The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK), also known as the United Kingdom or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the northwestern coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the northeastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands.
- Dear land of hope, thy hope is crowned! God make thee mightier yet... By truth maintained, thine empire shall be strong... Land of hope and glory, mother of the free! How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee? God, who made thee mighty? Make thee mightier yet.
- These are some of the first principles of natural law & Justice, and the great Barriers of all free states, and of the British Constitution in particular. It is utterly irreconcilable to these principles, and to many other fundamental maxims of the common law, common sense and reason, that a British house of commons, should have a right, at pleasure, to give and grant the property of the Colonists. That these Colonists are well entitled to all the essential rights, liberties and privileges of men and freemen, born in Britain, is manifest, not only from the Colony charter, in general, but acts of the British Parliament…. Had the Colonists a right to return members to the British parliament, it would only be hurtful; as from their local situation and circumstances it is impossible they should be ever truly and properly represented there. The inhabitants of this country in all probability in a few years will be more numerous, than those of Great Britain and Ireland together; yet it is absurdly expected by the promoters of the present measures, that these, with their posterity to all generations, should be easy while their property shall be disposed of by a house of commons at three thousand miles distant from them...
- The twentieth century saw Britain having to redefine its place in the world. At the beginning of the century, it commanded a world-wide empire as the foremost global power. Two world wars and the end of empire diminished its role, but the UK remains an economic and military power, with considerable political and cultural influence around the world. Britain was the world's first industrialized country. Its economy remains one of the largest, but it has for many years been based on service industries rather than on manufacturing.
- British Broadcasting Corporation, "United Kingdom country profile: Overview" (14 May 2015), BBC News, United Kingdom
- Some talk of Alexander, and some of Hercules. Of Hector and Lysander, and such great names as these. But of all the world's great heroes, there's none that can compare with the tow-row-row-row-row-row of the British grenadiers!
- "The British Grenadiers" (1750)
- Britain is blessed with a functioning political culture. It is dominated by people who live in London and who have often known each other since prep school. This makes it gossipy and often incestuous.
- I am constantly filled with admiration at this – at the way you can wander through a town like Oxford and in the space of a few hundred yards pass the home of Christopher Wren, the buildings where Halley found his comet and Boyle his first law, the track where Roger Banister ran the first sub-four minute mile, the meadow where Lewis Carroll strolled; or how you can stand on Snow's Hill at Windsor and see, in a single sweep, Windsor Castle, the playing fields of Eton, the churchyard where Gray wrote his 'Elegy,' the site The Merry Wives of Windsor was first performed. Can there anywhere on earth be, in such a modest span, a landscape more packed with centuries of busy, productive attainment?
- The sound of modern Britain is a complex harmony, not a male voice choir.
- David Cameron, speech aimed at Liberal Democrats: join me in my mission (16 December 2005)
- I want to help try and build a more responsible society here in Britain, one where we don't just ask what are my entitlements but what are my responsibilities, one where we don't ask what am I just owed but more what can I give, and a guide for that society that those that can should and those who can't we will always help.
- David Cameron, first speech as Prime Minister, at 10 Downing Street (11 May 2010)
- I have always said that if Great Britain were defeated in war I hoped we should find a Hitler to lead us back to our rightful position among the nations. I am sorry, however, that he has not been mellowed by the great success that has attended him. The whole world would rejoice to see the Hitler of peace and tolerance, and nothing would adorn his name in world history so much as acts of magnanimity and of mercy and of pity to the forlorn and friendless, to the weak and poor. … Let this great man search his own heart and conscience before he accuses anyone of being a warmonger.
- Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonour. They chose dishonour. They will have war.
- We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the Old.
- Winston Churchill, speech in the House of Commons (4 June 1940)
- When I warned them that Britain would fight on alone whatever they did, their generals told their Prime Minister and his divided Cabinet, 'In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken'. Some chicken! Some neck!
- British democracy approves the principles of movable party heads and unwaggable national tails.
- Winston Churchill, address to a joint session of Congress, Washington, D.C. (17 January 1952); reported in Winston S. Churchill: His Complete Speeches, 1897–1963, ed. Robert Rhodes James (1974), vol. 8, p. 8,326
- ...the twelve or fifteen millions in the British Empire, who, while they possess no electoral rights, are yet persuaded they are freemen, and who are mystified into the notion that they are not political bondmen, by that great juggle of the ‘English Constitution’—a thing of monopolies, and Church-craft, and sinecures, armorial hocus-pocus, primogeniture, and pageantry!
- Richard Cobden, letter to F. Cobden (11 September 1838), quoted in John Morley, The Life of Richard Cobden (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1905), p. 130
- Look at England, whose mighty power is now felt, and for centuries has been felt, all around the world. It is worthy of special remark, that precisely those parts of that proud island which have received the largest and most diversified populations, are to day the parts most distinguished for industry, enterprise, invention and general enlightenment. In Wales, and in the Highlands of Scotland the boast is made of their pure blood, and that they were never conquered, but no man can contemplate them without wishing they had been conquered. They are far in the rear of every other part of the English realm in all the comforts and conveniences of life, as well as in mental and physical development. Neither law nor learning descends to us from the mountains of Wales or from the Highlands of Scotland. The ancient Briton, whom Julius Caesar would not have as a slave, is not to be compared with the round, burly, amplitudinous Englishman in many of his qualities of desirable manhood.
- Five generations ago, Britain was ashamed to write books in her own tongue. Now her language is spoken in all quarters of the globe.
- The British monarchy inculcates unthinking credulity and servility. It forms a heavy layer on the general encrustation of our unreformed political institutions. It is the gilded peg from which our unlovely system of social distinction and hierarchy depends. It is an obstacle to the objective public discussion of our own history. It tribalises politics. It entrenches the absurdity of the hereditary principle. It contributes to what sometimes looks like an enfeeblement of the national intelligence, drawing from our press and even from some of our poets the sort of degrading and abnegating propaganda that would arouse contempt if displayed in Zaire or Romania. It is, in short, neither dignified nor efficient...
The United States, for example, has never had a President as bad as George III, but neither has Britain had a king as admirable as George Washington (of whom William Thackeray rightly said that 'his glory will descend to remotest ages' while the memory of the sovereign went the other way).
- Christopher Hitchens, The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain's Favourite Fetish (1990), Random House
- In today's Britain, the idea that there could be a Constitution more powerful - and even sacrosanct - than any crowned head or elected politician (thus abolishing the false antithesis between hereditary monarchs and capricious presidents) is thought of as a breathtakingly new and daring idea...
Too many crucial things about this country turn out to be highly recommended because they are 'invisible'. There is the 'hidden hand' of the free market, the 'unwritten' Constitution, the 'invisible earnings' of the financial service sector, the 'magic' of monarchy and the 'mystery' of the Church and its claim to the interpretation of revealed truth. When we do get as far as the visible or the palpable, too much of it is deemed secret. How right it is that senior ministers, having kissed hands with the monarch, are sworn to the cult of secrecy by 'The Privy Council Oath'. How right it is that our major foreign alliance - the 'special relationship' with the United States - is codified by no known treaty and regulated by no known Parliamentary instrument.
- Christopher Hitchens, The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain's Favourite Fetish (1990), Chatto Counterblasts
- Deep is the primitive belief that it is the Anglo-Saxons, more than the CIA, more even than the Jews, who are the puppet masters of everything that happens in Iran.
- In addition to relative indifference to the fate of the euro area, Britain is more protected because of speculation the central bank may intervene directly to finance the debt ... Europe is not a cash box, let alone a cashpoint...
The British have been particularly shy about the issues of financial regulation, and attentive only to the interests of the City – hence their reluctance to see the introduction of a tax on financial transactions and tax harmonisation in Europe.
- We shall form to the American union a barrier against the dangerous extension of the British.
- The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, & what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusetts? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of its motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness.
- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to William S. Smith (13 November 1787), The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd, vol. 12, p. 356 (1955)
- Great Britain is a republic with a hereditary president, while the United States is a monarchy with an elective king.
- There is no doubt that the treacherous attack has confirmed that Britain and America are acting on behalf of Israel and the Jews, paving the way for the Jews to divide the Muslim world once again, enslave it and loot the rest of its wealth.
- The European Union and many of its countries, which used to take initiatives in the United Nations for peaceful settlements of conflict, are now one of the most important war assets of the U.S./NATO front. Many countries have also been drawn into complicity in breaking international law through U.S./U.K./NATO wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and so on.
- Mairead Maguire in "The Disturbing Expansion of the Military-Industrial Complex", Common Dreams (14 October 2014)
- The British tourist is always happy abroad as long as the natives are waiters.
- We were wrong to believe that the British are our friends. You are obsessed solely with your own selfish interests and treat us as a people beyond the pale. But your attitude is a matter of profound disinterest. Your democratic system has already erupted into chaos. We shall soon overtake you and in a decade you will be struggling in our wake. Perhaps then you will remember how you treated us.
- Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, as quoted in The Shah and I (1991), by Asadollah Alam, I. B. Tauris, p. 237
- But where says some is the King of America? I'll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve as monarchy, that in America the law is king.
- The position of the United Kingdom is as usual so nuanced that it's difficult to see where they are on the spectrum, but look, that's what Britain's like...
- His expedition against the Britanni was celebrated for its daring. For he was the first to launch a fleet upon the western ocean and to sail through the Atlantic sea carrying an army to wage war. The island was of incredible magnitude, and furnished much matter of dispute to multitudes of writers, some of whom averred that its name and story had been fabricated, since it never had existed and did not then exist and in his attempt to occupy it he carried the Roman supremacy beyond the confines of the inhabited world
- Most countries are founded in conquest. Europe, conquest, conquest and more conquest. Look at Britain. Before becoming an empire, it was conquered by the Norman kings of France and earlier by the Romans.
- Britain still thinks it's 1999.
- The quickest way to understand modern Britain is to look at what LBJ’s Great Society did to the black family and imagine it applied to the general population.
- We shall have to learn again to be one nation, or one day we shall be no nation.
- And I will go on criticising Socialism, and opposing Socialism because it is bad for Britain – and Britain and Socialism are not the same thing. (...) It’s the Labour Government that have brought us record peace-time taxation. They’ve got the usual Socialist disease – they’ve run out of other people’s money.
- My job is to stop Britain going red.
- Margaret Thatcher, Statement (3 November 1977)
- Madame Chairman, I presume this as to enable us to sweep Britain clean of Socialism.
- Margaret Thatcher, At a Tory party conference, holding a brush. (date unknown)
- I can't bear Britain in decline. I just can't.
- Margaret Thatcher, Interviewed by Michael Cockerell for BBC TV's Campaign '79 (27 April, 1979).
- We are not asking for a penny piece of Community money for Britain. What we are asking is for a very large amount of our own money back, over and above what we contribute to the Community, which is covered by our receipts from the Community.
- I am sure you will agree that, in Britain with our democratic institutions and the need for a high degree of consent, some of the measures adopted in Chile are quite unacceptable. Our reform must be in line with our traditions and our Constitution. At times the process may seem painfully slow. But I am certain we shall achieve our reforms in our own way and in our own time. Then they will endure.
- I came to office with one deliberate intent: to change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society – from a give-it-to-me, to a do-it-yourself nation. A get-up-and-go, instead of a sit-back-and-wait-for-it Britain.
- In a decision of the utmost gravity, Labour voted to give up Britain's independent nuclear deterrent unilaterally. Labour's defence policy – though "defence" is scarcely the word—is an absolute break with the defence policy of every British Government since the Second World War. Let there be no doubt about the gravity of that decision. You cannot be a loyal member of NATO while disavowing its fundamental strategy. A Labour Britain would be a neutralist Britain. It would be the greatest gain for the Soviet Union in forty years. And they would have got it without firing a shot.
- Mr. Chairman, you have invited me to speak on the subject of Britain and Europe. Perhaps I should congratulate you on your courage. If you believe some of the things said and written about my views on Europe, it must seem rather like inviting Genghis Khan to speak on the virtues of peaceful coexistence! ...The European Community is one manifestation of that European identity, but it is not the only one. We must never forget that east of the Iron Curtain, peoples who once enjoyed a full share of European culture, freedom and identity have been cut off from their roots. We shall always look on Warsaw, Prague and Budapest as great European cities...To try to suppress nationhood and concentrate power at the centre of a European conglomerate would be highly damaging and would jeopardise the objectives we seek to achieve. Europe will be stronger precisely because it has France as France, Spain as Spain, Britain as Britain, each with its own customs, traditions and identity. It would be folly to try to fit them into some sort of identikit European personality...it is ironic that just when those countries such as the Soviet Union, which have tried to run everything from the centre, are learning that success depends on dispersing power and decisions away from the centre, there are some in the Community who seem to want to move in the opposite direction. We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain, only to see them re-imposed at a European level with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels.
- No theory of government was ever given a fairer test or a more prolonged experiment in a democratic country than democratic socialism received in Britain. Yet it was a miserable failure in every respect. Far from reversing the slow relative decline of Britain vis-à-vis its main industrial competitors, it accelerated it. We fell further behind them, until by 1979 we were widely dismissed as 'the sick man of Europe'...To cure the British disease with socialism was like trying to cure leukaemia with leeches.
- Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (1993), pp. 7-8.
- The significance of the Falklands War was enormous, both for Britain's self-confidence and for our standing in the world...We had come to be seen by both friends and enemies as a nation which lacked the will and the capability to defend its interests in peace, let alone in war. Victory in the Falklands changed that. Everywhere I went after the war, Britain's name meant something more than it had. The war also had real importance in relations between East and West: years later I was told by a Russian general that the Soviets had been firmly convinced that we would not fight for the Falklands, and that if we did fight we would lose. We proved them wrong on both counts, and they did not forget the fact.
- Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (1993), pp. 173-4.
- Not that this appears to affect the intentions of the political-bureaucratic elite, which in Britain as elsewhere in Europe believes that it has an overriding mission to achieve European integration by hook or by crook and which is convinced that History (with an extra-large 'H') is on its side.
- Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (1993), pp. 388
- We're leaving Downing Street for the last time after eleven-and-a-half wonderful years, and we're very happy that we leave the United Kingdom in a very, very much better state than when we came here eleven and a half years ago.
- When Britain first, at heaven's command,
Arose from out of the azure main,
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sung this strain:
“Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
Britons never will be slaves.”
- James Thomson, Alfred: a Masque, II, V.
- The British have always fought, to be sure. No nation on Earth can be taken seriously in historical circles unless it has had at least one war with the British; it's like not having an American Express card. And yet the very idea of Britain in a contemporary war is a shock. Britain, one feels, fights in history books and not on TV.
- Gene Wolfe, "A Few Points About knife Throwing", Fantasy Newsletter (1983), as reprinted in Gene Wolfe, Castle of Days (1992)