Brown lifts Union Jack restrictions

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LONDON (Agence France-Presse) — The Union Jack was flying over Downing Street yesterday after new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown tore up a “ridiculous” rule on when it could be flown on public buildings.

Mr. Brown jettisoned the regulations that allowed it to be flown on government buildings no more than 18 days each year, and said it was now up to public offices to decide when they wanted to fly Britain’s national flag.

Regarded by some as an attempt by the Scot to boost his credentials with English voters, Mr. Brown has made celebrating Britishness one of his regular themes.

The Union Flag, commonly known as the Union Jack, combines the flags of England, Scotland and Ireland.

“When I came in to be prime minister, I was looking at all the rules that exist,” Mr. Brown told GMTV television. “We had a very strange rule for decades that said you can’t fly the Union Jack more than 18 days a year.

“It was because they listed the number of public events and on no other days would the Union Jack be flown. We thought it was a ridiculous rule,” Mr. Brown said.

“People are very proud of the symbols of what it is to be British,” he said.

Mr. Brown also vowed to take his forthcoming summer holiday in rainy Britain rather than jet off to sunnier climes — in contrast to his predecessor, Tony Blair, who was famous for taking holidays in places like Tuscany and Barbados.

“We have got two very young children and I’m looking forward to a relatively quiet holiday at home, part of it in England, part of it in Scotland,” Mr. Brown told British Broadcasting Corp. television.

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