One of the members of our Facebook group UK Citizens In The EU asked the question
“do you think the cultural bonds between the UK and continental Europe are stronger than those between the UK and the rest of the Anglosphere (US, Australia, NZ, Canada), or viceversa?”
That started me thinking about Britain and Europe and why we have this scratchy antagonistic relationship with the EU.
Over the centuries the Britain hasn’t really been part of Europe politically/culturally and that goes someway to explain why the British public is inherently sceptical about Europe.
We don’t have the shared experiences that many European countries do, invasion, revolution, dictatorships. Nor have we been invaded and had our boundaries redrawn by war, annexation and treaties. The last time anybody invade Britain is nearly a thousand years ago, if you accept the Normans invaded as opposed to coming to collect their inheritance.
As a seafaring, trading nation our focus was elsewhere and Britain probably more than any other country in the world has had its culture and heritage shaped by where that seafaring, trading tradition took us. It has shaped our language, the food we eat, our diverse culture.
Since the early part of the 20th Century that has changed, in part due to two World Wars, in part due to the change from a British Empire to a Commonwealth of Nations.
Even as recently as the 1960’s very few British people had been to the continent other than as part of the armed forces.
In the past 20 years though there has been a dramatic change as more and more people have taken advantage of the EU’s 4 Freedoms to live, work, study and play in the rest of the EU.
I don’t think there is a single answer to the question it will depend on the people you speak to. For me, living in France, I think Europe, certainly western Europe, is culturally “closer” But others I know would say they have stronger links with Africa or New Zealand for example. Yet others would say that anything outside Britain is strange, different and unlike their culture.