The last time I missed and regained the Britishness was in Berlin. I stayed in a hip hostel chain. I chose a women’s room for six people, because I wanted it as cheap as possible. Among others there were two English girls. Every guest had a kind of box under the bunk beds to slide out. While I was on the floor crouching and trying to find something, one of the English girls was standing next to me (the passage was narrow and I blocked her way) and waited until I was ready and she could go through. And still she said: “Sorry” to me, even though I was in the way. At that moment I remembered how it was to be British.
And now there are only a few days left until the EU referendum. I get a queasy feeling. What kind of changes will come upon us? I say “upon us” deliberately, because it will – in a manner of speaking – concern everyone in the EU, whether in a positive or negative sense.
I don’t want to speak about the advantages and disadvantages of a Brexit deliberately, the financial and global points that could possibly change. I am leaving this to those who do it the whole time anyway: the experts. I would rather talk about the human aspect. Dear Brits, look at our continent, why would you end such a neighbourhood friendship that worked for the most part. For over 70 years it is relatively peaceful in Europe and not without a reason. Because this is a website for the British-German friendship I think that this is clear.
And still I felt the ambivalence in England time and time again. “I was on holiday in Europe”, “On the continent/ main land…” All these phrases are harmless; still they indicate that for many Brits their country does not really belong to Europe. This attitude of the Brits didn’t change for decades as a member of the EU. As you notice from the Brexit campaign, it appears that for Britain the EU and its regulations are a liability – you feel restricted. If Britain was independent from the EU, they would make decisions that would benefit the island without the “interference” of the European Union. It sounds a bit nostalgic to me: Back to the past, when the British Empire still dominated the world. It doesn’t seem up-to-date in the digital age. More reasonable would be to my mind – if you want to change something, you have a talk with the players and not just leave.
If you leave out everything – all the financial reasons and fears for or against the Brexit – and just decide for yourself: Why would it be so bad right now – June 2016 – to say: “Guys, you know what, let’s go over this and discuss and decide together. Maybe you have something that works great and we could adapt”. This should happen at the table with all the other EU members. Because if we’re being honest: Nothing ever good came out when a state isolated itself with the plan to go into other directions.
Lisa Margolius 20/06/2016