Is England Still Part of Europe?

Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

British prime minister Boris Johnson is desperate to translate the British public’s June 2016 vote to leave the European Union into a concrete Brexit.

But the real issue is far older and more important than whether 52 percent of Britain finally became understandably aggrieved by the increasingly anti-democratic and German-controlled European Union.

England is an island. Historically, politically, and linguistically, it was never permanently or fully integrated into European culture and traditions.

The story of Britain has mostly been about conflict with France, Germany, or Spain. The preeminence of the Royal Navy, in the defiant spirit of its sea lords, ensured that European dictators from Napoleon to Hitler could never set foot on British soil. As British admiral John Jervis reassured his superiors in 1801 amid rumors of an impending Napoleonic invasion, “I do not say, my lords, that the French will not come. I say only they will not come by sea.”

Britain’s sea power, imperialism, parliamentary government, and majority-Protestant religion set it apart from its European neighbors — and not just because of its geographical isolation.

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