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Sunday, 19 November, 2000, 11:51 GMT
Is it unpatriotic to be eurosceptic?

True patriotism means fighting for a leading place in Europe according to UK foreign secretary Robin Cook.

"It is patriotism, it is national self-interest, to argue for Britain's full engagement as a leading partner in Europe," he said.

And in his annual Mansion House address, Tony Blair said it would be a "supreme act of folly" to cut Britain off from the rest of Europe.

So is being pro-Europe in the nation's self interest? And is it unpatriotic to think otherwise?

This Talking Point is now closed. A selection of your e-mails are posted below.

I am very angry. How dare Blair and co call me unpatriotic. It is they who have done their best to destroy the UK and surrender a large number of British citizens to terrorists. Now they want to force me to become a European, whether I want to or not
Greg, The Netherland (British not European)

I love Europe but I hate the EU. This unelected body wants to destroy what is good about all nations within the EU

Stephen McCoull, England
I find the argument that the EU is "fundamentally undemocratic" quite amusing. In many ways the EU is more democratic than the UK, with proportional representation at its heart, and a non-voting Commission staffed by representatives of each country. There is nothing in the EU that comes anywhere near to the appalling House of Lords when discussing democracy.
Jonathan Baldwin, United Kingdom

I am anti EU, and I am sure that some people would call me a xenophobe. However I have a Norwegian girlfriend, and many friend who aren't English. I love Europe but I hate the EU. This unelected body wants to destroy what is good about all nations within the EU.
Stephen McCoull, England

No, it is patriotic to be a eurosceptic. With regard to closer integration to the EU I am entirely against it.
Jim, Great Britain

Ever noticed how the pro lobby is mainly foreign (frequently from the poorer states like Spain)? And the remainder always seem to be people with financial stakes in Anglo-European interests- eg investment bankers and retired ex-pats? I wonder why? Could it be because giving up our influence in the USA is vital to the future of the Euro? Or because these are the people who will rake it in at everyone elses' expense if we join? I'm with Groucho Marx- steer clear of any club that would have you as a member!
Dan Charles, England

The truth is we are not ready for integration

James, UK
If the greatest Conservative Prime Minister to hold office, Sir Winston Churchill, could be a strong proponent of a united Europe then surely there must be elements worth considering, and there are. The benefits are only worth considering however if the EU worked as it should in the idealistic sense and I don't think anyone would dare argue that this is the case. However, it cannot work because of human nature and unless it finds a way to regulate that, it will inevitably not succeed. The truth is we are not ready for integration and we need to grow up first.
James, UK

I find the attitude of those who always argue against closer integration with Europe rather tiresome, if only because many of them were in favour of joining the "Common Market" in the first place and actually rubbished the arguments that those against used during the 1975 referendum, but which they themselves are using now! They also don't tell us the REAL alternative; the UK as the 51st State of America. There is nobody on the pro-Europe side who will deny that the institutions of the EU need reforming, but WE need to be there to make sure it happens! If that means the pro-campaign have to resort to the kind of language that the Eurosceptics use, then so be it.
Steve, UK

Any party that says it will 'let the public decide on Europe' by having a referendum will get my vote at the next election. This issue is too big for self-obsessed politicians to decide on.

Europe will happen whether we want it or not

Michael Blatt, French-German in UK
With all this talk of patriotism we are losing sight of one important fact: Britain is even less of a nation than the other countries of Europe, who themselves I think hardly qualify as nations nowadays. For each country it is not a matter of being for or against Europe. Europe will happen whether we want it or not, including here in the UK. The "weak economies" of the Euro zone, for all their collapsing currency, still have higher living standards than Britain. Fancy a better and cheaper life?
Michael Blatt, French-German in UK

I believe the national interests of each single European state should be addressed first before blindly following the caravan of the EU; in other words, each nation should be consulted first by referendum or national election for any issue concerning a particular country. With regard to patriotism, I think we as EU citizens should leave this term behind and consider it a word of the past.
Hany-Mekkawi Rengier, Germany

Given the woeful performance of the Euro, we should congratulate ourselves for having been wise enough to stay out of it. The EU is fundamentally undemocratic, and its institutions are focussed on crushing national identity, which goes counter to the wishes of the British people (recent devolution initiatives show we want to strengthen national institutions). I believe our best option is an orderly withdrawal from the EU. People seem to forget that Switzerland has an extremely successful economy and isn't even a member of the EU.
Sam Brown, UK

Why be afraid of Europe? When something inevitably has great influence over our lives why not take an active part in its development rather than passively look on from across the "pond". If we don't like they way things are done in Brussels lets do something about it! It is rather presumptuous to think that all other Europeans are quite satisfied with the way Brussels is run and that it is a matter of us against them. I know the British don't like complaining, but if you don't speak up you can't expect to get things the way you want them.
John Stilwell, Portugal

Who really needs who to bolster the flagging euro

Ben Burns, England
I can't help thinking that if we were a much smaller country, with a much weaker economy would we be under so much pressure to join the EU? I don't see many of the smaller countries being so harangued. It begs the question: who really needs who to bolster the flagging euro?!
Ben Burns, England

I get paid far less than I did in the UK but the standard of living over here is streets ahead of Britain. Our money also goes much further as the cost of just about everything is much less, sometimes almost 50% less. I often wonder if Britain ever joins the Euro what will happen. Certainly the astronomical cost of living in Britain will be fully exposed to the British public. This in my opinion is why Britain so far has refused to join the Euro and unless dramatic necessary fiscal changes take place in Britain then further integration into Europe will never happen. I say this despite what Tony and Co or any future government says they will do to join the Euro zone proper. So fear not you Eurosceptics but it's a sad story for the British public who will never benefit from a better social and fiscal structure which is the EU.
Tim, France

Let's get stuck in now and embrace the change

Chris Adlard, UK
The more we debate Europe, the more inevitable it is for Britain. Let's get stuck in now and embrace the change. Do we honestly think our Nation is going soft just because we accept the opinion of another country? Besides which, who would you rather have running your transport system - John Prescott or the Germans?
Chris Adlard, UK

Has anybody told the Swiss and the Norwegians that they don't have a future outside the EU and that they will be impoverished banana republics in a few years time? It is a lie to suggest that we don't have a viable future if we don't favour total integration into the European superstate. Most recent wars in Europe and the former USSR have been caused by oppressive, democratically unaccountable, centralist states who made decisions without consulting the people - sounds familiar doesn't it!
Grant, England

I am patriotic but I still consider myself pro-Europe. I do believe that the EU needs a lot of reforms before it can work for us but we will get nowhere if we just spend our whole time complaining about the whole idea of being in the EU. We are in it, we have been for 25 years and it would be economic suicide to leave now. Let's instead have a serious debate about the reform of the EU rather than all this xenophobic nonsense.
Tom Skinner, Manchester, UK

We are a small country in an age of mergers

John P, England, Europe
We are a small country in an age of mergers. We need close trading partners. The choice is either Europe or the USA. One is on our doorstep, the other 4 time zones away. Common sense dictates that Europe must be the only option. We're too small an island to stand on our own. The old ideas of empire are over and we need new partners. Let's be proactive rather than reactive.
John P, England, Europe

It is patriotic to say you are British, but European is farcical. The whole union was designed by corrupt leaders as a power base to fall into when they no longer had a seat in their own Parliament. Keep France French and Britain British. To be patriotic over Europe is a betrayal of your heritage. Guess who will be the first seeking a seat there when he gets voted out at the next election - good old King Tony.
Pete, England

France is fine, so are the French. Germany is fine, so are the Germans. Holland is fine, so are the Dutch. And so on. Working WITH Europe is fine. Working UNDER Europe is totally unacceptable.
J.J. Lord, UK

One of the strongest economies in Europe is Norway

Ian Slater, UK
The people who really believe we need Europe are deluding themselves and have most likely been taken in by the Government's mis-information and lies. One of the strongest economies in Europe is Norway. They are not EU members and do not pay the extortionate fees into EU coffers as we do. Yet they have negotiated the same trading rights with the EU as we have. Our place is outside this corrupt and shambolic organisation but with the same trading rights as Norway. After all Heath sold the idea to us as a Common Market not a United States of Europe.
Ian Slater, UK

I think a vast majority of the anti-Europe/ patriotic people in the UK are maybe xenophobes. They talk of their pride in a great country, not wanting outside interference and protecting her but in reality the UK is adopting America junk-culture. The standard of living in mainland Europe is much higher in every respect than in the UK and close ties with Europe may help to modernise Britain.
Beancounter, UK

I hope the UK helps to build a European superstate. Than the US wouldn't be the only superpower. You guys could start policing the rest of the world for a while and we could spend less money on the military. Believe it or not, Americans don't like having to send troops everywhere. Perhaps if Europe had been stronger, the US wouldn't have had to get involved in Yugoslavia.
Brian Lee, USA

All Europeans have a democratic right to be sceptical

Mark Lisle, Germany (UK citizen)
All Europeans have a democratic right to be sceptical because many suspect that the EU is flawed in its operation. The European Commission is perceived as undemocratic and corrupt and should be replaced by a more powerful and accountable body. Then people may become less sceptical. However as regards patriotism, many of my Euro friendly and sceptic British friends are as fierce in their loyalty to Britain as Germans and French are to theirs and calling somebody unpatriotic for scepticism is like calling a Tory or Liberal unpatriotic for not supporting our Government. Wrong again Mr Blair.
Mark Lisle, Germany (UK citizen)

I have absolutely no idea.
Zachary Mann, England

We have little in common with mainland Europe except geographical proximity. Our language, laws, weights, measures and much DNA have far more in common with the USA. So, gracefully leave the EU and become (at least) 3 states of the USA. Ulster and Ireland will have to think on whether to follow.
Ray, England

I think being in the EU may well be in Britain's best interests and lead to a higher overall standard of living, better healthcare, wages, pensions and lower living costs, etc.
EM, Germany (ex-UK)

Being at the centre of Europe has led them to a greater appreciation of their heritage and history

Sean, Belgium
I live in Belgium working for a mainly American company. The Belgians I meet do not feel less Belgian because they are part of Europe. If anything, being at the centre of Europe has led them to a greater appreciation of their heritage and history. The Americans I work with fear Europe as a competitor (for trade or status as a world-leader). They don't fear the individual countries but when Europe acts collectively they have to sit up and listen - and they don't like it.
Sean, Belgium (but British)

Patriotism: devotion to one's own country and concern for its defence (Collins English Dictionary). Surely an integrated European defence policy will at least meet the latter part of this definition.
David Gatfield, UK

I think it is unpatriotic being Eurosceptic. Most of our trade is done with Europe and therefore most of our jobs rely on Europe. We should remember that we will always be an island and have our own identity regardless of whether we're in Europe or not. What is important is our prosperity. We are in a unique position bridging the gap between the USA and Europe and we should use our Britishness to exploit it. That's about as patriotic as you can get!
Thom Lloyd, UK

Europe is for holidays, not for life.
Charlie, England

An unaccountable body of international elitists

F Todd, US
The EU seems to be what the UN is to many Americans - an unacceptable granting of control to an unaccountable body of international elitists.
Here in America we have lost quite a bit of our self-rule to the corporate world. Our government is bought and sold to the highest bidder.
The only way PEOPLE can hope to retain their freedoms is to refrain from further consolidations of power. Joining the E.U. will not do that.
Todd F, USA

Britain is closely aligned to mainland Europe culturally, socially and for the most part economically. We already have free trade, access to employment within the EC and many cultural links and exchanges I see no need for the creation of a federal state. The creation of such a state would lead to the death of our individual rich heritage and create something superficial. Remember the federal state of U.S.A. only came to life with the destruction of the native American culture. Is that the fate we'd like for each of the wonderful European cultures?
Sarah Hardy, Spain

Stop bringing that old chestnut out

Philip Pearce, UK
With reference to Brian's comment about "Europe" being unelected, I might point out that the parliament is elected. If large portions of the UK does not vote but then does not like the choices made by the MEPs, I would say tough, you had the choice and failed to use it. Stop bringing that old chestnut out!
Philip Pearce, UK

I am proud of my country. I believe that Britain has - despite the evils done in its name - had an overall positive effect on the course of the world's history. Everything that makes this country what it is today is rooted in European history - and that includes the wars and struggles that created the British Empire and Commonwealth. To imagine that our future could lie anywhere else except with Europe first (and the rest of the world second) is simply crazy. Is it patriotic to be pro-European? Of course it is. Anything else is to deny the broad sweep of British history.
Steve Coxon, UK

The Euro's current weakness is a red herring

Tom C, The Netherlands (formerly UK)
Hmm, some Eurosceptic arguments make a strong case for the abolition of democracy, let alone Sterling! The Euro's current weakness is a red herring - like most currency amalgamations, it's significantly undervalued and will appreciate in due course. The UK's entry to the Eurozone would only accelerate this. There's only one route to long term prosperity, and that's globalisation.
Tom C, The Netherlands (formerly UK)

I just read that there is a plan to bring the army of Euro countries under single command. Oh that is too much. You are losing your freedom to defend. What if everything goes wrong. Once lost, it takes centuries to get back. Please think again before joining.
Latha, India

If patriotism means putting your country's best interest first, then closer integration with Europe would be a patriotic aim. So-called patriots rave on about the sacredness of the pound, yet gladly expended those sacred symbols on imports of everything from washing-machines to cars, driving a lot of British industry to the wall. What exactly is it that little Englanders are clinging to? Is it your precious McDonalds or shopping malls? Sorry they aren't British in origin or concept. Even your precious green field spoiling superstores are a French concept. Get into Europe and enjoy it and be proud to be a part of it.
Tom, Australia

There are many very good ideas coming from Europe, such as the common market. Oh, in fact, that's the only one, and it doesn't require our being ruled by unaccountable politicians far away. Our economy is not like others in Europe, and surrendering control of our monetary policy will damage us, not help us. I am patriotic, not xenophobic or nationalistic, and those pro-Europeans who use the "little Englanders" argument have no other decent, thought-out argument to use. We are being battered into an unwanted super-state, which we don't need.
Andy, UK

Give us the information we need to make a choice

My problem is that I have no idea whether joining Europe is a good thing to do or not. I'd love to have an informed debate, but I keep getting really mixed messages. Statements come out of Europe saying one thing, then government ministers re-interpret the statement to something else. Give us the information we need to make a choice, and I'll tell you if I think being pro-Europe is patriotic or not.

All the recent improvements in British law have had to be rammed down the Government's throat by the EC. How can we possibly lose by integrating closer to the rest of Europe? We should instead be glad that they are willing to have us!
Richard Boesch, UK

The game is afoot - choose your team

Derek Green, UK
The options are simple: UK as an engaged and respected partner of Europe is one option. The other is being an insignificant, self-obsessed, little island state battered by the competing hegemonies of the US, China and Europe. The game is afoot - choose your team.
Derek Green, UK

Go to France and watch the population doing everything for the advantage of the French. Buying mainly French cars and purging their language of Anglo-Saxon influence. Then look at their huge enthusiasm for the EU! How can anybody trust these jokers. Lets face it this is all about national self-interest and getting and milking those poor "shopkeepers" on the other side of the English Channel.
Nick, USA

We joined the Common Market years ago but we still pay the highest prices in Europe for cars and fuel! How much further do we have to go to get the promised benefits? In the global economy we are quite capable of trading with the world including our European neighbours without becoming part of a United States of Europe. Would both major parties please stop treating us like fools, give us the facts unclouded by jingoistic rhetoric and then let us vote.
Mike Parker, England

Why would cutting ourselves off from the rest of Europe be 'folly'? Becoming closer to Europe will distance people from the political system further and will enable fewer and fewer mega-companies to determine what we have in our shops and how our food is produced. We need to make our structures more 'people-scale' in order to reinvent our sense of community. Going European is going the wrong way for the wrong reasons.
Tharg Thargson, UK

Patriotic without being xenophobic and pro-Europe without being federalist

Jonathan, England
To my mind it is quite possible to be 'pro-Europe' in terms of being in favour of strong cultural, economic and infrastructure links with our friends on the continent whilst remaining 'anti-EU'. The EU project is at present an elite attempt to impose 'from the top down' a federal supra-national government of dubious democratic legitimacy, unwanted by most of the people of Europe. This view is patriotic without being xenophobic and pro-Europe without being federalist.
Jonathan, England

The UK is a European state and our political and economic interests almost wholly coincide. Narrow minded British patriotism would destroy our prosperity and world influence.
Tom, UK

This argument is not only confined to the U.K. Many here in the Clinton administration believe the nation states that now exist will be replaced by one central government. Left unsaid, of course, is the question who will be the governing force in this New World Order? It will be the same elitists who now control the planet but their presence will be much more visible than what we now see.
Steve B, US

I think all the debates over Europe ultimately boil down to the question: What sort of society do we want to live in? Do we want to live in a (relatively) high tax, good public services type of society like most of mainland Europe, or a low tax, poor public services type of society like the USA. For myself, give me Europe every time.
David Williams, UK

It would be foolish of us to get left behind

Anna, UK
I agree with Robin Cook, but I do think the government need to lead by example - how are the general public supposed to be absolutely certain about Europe if the government themselves are reluctant on certain aspects. I completely despair of these Little Englanders. Many great things have come from Europe - let's not forget that - it would be foolish of us to get left behind and bring Britain to a sorry state in comparison to the rest of Europe - that's not patriotic.
Anna, UK

What is patriotism? Our nation is comprised of humans from many different cultural backgrounds, none of which could claim to be the original occupants of the land! The reason I say such is that mankind has only been around for a short amount of time (in geological terms), Our country has only been occupied for a fraction of that time and the English nation for an even smaller percentage. Nationhood is an abstract used to divide up power and ownership of raw materials & wealth. In this country approximately 10% of the people own 90% of the wealth and this margin grows every year. In my opinion the only reasons for any decision should be economic not emotional but as long as unscrupulous people with vested interests in keeping Britain isolated and tied to America keep misleading the ignorant masses of this country then I can see no hope of a rational decision.
Kym Overy, UK

I think the issues are a little more complex than that

Mick, US
Free thinkers should realise that an archaic idea of patriotism has no place in whether or not England joins Europe. I believe Blair is correct, Britain should join Europe. However, patriotism is not the motivation and is again a sorry attempt by spin doctors to bully people into agreement. Why not put the policies forward and let the people decide, instead of muddling the issues in emotionally potent over-simplifications. Patriotism? I think the issues are a little more complex than that.
Mick, US

By not joining the Euro we are not cutting ourselves off from Europe. William Hague's position on joining the Euro is sensible and in the best interests of Great Britain. Let us remember just how much Europe needs our markets and financial contribution to the EU. If the Labour party and pro-euro lobby pretend that it will be a complete disaster for us to stay out of the Euro they are simply being dishonest. Let's not give any more to Europe, particularly in terms of our political freedom and immense amounts of our own money to support the 'sick currency of the world' ie the euro. Patriotism is built on national independence, accountability and the notion that charity begins at home. The message to Blair and Cook on the Euro is simple: WE DON'T WANT IT, WE DON'T NEED IT AND WE WON'T VOTE FOR IT.
Paul Johnson, England

I am far less concerned by closer integration with Europe than I am with the vast amounts of national sovereignty being handed over to corporations via GATT and the WTO. Why doesn't Tony Blair think it unpatriotic to risk a trade war unless we dismantle the NHS to allow American private health providers to trade in the UK? Neither choice is one the UK should be made to make.
Mark, UK

It is not in the interests of the United Kingdom to submerge its sovereignty into an undemocratic, corrupt European polity. When Robin Cook talks of nobody seriously suggesting that there be a federal superstate because it would never be accepted by the electorate, did he stop to think that the only electorate which has been consulted on the euro has said no? I detect another lie of the "don't be so daft school" only to be told after the event that its too late to do anything.
Simon Firth, UK

He should hold a referendum

Alaine Turner, England
How can it be considered unpatriotic to want to protect our economy, rights and laws, which have already been changed and altered to suit the views of politicians who not only are not living in this country, but do not have to live with the effects. This idea of a European state is ludicrous, already we see the economy beginning to collapse; Germany, the main country already want out. I feel that I am not the only one who feels like this and if Tony Blair was really concerned about this country of which he is Prime Minister then he should hold a referendum and find out what his country really thinks. Or is he afraid to find out what the people of Britain really want?
Alaine Turner, England

I would always want the best for the UK but I think the British are too suspicious of Europe -treating Europe as though it was going to steal from Britain or make it worse somehow. We are not uniting with Third World countries here but nations that have, it could be argued, more to lose than we do. Is it not also the progression we should be endeavouring to make. The British people united to form a stronger and better country as the Germans, Italians etc did. Isn't Europe the next step? I hope so!
Dimitri Shestakovich, Scotland

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"

Peter C. Kohler, USA
I believe it was Samuel Johnson who said that "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" and he hadn't even met Mr. Blair. If this Euro-rabble want to be so "patriotic" why don't they have the courage and confidence to put the whole issue of the UK and the EU to a VOTE by Britons? Why? Because they know the result. And are these not the same buffoons who said it was "unpatriotic" to criticise The Dome?
Peter C. Kohler, USA

If the only argument for being pro-Europe that our politicians can come up with is that it is the patriotic thing to do, it sounds to me as though we had better get out while we still can!
Hugh, UK

I think Eddie Izzard highlights this nicely... The UK is not in the driving seat of the European car. It's not even in the passenger seat. The UK is outside the European car asking, "Do you want your windscreen cleaning sir?"
Ben Ashley, Paris, France (English)

Being pro-Europe is a synonym for being pro-British

Alex, UK
Being pro-Europe is a synonym for being pro-British and those who do not realise this are shooting themselves in both feet. We are signed and sealed to the future of Europe, and conduct most of our trade with our European partners. The only sensible path is to enable increasing integration and standardisation to enable deepening liaisons between all the member states of the European Union.
Alex, UK

Mr. Cook has confused means with ends. One may love one's country and think the best place for it is in the EU. It all depends upon whether you see close integration as good or bad.
Domini Connor, UK

Surely it is folly to stay in Europe? We have seen what the weak economies of the union have done to the strength of the euro, why should we let them drag down our economy? Why should our people support the people of other less well of countries, only for them to tie us up in red tape? The strength of the euro maybe hard for the UK at present but wait until the euro zone gets high inflation, we'll be laughing all the way to the bank.
Steve Mac, United Kingdom

Patriotism is the championship or love of one's country. The way the EU appears to be heading threatens much of what I cherish most about my country. To suggest that being Euro-sceptical is to be unpatriotic is typical New Labour double-speak.
Chris Klein, UK

They have turned the question round completely. The question should be is it patriotic to want to destroy our identity as a country by submerging it in a superstate.
G White, UK

Churchill was pro-Europe, Churchill was a Patriot.

Phillip Souta, UK
Of course it is Patriotic to be Pro-Europe. Churchill was pro-Europe, Churchill was a Patriot. As was Heath. The others, like Thatcher, we can say was bent more towards the more rabid variation; nationalism. The populist argument covered, it's also important to point out the alternatives - petty nationalism? Becoming "ever closer" to the United States? Or maybe the Commonwealth.
Phillip Souta, UK

True patriotism is to follow ones convictions in the pursuit of the country's best interests. As much of the European debate is a matter of opinion, to use an emotive word like "patriotism" to describe those one agrees with is to deliberately cloud the discussion. It is possible to be a patriot in either camp, and it is possible to find people acting in their own self-interest in either camp as well...
Julian Hayward, UK

Does the Prime Minister really think that we will fall for this? He cannot and will not bully or frighten intelligent patriotic Britons into supporting a policy that undermines the sovereignty of our country. He will never be able to allude to popular support when talking about full integration into Europe or the Euro. He has two choices - he can force us into it and reap the whirlwind, or change his absurd non-policy.
Alex, UK

Of course it is, to state that it is against the UK interest to be part of Europe is rubbish, we need Europe.
Philip Pearce, UK

I'll have 550ml of bitter please


I don't even want to be governed by Westminster. I want my local town or district council to govern me. I want to get away from faceless, politicians with their spin-doctors who I'll never meet and who don't care about me. Are you telling me that by getting BIGGER we will achieve this? Rubbish! If I am unpatriotic to hold any "law" that the European "parliament" passes beyond contempt then so be it! I would rather be unpatriotic to a country that has lost its right to govern itself than cosy up to a bureaucratic, faceless, institution whose members are so taken with their status and self-importance that the only chance of me seeing one of them down the local is when they try to convince me to say "I'll have 550ml of bitter please"! NO WAY. I love you Europeans but I love my England more!

As a whole we can then challenge American dominance

N. Bradley, UK
Is not to be patriotic to want the best for your nation? The British Empire lies in chalk, there is no shame in joining Europe. Only as a united Europe can individual countries prosper and as a whole we can then challenge American dominance. The fact that we are British, French or Dutch will never change.
N. Bradley, U.K

The fundamental notion of patriotism is an absurdity since the UK and its constituent countries is not "ours" in the first place. The vast majority of people may live here, but we don't own or control the vital parts that make life possible: the productive industries and resources. These crucial assets belong to a capitalist minority, and they, particularly big business, are the ones most keen on economic and monetary union, since the creation of a one huge competitive market will result in greater profits for the strongest, combined with less protection for all those carrying out the work.
M Hess, UK

We're talking about our economic future here

Alan Wood, UK
It's got nothing to do with patriotism - its got to do with sound economic sense. Tony Blair should lift himself above the 'patriotism' argument. As ever, the Tory media seem to be setting the agenda and tone of this important debate. This is not a time to be catering to the lowest common denominator. We're talking about our economic future here!
Alan Wood, UK

I am concerned that Robin Cook appears to be deliberately mixing up patriotism and nationalism. Being against the EU doesn't stop me being an internationalist. In fact, being an internationalist means I cannot support the development of fortress Europe.
Robert Bakewell, UK

How can being pro-European be patriotic ? The essence of being pro-European at this time seems to involve wishing to dismantle as much of our Nation State as possible as quickly as possible. Giving away the majority of the power of the British State would hardly seem to be a patriotic act! To politicians, such as Tony Blair, being pro-European is not about being positive towards Europe, it is about the personal aggrandisement of being involved in the creation of a federal superstate.
Ian Harriss, UK

Once you lose the right to govern yourself it is not always easy to regain it

Beng Tang, Singapore
Britain does not have to be part of some European super state to be European, just like Canada does not have to be part of the USA to be part of North America. I find it a bit strange that on the one hand there are people like the East Timorese who are willing to die for their right to self-determination, whilst on the other hand many British people don't seem to value it much. Once you lose the right to govern yourself it is not always easy to regain it.
Beng Tang, Singapore

It is obviously possible to be patriotic, and not nationalistic; tolerant and respectful for the opinions of others yet firm and fully committed to the promotion and the defence of British democratic values and cultural heritage which is essentially European in its historical origin, and diverse in its current modern multi-ethnic reality. Nationalism creates wars; the European Union demonstrates the values of co-operation, solidarity and the integrity of the individual in a world that singularly lacks such values on a wide enough scale.
David Lowe, Belgium

The UK can survive quite nicely trading with the world, not just with Europe

David M Stewart, UK
Patriotism is an outdated idea. Individual self-interest is more important. Is it self-interest to want to be part of a political creation whose currency has lost 30% of its' value in the past year? I think not. The UK can survive quite nicely trading with the world, not just with Europe.
David M Stewart, UK

Tony Blair seems determined to destroy the UK and everything it represents. When will politicians realise the public perceive the EU as a gravy-train for clapped out and failed politicians. Take Neil Kinnock as a prime example. He was so good, he failed miserably in his own country, but managed to achieve high position in the EU. The whole Commission resign due to corruption etc. and then all but one are re-elected? I have nothing against the EU, but wish it had stayed as a free trade association, rather than an overlord.

Be patriotic, get in there

Chris (ex-UK), Germany
I think it is patriotic to follow a course of self-interest within Europe. I can't see how UK can benefit from being "outwith" the EU. I shall watch with interest how the UK Government are going to try and reconcile the necessary tax increases in line with the rest of Europe, whilst maintaining the ludicrous high cost of everything in UK due to the duty etc. Yes we pay very high taxes, however, we are actually paying upfront for benefits which are infinitely better than UK currently. We have less disposable income, but the money goes far further. On average, we pay 46 - 50% tax minimum. But our weekly outgoings cost us 30% less. Our standard of living is far better. Be patriotic, get in there.
Chris (ex-UK), Germany

It may be patriotic in some people's view to favour Europe, but I just wish they wouldn't castigate those of us who want nothing to do with the EU as "xenophobic" and "little Englanders", we're nothing of the sort.
Gordon Burgess-Parker, England

I would have thought that it was self-evident that it was in the UK's interest to face more towards Europe. We do most of our trade with Europe, take our holidays there our entire history is intermingled with Europe. Our head of state is descended from a German and our future king is half Greek! The euro-sceptics seem to consist of xenophobes and those who wish us to become the 51st state of America!
Brian Binney, UK

You miss the point when you term the issue as one of patriotism. It is about democracy. The EU is an undemocratic body, elected by nobody. The vote count in Florida may seem silly to most Europeans, but I would rather have that than random pronouncements from an unelected body far from home. The EU has served its purpose (no more wars between France and Germany). Time to bow out gracefully.
Nick C, USA

While I don't agree with Blair on many issues on this I think he is right

Mike, England
I am pro-Europe, and while I don't agree with Blair on many issues on this I think he is right. Am I patriotic? Yes, I would argue that I am - after all, I am proud of my country and want what is best for my country, and if that means going into Europe then that is what we should do. People who argue against going into Europe are not being patriotic - they are just being unrealistic, backward looking and careless with the future of the British people.
Mike, England

I can't see how it can be patriotic to support a business cartel.
Thomas Worthington, UK

Have we really learned nothing in the last 2000 years of so-called civilization? Patriotism is a global evil that is responsible for just about every war that ever happened. So many people blame religion for war when the vast majority are due to territorial ambition. As we head toward the "global community", we remove the shackles of patriotism and address the world as a whole, not as a group of disparate, proud and jealous nations.
Alex, NZ

Yes, in a way it is, because the alternative to being a participating and fully engaged partner in the E.U. is to be a vassal and semi-satellite state for the U.S.
M. M. Zaman, UK in US

How can it be patriotic to want to sell out your country? Defending the UK's Parliament (i.e. the voice of its people), its currency and its way of life is patriotic. Robin Cook and Tony Blair are out to do the opposite in Nice next month. They are the antithesis of patriotism and should stop pretending to be otherwise.
Matthew Knowles, UK

Oh, that we had a truly patriotic Government

T Davis, N. Ireland
There is everything right in being pro-Europeans (the people), but not pro-EU. Successive Governments have sold-off our birthright without asking us. The ECJ and the undemocratic Commission rules over us, not a British Parliament answerable to British people. We are no longer sovereign. When we give-in to the euro, it will be a lot more difficult to get back our sovereignty. What can we do? Shall we have Labour traitors, or Conservative traitors? Both have already sold-off our sovereignty to the large corporations' economic interests. Oh, that we had a truly patriotic Government!
Timothy Davis, N. Ireland

In some circumstances, being pro-Europe will be in Britain's national interest. However, in others it may not be. Each case needs to be decided on it's merits. The problem with the euro-sceptics is they seem to think being anti-Europe is always in Britain's interest, which it isn't.
Doug Futers, UK

It sounds more like treason

Brian, UK
How can it be either patriotic or in the nation's self interest to subrogate our elected parliamentary system to an un-elected bureaucracy. It sounds more like treason. And as for cutting ourselves off from Europe, to fully join in the continental shenanigans we would have to cut ourselves off from the rest of the world.
Brian, UK

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