Brexit: what do Euro­peans think?

7 Days in Dubai - - BREXIT -

Side by side, row by row, French and Bri­tish graves pay trib­ute to two na­tions stand­ing united a cen­tury ago in one of the defin­ing bat­tles of the First World War. Their flags still flut­ter to­gether over the Thiep­val Me­mo­rial, but as Bri­tain pre­pares to vote on whether to leave or stay in the Euro­pean Union, good­will be­tween the con­ti­nent and the is­land na­tion is fray­ing. Bri­tain’s age-old anti-Europe streak has never run so deep. And the con­ti­nent, es­pe­cially France, is mak­ing it clear that po­lit­i­cal com­mit­ment is not a one-way street. “If we leave, it is like a sep­a­ra­tion again - and be­ing torn apart. It breaks all of these bonds,” said Emma Jacques, a 15-year-old stu­dent of Sh­effield’s King Ecg­bert School. Among EU coun­tries, France seems to have the strong­est views on the unity of Europe and Bri­tain’s role in it. A Pew Re­search Cen­tre sur­vey on the pos­si­bil­ity of a Bri­tish exit from the bloc, found that in France, which has long been among the staunch­est ad­vo­cates of in­te­gra­tion, 32 per cent of peo­ple think it would be good for Bri­tain to leave. That’s the high­est among 10 EU na­tions sur­veyed. That comes de­spite the fact that many con­ti­nen­tal na­tions ap­pre­ci­ate Bri­tain for its mil­i­tary clout, diplo­matic prow­ess and pow­er­ful and open econ­omy. EU coun­tries like the Nether­lands and Swe­den have also em­braced Bri­tain’s free-mar­ket ap­proach. So, as much as most in Europe still think it would be bad for the EU to see Bri­tain go, many also want the coun­try to be a more ac­tive and en­thu­si­as­tic mem­ber of the EU - not just stand­ing on the side­lines, crit­i­cis­ing the EU’s meth­ods and ac­tions.

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