Blair Backs Blunkett on Debate; IDENTITY: Prime Minister Supports Home Secretary in Call for Ethnic Minority Groups to Fit In

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Byline: JANE MEYRICK

TONY Blair yesterday backed Home Secretary David Blunkett over his controversial call for ethnic minority groups to make more effort to fit in with the British national identity.

Mr Blunkett was "perfectly right" to open up a debate about immigration and naturalisation, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said.

Amid concerns from senior black and Asian figures that the Home Secretary was playing into the hands of racists. The British National Party said it would be using the remarks in its campaigning literature.

Ahead of publication today of four reports into riots in Burnley, Bradford and Oldham over the summer, Mr Blair's spokesman said it was wrong to pretend they did not happen and warned against political correctness.

Mr Blunkett sparked the row on Sunday when he said immigrants who settled in the UK had a duty to ensure their children and grandchildren grew up with a British identity.

He also held open the prospect of compulsory English lessons for new migrants and said practices like forced marriage and female circumcision should be rejected.

The reports today are expected to lay some of the blame for the violence on "self-segregation" of minority groups.

Mr Blair's official spokesman said, "The Prime Minister's view is that David Blunkett is absolutely right to be focusing on these issues and to be having a debate about them.

"It's a fact that three of our cities in the north of England went up in flames in the summer.

"There will be four reports published on this issue tomorrow. We can't pretend that this didn't happen and equally I don't think it's right to have some sort of self-imposed censorship on the grounds of political correctness. …