I grew up in London. As a child I tended to be a bit confused. There was Britain and there was the Continent which was something else that Britain did not belong to. Summer holidays were spent in Greece, where there was Greece and Europe which was again the ?other? somewhere this time Greece did not belong to.
Now in Geography lessons we learnt that the continent of Europe did indeed include both the British Isles and of course Greece, and in history lessons that both of these were very important in the history of Europe, albeit in different times in and different ways.
When I was a little older, in the sixties when Britain still had not joined the then Common Market, swarms of day trippers from the ?Continent? would cross the Channel to do their shopping in Britain because prices were so much cheaper, thereby justifying the extra cost of travel.
All and any attempts by Britain to join the EEC or even just hints, were squarely vetoed by General de Gaulle who roundly declared that were Britain to be allowed into the Common Market she would destroy it. Hmmm.
Not taking the snub lightly, Britain finally managed to enter the Common Market in 1973 through Edward Heath?s persistent efforts, after de Gaulle?s demise that is. Greece entered the Common Market in 1981 after the fall of the Military Junta through the misguided belief that this membership would ensure democracy for the country,
The EEC had not been too keen on either membership. Britain owing to the fear of perfidious Albion and Greece because? well really this was a tinpot little country of no importance but whose historical legacy pushed it through.
And as things played out, perhaps it would have better, who knows? for both countries and the EU had neither of these two countries becomes members.
The following expansion of the EEC firstly to Spain and Portugal, then later to the ex Communist countries of Eastern Europe does not seem to have benefited the project for many and varied reasons.
And now Brexit is indeed threatening to tear down the whole edifice. Perhaps de Gaulle will be vindicated.
But then again perhaps the possible collapse of the EU, when and if it does happen (something that seems likelier by the day) for all the mismatches with Britain on the one hand and Greece on the other, blame should be attributed to where it is due: the Merkel-Schauble factor. The polices they imposed and the undemocratic way in which this was done led to resentment, pain, fear and even a resurgence in racism.
Let us not forget Schauble?s infamous doctrine: no matter what a country may vote for it makes no difference, economic policy cannot change. Implying it would always be decided by Germany and no one else was entitled to have a say.
However, it does seem that the people do matter after all.