THE people on morning TV are personally sweet, but always in a rush, and therefore can be a bit on the nose. “We’d love you to come on and talk about whether Scotland should support England against Germany in the Euros,” piped the researcher.

I gave my sincere spiel. “Well, I’ll be supporting England. I like Gareth Southgate’s intelligent, empathetic style. I like the multiracial image of England that the team represents. I feel a bit sorry that they usually choke and never fully realise their potential, with the shadow of 1966 falling over them, and all those expectations placed on the young players’ shoulders.”

I continued: “As a Scot, we shouldn’t be resenting England, but asking why other four-to-six-million strong small nations (sush as Croatia and Denmark) can get through the qualifiers and we can’t. I note they’re both independent nation states …”

I concluded: “If it comes to England vs Wales, then I’m a natural underdog supporter (you have to be when you’re a Scotland fan). So I would be backing Wales. But only by a nudge.”

READ MORE: Euro 2020: Who will fall at the next hurdle and who will make the last eight?

That should do it, I thought. There was a short online pause. “Actually, we’re looking for someone who definitely won’t be supporting England.” Sorry sweetheart: I’m not the blue-face-painted rabble-rouser you were looking for.

It doesn’t need an international football tournament to bring “the question of England” to the fore. That question being, currently and pre-eminently: what does Englishness mean, when post-Brexit Britishness has become so anxious, such a fetish? The Jack splattered on every available surface?

The National: Shakespeare

That inexhaustible English resource, Shakespeare, is relevant here. He might say that the advocates of Britishness “doth protest too much”. The neuroticism isn’t just sparked by these pesky democratic nation-regions, and their irritating policy mandates. How dare they disrupt the buccaneering of “Global Britain” and their deregulatory pitch to hungry investors!

I think it’s also a general discomfiture, even among the Johnsonian elites, about what to do with English identity.

The Euros fitba this year has become a very rich crucible for Englishness (and once we put Scotland’s ever-incremental progress in the drawer, it’s my top reason for supporting them). In the last few decades, nothing has unravelled the use of the English flag as a signifier of white identity more than the many black faces belting out God Save the Queen when the teams line up before kick-off.

But this year, their sheer presence has stepped up into confident advocacy. The 23-year-old Marcus Rashford’s pressure on the UK Government to improve its record on child hunger and homelessness has been robust. Add to that the England players continuing to “take the knee”, as a commitment to racial justice, with the British instigator of the practice, Tyrone Mings, leading the squad (thank God the Scotland squad finally made the right decision).

All of this is complemented by their fully-human manager, Gareth Southgate. In his public statements, Southgate has been hugely more capable of linking older and newer conceptions of Englishness, the monocultural past and the multicultural present and future, than any leading politician.

READ MORE: Euro 2020: Wales team taunts UK Government over One Britain One Nation Day

So taken together (and to be honest, for reasons that are little to do with the intrinsic football qualities of team and manager), I want this English side to stay in the competition. I want to keep what is a highly virtuous and beneficial spectacle going.

Because it’s working. Sunder Katwala, director of the think tank British Future, did some polling very recently and found that “three-quar­ters of people believe that English identity is open to those from differ­ent ethnic and faith groups – though 14% say you have to be white to be considered truly English.”

And even though there has been no Asian selections yet for the English national team, “two-thirds of Asian respond­ents believe the England team belongs to all ethnicities in England today”.

The National:

THERE’S no doubt the subtleties of English football culture, weaving through fans and players, pushes back against the UK Government’s attempts to create a “culture war” around “woke” attitudes.

The England squad’s knee-taking links them into the thinking and practice of Black Lives Matter. BLM explicitly connects today’s racial incidents and inequalities to historical crimes and exploitations, from empire and colonialism. This is exactly the connection that Tory arts ministers are running around trying to eradicate from major cultural institutions.

Again, Southgate is leagues more eloquent on this, but also thrillingly political: “I understand that on this island, we have a desire to protect our values and traditions – as we should – but that shouldn’t come at the expense of introspection and progress.”

This week, I caught up with a gentle, affecting online documentary from BBC3, about the rappers Krept and Konan. It followed them as they pulled together the England football anthem for this year (entitled “We Are England”).

So much to admire here, and to recognise, too. Krept sits on a park bench as his big-character dad offers him some bars, recalls the harsh terrace racism of his youth, and confesses his hopes that his son would be a footballer—“so you can lift me out of this council house!”.

Konan meets the aforementioned Tyrone Mings on a golf course. The charismatic England star tells him he’s created a programme (the Diversity Code) to get black players into management positions, after their career on the field is over. The rappers end up in the Beatles’s Abbey Road studio (where else?), laying down their performances over a full concert orchestra. Their lines incorporate Manchester slang from rapper Aitch (“just call everybody, ‘our kid’,” he recommends).

Eniola Aluko, a former striker with the England woman’s team, tells them: “For a long time, we had to be one or the other, but I’m alright with saying I’m both [English and Nigerian] … I’ve struggled with that for a long time because people question that you’re not fully English … But we’re multidimensional.”

READ MORE: Fury as Michael Gove quotes Proclaimers hit after Scotland defeat

I also read this week a fine essay from the veteran constitutional radical Anthony Barnett, entitled “Scotland must become independent, to end the corruption of our Great British state”. Anthony’s theme is that the Brexit vote was actually about agency, a sense of being able to act on your desires, rather than economics or immigration. And the real frustrated actor here, holds Barnett, was the English nation itself.

As a Remainer, Barnett wants to reach his hand over to Leavers. He hopes they’d both agree that: “Under Cameron we had charlatans led by a crook. Now we have crooks led by a charlatan. Instead, let’s free England and really start to take back control.”

Scotland’s fate is always in its own hands. But one thing it might externally depend on is an England that’s really starting to get beyond the post-imperial blues – one that values the complexities of its history and present reality. This might be better than diverting passions into the construct of Brexitannia, which is becoming more hysterical and fake everyday.

I would suggest that those consciously forging (and preparing for) a post-UK English identity should steer as close as possible to the spirit and practices of the England football team. If so, they will do little wrong, and a lot right.

One always wonders, in these unpredictable, post-conventional times, where the next set of leaders may come from. I propose that there’s a few of them already pounding the Astroturf at St George’s Park. Multidimensionally, indeed.