With only 30 days until the EU referendum, a common feeling has come up from the Eurosceptics, such as Boris Johnson. Are we European? Do we stick out like a sore thumb among our EU counterparts who are more ‘European’ than us?
I believe that this is derived from the fact that there is sea between us and the rest of Europe, the English Channel, whilst the rest of Europe is connected through one big land mass. Likewise, most of Europe is connected through the Schengen Area and the euro, making it easier to travel and work between different countries on ‘the mainland’. There is also a feeling, wrongly, I believe, that we share a different history and that we are closer to America. This may be true in that we loosely share a language and watch a lot of each other’s TV, but does that make us more American, as Johnson suggests?
Maybe I’m biased because my mum is German-Italian and my dad is British. I’ve always seen myself as dual-national, Italian-British: with my heritage being so deep rooted in Europe, the idea of a ‘United States of Europe’ appeals to me because it would cut down on passports and I feel more ‘European’ than ‘British’. However, I don’t feel more ‘European’ on my mum’s side. It’s my British, dad’s side I do.
This is not only due to the very far back heritage of French, but it comes from the names of our country. In England, Eurosceptism is stronger compared to the more Celtic and Gaelic (therefore more ‘native’ than European) Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, shown in most polls. Yet, the word England is derived from the word Angleland, as in the land of the Angles, from Germany. We had a long period of time (c.500-1066) of being the ‘Anglo-Saxons’ – settlers from Germany. Our name is German. Not to mention the Norman conquest, our extensive and furious history with France. The invasion of the Vikings and their long standing influence in our culture (mainly curse words). If we were to go even further back, to the Roman period, we have Latin in us. Our great nation that we are so proud to be, British – or rather, Britain – comes from the Latin word for our country, Britannia.
Even more historically, monarchies across Europe are so interbred that if you were to look at Tsar Nicholas II, Kaiser Wilhelm II and our own King George V side by side, it is clear that they come from the same extended family.
Our history is so connected to Europe that is is difficult and naive to claim otherwise.
So, no, I do not think we have a closer relationship with the USA that we would be able to expand if we were to leave the EU. I don’t believe we’re not as ‘European’ as the rest of Europe. If anything, due to the fact that we have been invaded over and over again by our European neighbours, we’re more European than the mainland. I know that in Italy, for instance, if you were to trace your heritage it would typically be consistently Italian with very little foreign blood. Here in the UK, to be British, more so in England, means to have a lot of European blood.
We are fundamentally European, in our history, in our name, in our language, in our monarchy, and in ourselves. We cannot base our EU referendum on feeling more ‘British’ than ‘European’. We are stronger in the EU, Europe is our family and we should stay united.
Don’t forget to vote on the 23rd June, 30 days!