It all depends on which definition you chose for “race” itself.
Britain had a very small population of nomads who could no longer live in what is modern day Britain as the temperature plummeted during the Ice Age.
It was not until 12,000 years ago that the Ancient Britons, Celts and Picts were among the most ancient settlers of the British Isles and they came from not only what we call continental Europe today, but from as far away as Africa. It was not until 6100 BC that the British Isles broke away from Europe with the formation of todays English Channel.
They were followed by the Romans in the first century AD, although their contribution to British stock is thought to be minimal, they did leave a cultural legacy in lifestyle.
The Romans quit Britannia, in the 5th century AD, making way for a succession of invasions by the Jutes, the Angles and the Saxons.
These three tribes, which settled mainly in southern England, were all Germanic people descending from parts of Denmark and what is now northern Germany.
Some 400 years later came the next wave, this time it was the Vikings. These pagan Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish warriors settled large tracts of what they called Bretland, including Shetland, Orkney, Northumbria and East Anglia.
Next up came the Normans, who were themselves descendants of the Vikings that had settled in northern France. Incidentally this is where my family came from with Baron De Gorges (original spelling of my surname), who came over with William Duke of Normandy in 1066. Needless to say, we and the other Normans stayed right through to today.
In the thousand years since the Norman Conquest of 1066, there have been several other tides of settlement including a band of about 100,000 Huguenots fleeing persecution from France in the late 17th century.
The 19th century saw an influx of Jews and Irish. Following World War II many German and Italian PoWs stayed on in the UK and their communities are still very evident today, like the Italian one in Bedford.
Post-war 20th century Britain opened its doors to Poles, Indians, West Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Ugandan Asians and Chinese. Indeed actively encouraged them to come to do the work that the British worker did not want to do – Public Transport, Busses, Trains, Underground etc.
Do today’s asylum seekers, who have come in from Eastern Europe and further afield, represent another step forward in Britain’s long history of multiculturalism?
Opinion may be divided but what is certain is that when it comes to ethnic purity, Britishness is not the simple answer that many in the hard right Nationalistic elements of our society would have it to be.
I would highly recommend Dr Sam Willis’ BBC mini series ‘Invasion’ and BRIT(ish) by Afua Hirsch for further reading