Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
`Well what did we have two world wars for? Fun?'
Millions, if not billions of words have been written over the last three years about the causes of Brexit. A divided nation, areas left behind, the London bubble, all the rest of it. But the single biggest and simplest cause has a tendency to be overlooked, not least as so many people simply cannot stomach it.

It is a straightforward loathing of the European Union and its institutions, felt with furious intensity. It is a loathing that is deeply coloured by the Second World War. And yes, precious few people are still around who fought in it, but the postwar generation are profoundly shaped by it, and what it did to their parents' lives. There is a tendency for younger people to glibly overlook and devalue these fierce emotions. It is counterproductive.

"There is this feeling that we've lost our identity," Linda says. She is not young, but she is fiercely articulate. She is well-informed about politics, and she is anything but stupid. She spent 22 years working at Carl Zeiss research, the world-leading optical lens manufacturers.

"We were the postwar generation. My parents went through two world wars and they were horrified at the EU. Your identity is sapped out of you. And in the end, you don't feel any pride in your own country. It's our identity, and it will get worse and worse and worse."

There follows the usual schpiel about having nothing, having to work for everything, and about the younger generation just not getting it:

"As postwar children we had nothing, we only had what we worked for. You struggle and you get things," she says, beginning a story all too familiar to anyone who has seen The Four Yorkshiremen comedy sketch, which is itself 52 years old. "When you see what's happening now, all these youths, with their hats, and their sweatshirts, with Stussy on it. I had one come to my house to fix the boiler. He looked at my house and said, `You're lucky.' I said, `Luck had nothing to do with it.' It's all there for you to grab, but you have to grab it. I said, `Look at your trainers, they must be worth a hundred pounds.' We were lucky just to have a pair of shoes."

When asked what any this has to do with the European Union, she replies with real indignation. "Everything. Everything! It's got everything to do with the EU. We have gone without too much, to now be piled into a big melting pot with everybody else. We want our identity. It's what our forefathers worked for. The UK. England. It's ours. We don't want to be told, by them, what to do and what not to do, and paying a hell of a lot of money to do it. Everything is about them telling us, and our independence going. It's like an elderly couple, coming to the point at which they are asked, `Do you want help?' And they say `no'. We want our independence. And they'll slave on. They want their independence. It is an instinct."

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 9th, 2019 at 09:34:50 AM EST
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