I have written to the Secretary of State for Business, Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, urging him not to cancel the Early May Bank Holiday in order to supplant it with a commemorative bank holiday for VE Day.
Let me be clear: I absolutely support the introduction of a bank holiday to commemorate VE Day. This was a seminal day in our history as a nation. It represents Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender and the victory of the Allied Forces against Fascism. It is vitally important that we remember the sacrifice that Allied soldiers made to achieve peace and freedom for Europe. A bank holiday is a brilliant idea, but it need not mean the loss of an already existing one.
The Early May Bank Holiday is a special occasion for a lot of people. It signifies the beginning of the summer, and has strong associations with the Maypole and Morris Dancing, the latter of which has over 2000 years of British history behind it. Morris men and women will march on Parliament and tell the Government that moving the Bank Holiday will mean the cancellation of thousands of events and festivals that provide millions of growth for our economy.
The Sweeps Festival in Rochester, Kent, is expecting an attendance of 150,000 people, and is due to generate £60 million for the local economy. Not only would this be a financial loss, but it would be a deep loss to English culture.
I am calling on the Government to retain the placement of the Early May Bank Holiday and bring in a bank holiday for VE Day. Beyond the cultural and historical arguments, this is financial common sense. It is cheaper to have two bank holidays than depriving local economies of much needed investment.