In your opinion, what does Europe mean for your home country, the UK?
It’s hard to answer this question without using the B-word – Brexit. Europe has become a scapegoat for a lot of the problems in the UK in the last few years. But our relationship with Europe has always been a bit forced – we have a lot of exemptions to certain treaties and our island mentality means the idea of being subsumed into a larger entity is so unpleasant to many people that we have both joined and not joined the EU, in a sense. We are (or think of ourselves as) a powerful country within Europe, an independent country and are ultimately also an arrogant country. We want to do things our way and not have any foreigners tell us what we should be doing. To (mis)quote a famous British comedy from the 80s: “Britain is pro-Europe, because it is really anti-Europe… the more members it has, the more futile and impotent it becomes”. Being in the EU suited us, because we could control it a bit, but the recent perception is that Europe itself is becoming too strong, which is why a lot of people now want to leave.
That said, a lot of people in the UK – especially the younger generations – are pro-Europe and enjoy the freedoms and opportunities it provides. If you look at the demographics of the vote, the older generations tended to vote to leave the EU, while the younger generations voted to remain. If the vote happened in 2019 instead of 2016, the vote may have had a different outcome.