An opportunity for Cornwall councillors make the case for a devolved Cornish Parliament, rather than mere ‘accommodations’ with central government.

Cornish history, identity and language emerged from the early Celtic Britons

That still comes as a surprise to many, and in some instances invokes anger and resentment towards a Cornish nation that’s not content on being assimilated.

Although Cornish identity survived the Roman invasion, it was the later Anglo-Saxon invasion and the emergence of an English state that was to marginalise Cornwall, Cornish history and erode the Cornish language that culminated in the Cornish rising of 1549 against the imposition of an English-language prayer book.

The reprisals were bloody and brutal; many Cornish prisoners were slaughtered for defending their mother-tongue. It was in 2007 that Bishop Bill Ind, speaking on behalf of the church, apologised for the actions that had “brutally and stupidly killed many Cornish people, it had been an enormous mistake”.


In 2002, after much political lobbying, the Cornish language was officially recognised. Later, in 2014, Cornish identity was also formally recognised by the UK government. When considering the upheavals of the past, these were no mean achievements – but the assimilation continues. Cornish history (as taught in context with its progression throughout British history) and also the Cornish language, remain ‘non-statutory’ subjects, and therefore not formally taught in Cornish schools.

The local media too, much of it based across the Tamar, tells Cornish people that they live not in Cornwall, but in the ‘West country’ and ‘South West’.

Similarly, the UK’s formal recognition of Cornish identity stated: “It now affords [the Cornish] the same status as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish”. However Cornwall, unlike the other Celtic nations, doesn’t have Cornish Parliament.

What next for Cornwall?

The much-lauded ‘Mayor for Cornwall’ has been dropped following a public consultation. Opposition parties said the idea of a mayor was “toxic” and a “lame duck”.

Mebyon Kernow campaigns for a Cornish Parliament, and is clear that while a Parliament doesn’t mean an ‘Independent’ Cornwall, it would return Cornwall as a nation in its own right, with devolution similar to Wales and Scotland, rather than a ‘unit of England’.

MK has tabled a motion to the next Full Council at the unitary authority meeting (18th April) which already has cross-party support. Included in the motion:

We, the undersigned, are therefore disappointed at the content of the “devolution deal”, which principally represents accommodations between central government and Cornwall’s unitary authority, rather than a meaningful devolution settlement as achieved in Wales and Scotland.

Cornwall Council resolves to inform the UK Government that we wish to commence negotiations for more meaningful devolution settlement similar to those enjoyed in the other Celtic parts of the UK (ie. a National Assembly of Cornwall or Cornish Parliament).

Professor Phillip Payton (Cornwall A History) ‘The political, socio-economic and cultural behaviour has reached where Cornwall is becoming increasingly at variance with England, has seen a growing need for devolution; not from a England-style Mayor, but through a Cornish parliament similar to that of Wales and Scotland’.

An opportunity for Cornwall councillors make the case for a devolved Cornish Parliament, rather than mere ‘accommodations’ with central government.

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