MCALLEN, Texas – A “pop-up” British Consulate’s Office is going to be open for a couple of hours in McAllen on Tuesday, Aug. 24, and Brownsville on Wednesday, Aug. 25.

The events are part of the Great British Tour of Texas, organized by the British Consulate in Houston. 

“We are going to park up the Jag and the trailer and put out a whole bunch of bunting, some flags, a cardboard cutout of Winston Churchill, a nodding Queen Elizabeth and a few other bits and pieces,” said Richard Hyde, the British Consulate General for Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

“We are going to have some 6 O’clock Gin, which is a new British gin brand, some Pimm’s, shortbread. We want to come over and have a chat, talk to businesses. Local politicians and mayors are going to drop by. We are basically going to meet people and talk a little bit about the U.K., and learn a little bit about McAllen and Brownsville.”

Hyde and his team have also visited Midland, Odessa, El Paso, Las Cruces, Van Horn, Marfa, Terlingua, Langtry, and Laredo on the tour. Still be visited are Kingsville, Corpus Christi and Shiner.

Richard Hyde

The visit to McAllen takes place at Quinta Mazatlán between 4:00 p.m. and 6 p.m. The Brownsville location has still to be announced but a visit to SpaceX at Boca Chica is expected.

“You can’t live in Houston and pretend to understand the politics, the culture, the commerce, the people of Texas because there is such great diversity. We have been determined since I arrived to actually get out and go into the rural and the smaller cities,” Hyde told the Rio Grande Guardian.

Hyde said he spends most of his time shuttling between the major Texas metropolitan areas of Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. However, he said he knows there is a lot more to Texas than those four cities.

“If the UK wants to deepen our trading relationship we need to understand there are a range of opportunities in different markets.”

But for Covid-19, the Great British Tour of Texas would have taken in a lot more of the state, including West Texas, North Texas and the Panhandle, Hyde explained. He said it had to be paired back and the decision was made to focus on the border region.

“The focus (of the tour) is exclusively on now the areas of the state, a) that are harder to reach but b) that are predominately or increasingly Hispanic and outlook,” Hyde said.

“If you look at the United States and look at where the growth is in the United States, it is in the Sun Belt, from the Gulf Coast all the way to Arizona, Phoenix and those kinds of places. It is no coincidence that within that Sun Belt the fastest growing population group are Hispanics.”

Hyde said the U.K. has to pay more attention to the growing Hispanic influence in the United States.

“If the U.K. wants to remain relevant to the next generation of Americans, we can’t simply trade on our past, we can’t trade on the fact that we fought wars together in the 20th Century, that we have a shared love of the same music, the TV and the Crown, and James Bond and Winston Churchill,” Hyde said.

“All those are great things to celebrate. But they are not relevant and don’t resonate with this growing Hispanic community who look south for their cultural context. They look south for their history. They don’t look east to the old European nations. So, if we are going to remain relevant in the United States, and are going to remain that partner of choice and have that special relationship, we have to get out there. We have to engage with people now.”

Editor’s Note: Here is the Rio Grande Guardian’s interview with Richard Hyde before the Great British Tour of Texas had reached Laredo:

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