"Brits see things differently to mainlanders"

Flandersnews asked its readers from the UK to have their say ahead of the UK’s EU referendum. One reader who was keen to share his views is Geoff Lee, a Briton who has been living in Sint-Denijs-Westrem in Ghent for five years, but is now returning to the UK.

Geoff Lee writes: “I came to the conclusion that most European mainlanders (particularly the Flemish) and most Brits do not necessarily disagree on political/economic theory (although some do) but that the main difference is philosophical i.e. we 'think' differently.”

“This might be in part due to our historical pasts. We (Brits, being literally an island people with almost entirely only the sea as our border) have spent most of our last few centuries arguing and where necessary fighting for our national independence whereas you (European mainlanders, being almost entirely a land locked country with land borders) have spent a good part of your last few centuries aligning yourselves with internationalised socialism. I know that that is a generalisation and that there are exceptions both ways. But - we 'think' differently.”

“This was accidentally and hilariously discovered apparently when a German and a British MEP happened to meet to discuss a recent realisation that in a certain tiny area of commercial life (I forget what, now) there appeared to be no European wide regulations governing it. The German immediately stated that that had to be put right whereas the Brit said that it didn't need to be because it was right. Therein lies, in microcosm, the heart of the difference in our thinking.”

Bureaucracy

“Belgium [no offence intended] is, to the Brits' eyes, unbelievably bureaucratic, red tape orientated with rules and regulations which most Flemish seem to love (even though they joke about them and usually try to get round them) and so will always rejoice when they see still yet further layers of it being imposed. It makes them feel safe. Brits hate bureaucracy and will always try to break it down.”

“The tragedy in all this is that an understanding of this ought to have been built into EU thinking right at the start i.e. that we all want to trade together but that some of us would rather govern ourselves at the same time. Had that been accepted years ago we would not now be having this debate and referendum.”

“Brits feel that as an island we saved Europe from itself at least once and possibly twice last century and we are not impressed at the thanks we are getting by us being expected to submit to an unelected and antidemocratic Brussels empire.”

Our series on Britain’s EU referendum reflects the views of our readers. Are you a Briton living in Belgium or abroad and do you feel strongly on these issues? And would you like to share your views with our readers? Please don’t hesitate to set them out in an email. Please also include a photograph of yourself and let us know where you live. Many thanks.

The flandersnews team.