Morris dancers call for reversal of decision to move next year’s May Day

Morris dancers have gathered in Westminster to protest against the early May bank holiday being moved back four days next year to coincide with the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

VE Day, or Victory in Europe Day, is marked on May 8 and commemorates the Allies accepting the surrender of Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

The May Day bank holiday is traditionally held on a Monday but will be put back to the Friday and form part of a three-day weekend of commemorative events.

Bank holiday changes
Bank holiday changes

A group of Morris dancers, protesting a short distance from where Boris Johnson was announced as the new Tory leader, are calling for the change to be reversed.

Liz Whatling, the squire of the Westrefelda Morris in Suffolk, told the PA news agency: “I think it should be changed back because our traditions do matter, they do count and they do make us what we are.

“May Day is an important moment for us in the year and our weekend that comes straight after that is what we wait for throughout our whole winter practice.

“And I just think to move it, to something like VE Day, takes the shine off VE Day, so why can’t we have both?

Bank holiday changes
Bank holiday changes

“Why can’t we just have both and make everyone happy?”

The group of dancers, dressed in traditional costume, performed opposite the Palace of Westminster.

Ms Whatling held a sign which said: “Don’t mess with May Day.”

The announcement in June followed events across the UK and France to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

As part of the VE Day commemorations, more than 20,000 pubs will encourage drinkers to toast the heroes of the war while churches will take part in a Ringing Out For Peace.

Bank holiday changes
Bank holiday changes

The bank holiday will move in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but not necessarily in Scotland as bank holidays are devolved to Holyrood.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said moving the bank holiday was a “right and fitting tribute”.

The May Day bank holiday has only ever been moved once before, when it was shifted from May 1 to May 8 in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of VE Day.