Quit Europe or stay? It’s the English who hold the whip hand in the coming UK vote – and many want out. So what’s up with the Poms? Lisa Millar explores the essence of “Englishness”.
Rural Somerset: a quaint old England of rolling pastures, stately manors and tweedy country folk tending horses or swapping tales on croquet lawns.
In places like these people cherish their Englishness – and they’re at the forefront of the push for the UK to ditch Europe in the June 23 referendum.
We’ve lost the pride to say ‘Hi, I’m English or hi, I’m British’… I think we’ve lost that pride in who we are – Simon, pub owner
As polls tighten ahead of the vote, Foreign Correspondent goes to Somerset in England’s heartland to get a sense of why the English – more than the Scots, the Welsh or the Northern Irish – want to divorce the EU after more than 40 years.
London bureau chief Lisa Millar follows the Leave campaign with local Tory MP, Eton-educated, Bentley-driving Jacob Rees-Mogg.
They don’t even have an imperial state crown. They’re boring dowdy people who wield the people’s power without so much as a by your leave – Jacob Rees-Mogg on EU bureaucrats
Polls vary but the bookies have the Remain side narrowly ahead. It’s pitching to Britons’ economic self-interest.
I class myself as a Great Britainer through and through, but I’m a European. We’re a small island on the edge of a Europe with a population of half a billion, which we should be looking at as a customer base – farmer, businessman and Remain campaigner Derek Mead
A big threat to the Remain campaign is a simmering resentment to immigration – not just from the Middle East or Africa – but from Europe too. That’s causing confusion for millions of Europeans in the UK who are unsure what will happen to their right to live and work there if Britain votes itself out of Europe
I worry, I don’t feel confident, I don’t feel safe – Malgorzata, Polish woman migrant
But as Millar discovers, the Leave campaign is not just about immigration and sepia-toned nostalgia for the Britain of yore. It’s also tapping into a newfound boldness about Britain’s ability to strike out on its own.
People are no longer as scared as they were in the 1960s and 70s because Europe no longer seems to be the lifeboat. If anything it seems to be the Titanic – historian Robert Tombs
Will the UK stay or stray? “There’ll Always Be An England” – Foreign Correspondent 9.30pm Tuesday June 7 and 10.30am Thursday June 9 on ABC & iview and 6.30pm Saturday June 11 on ABC News 24. Also on iview.