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I'm not so sure. Having moved to Europe I'm finding I'm readjusting some attitudes, sometimes in surprising ways.

I think even nominal pro-Europeans in the UK tend to think of Europe as "That place with the quaint history and the tourist amenities we go on holiday to."

There's comparatively little sense of Europe as an industrial or scientific base, never mind an economic one. FT readers tend to have a broader view, but to most British people, Europe is a foreign country - somewhere essentially remote and other, with a slightly mysterious and probably backward-looking culture, because churches and castles and battles and stuff like that.

This is mostly the fault of the UK's media, which is relentlessly US-centric. A weather disaster in the US will make the headlines, while a weather disaster in France or Germany will barely merit a mention. The US presidential election gets huge coverage even though British people don't get a vote, while MEP elections get almost no coverage at all even though British people do.

And the older Boomer generation grew up with anti-German and anti-Russian war films which I'm sure have left many of them very confused about who our enemies are, and had a huge influence on Brexit voting.

So, generally the British don't see themselves as European, so much as a nation that might tolerate having European allies, as long as they behave themselves and don't get in the way of Empire.

There's a much closer sense of connection to the Anglosphere - although ironically it's not necessarily shared by the rest of the Anglosphere. (The US thinks of the UK in much the same way the UK thinks of Europe.)

Brexit has brought all of this to the surface. Britain, and especially the British establishment, simply doesn't think of Europe as anything other than a set of business opportunities made of multiple distantly related countries.

There's almost no sense of Europe as a political and economic entity in its own right. You could see this clearly when May went on her tour of Euro-leaders and tried to split them off one by one. She seemed genuinely surprised that this didn't work, and that this entity called "The EU" was likely to act as a unified whole.

The UK, meanwhile, has become a country without an identity. Brexit has revealed fault lines that were always there, but had always been suppressed by a kind of soft-liberal consensus.

The UK cannot negotiate Brexit - not just because Brexit is a political and economic impossibility for practical reasons, but because there is no longer any such country as "the UK". There are only squabbling interest groups with absolutely incompatible interests, which cannot be reconciled without eternal resentment and/or force.

I'm more sure than ever that a catastrophic No Deal is the plan, and always has been. One of those groups assumes this will allow it to take control of the country, but it's very likely indeed the outcome is going to be much messier than that.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Oct 18th, 2018 at 10:03:29 PM EST
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