THE union flag is part of Britain's "iconic brand" and should be kept out of politics, the Welsh secretary said today, hours before new guidance from Westminster encouraged the flag to be flown year-round on government buildings.

Simon Hart said the UK's flag was one of the most recognisable in the world, adding that he disagreed with it being used for political purposes.

The union of the four nations "isn't a political party" and the flag shouldn't be thought of as "part of political weaponry," he added.

This afternoon, hours after Mr Hart's comments, culture secretary Oliver Dowden announced the union flag should be flown on UK government buildings every day.

Previously, the flag was only required to be flown on designated days including the the Queen's birthday (April 21) and Coronation Day (June 2).

Mr Dowden said the policy change to year-round flag-flying was "a proud reminder of our history and the ties that bind us".

The guidance applies to Wales, England and Scotland from the summer. Flag-flying in Northern Ireland is subject to other legislation.

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The flying of the union flag made headlines last week, when two TV presenters were criticised for referencing the size of local government secretary Robert Jenrick's flag during an interview.

The BBC said the comment was meant as "light-hearted" and inoffensive, but following complaints the two presenters had been "reminded of their responsibilities".

Following the culture secretary's announcement, Mr Jenrick called on "all local councils" in England to fly the union flag, which he described as "a symbol of liberty, unity and freedom that creates a shared sense of civic pride".

He said people "rightly expect" to see the flag flying over civic and government buildings across the UK "as a sign of our local and national identity".