comes after Conservative party MP Philip Hollobone claimed that the Romanian and Bulgarian communities in the UK will treble to 425,000 within two years.
Overall, more than 150,000 ‘Life in the UK’ tests were taken nationally last year.
Don Flynn of The Migrants' Rights Network told the BBC that the test was “like an entry examination for an elite public school,” and reiterated criticisms that have been aired over how relevant naturalization procedures are to the adoption of the British lifestyle.
However, the Home Office website declared that the measure will ensure “Britain continues to attract the brightest and the best migrants from across the world.” A spokesperson from the Scottish Refugee Council told Herald Scotland that the changes would make the test much harder for refugees to pass and called for the entire process to be reformed.