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Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Do patriotism and Europe mix?

The single currency, a referendum on Europe, taxation - the battle over Europe has taken centre stage with all parties saying their European policy is best for Britain.

In a speech in Scotland, Tony Blair argued that to be pro-Europe is to be patriotic, and that a Conservative victory could lead to withdrawal from the European Union.

The Liberal Democrats say that what is good for Europe is good for Britain.

The Conservatives argue that if Labour is re-elected, the pound will be sunk.

Is sovereignty important, or do you feel the future lies with Europe? Do you think that being pro-European is patriotic or is it impossible to be both.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction


Our children can go to university in any European country but why would they want to?

Chris Gravelle, London
I can't remember voting for any of the members of the European Central Bank - the people who will ultimately run Britain if we join the Euro. A complete overhaul of the Common Agriculture policy is needed(which is highly unlikely, even with Germany's support) before we should consider closer ties with Europe. Our children can go to university in any European country but why would they want to? English is the principal language of business so why go elsewhere? Joining the Euro won't make anything better, except for price transparency; you will no longer need a calculator to find out how much you have been ripped off! I was for the Common Market as it made sense but closer economic and political ties don't, considering how different the various member states are.
Chris Gravelle, London, England

The English are already a mish-mash of European races. Where you live is an accident of geography, 10,000 years ago Britain wasn't even an island. Clinging to the past condemns you to eternally live in it.
Leigh, USA (UK)

If anyone believes a referendum question will be put and handled fairly, dream on! If anyone was around in 1975 they know exactly what I mean. The EU is primarily a club where failed or ousted politicians move to when they have been sussed out locally.
David Morris, Basingstoke,UK

Pro-Europeans take it as gospel that the UK is inferior to Europe in almost every way. I don't believe a person can look down on their own country so much and consider themselves patriotic. We have our problems, but we have our strengths as well. The pro-Europeans should not forget that.
Barry Coombes, Salisbury, England.


We would be better off moving towards a more European culture as opposed to a US one

Andrew Zarkesh, South Manchester
< P> I agree with the point raised that, if a choice must be made, we would be better off moving towards a more European culture as opposed to a US one. We British should be better placed than most to observe the negative effects of a culture which promotes self-obsession and firearms-for-all has on a once reasonably 'transparent' society.
Andrew Zarkesh, South Manchester

Any far-seeing UK politician should be preparing this country for the next 25 years. That means in Europe and, "at the heart of Europe". There simply is no alternative.
Mark Collins, England

I don't think joining the Euro will affect our national identity and is not inconsistent with patriotism. The other countries have signed up, but is France any less French or Germany any less German? I think there are big advantages in joining the Euro. For example, businesses and tourists would be able to trade without the added cost of currency exchange or the uncertainty of fluctuating exchange rates. Also, when anyone goes on holiday within the Euro zone they'll not have to deal with "foreign money" because it will be our money too.
Marc Roddis, Cambridge, UK and Uppsala Sweden


Pro-Europeans take it as gospel that the UK is inferior to Europe in almost every way

Barry Coombes, Salisbury, England
Pro-Europeans take it as gospel that the UK is inferior to Europe in almost every way. Just look at some of these posts and see. I don't believe a person can look down on their own country so much and consider themselves patriotic. We have our problems, but we have our strengths as well. The pro-Europeans should not forget that.
Barry Coombes, Salisbury, England.

In the 18th century, patriotism was described as 'the last bastion of the scoundrel'. Some things don't change. Unfortunately joining the euro will not destroy patriotism -that requires the British people to stop living in a fantasy world of imperial grandeur and start recognising the real place of our small island in the world order.
Tony, Leeds, UK

What is patriotic about tolerating Britain being used as a milch-cow to fund grandiose EU projects? The euro has a mass of small print that goes with it. one of the worst lines is a single Interest rate for 15 different countries (if more countries like UK join the Euro) The more countries join, the more likely it is that this one-size-fits-all policy will cause real harm and damage to one or more of the countries involved.
Neil, UK

Do the people of this country really believe that the UK will stand a chance of survival if we don't go into Europe, some people will have us believe that we can stand on our own and be successful, look at us now.
Richard Sykes, Sheffield, UK

This country is already losing jobs, factories etc, so what will be new if we join Europe totally? Nothing, except we lose whatever else we own including, our own monetary system, sovereignty, and all other powers that we have at present. To be a patriot means to support your own country, not every one else's, as you can be assured none of the other countries either support us, each support their own.

Keep our pound and everything else otherwise the freedom our parents and grandparents died for will disappear. The war will be lost.
Alma, Scotland U.K


If you don't join the euro, then what are you going to do? invade India or something?

Joseph O'Neill, Ireland
I'm sick and tired of this British euro sceptic nonsense. Some of them say "Lets leave the EU and trade with the world". But that's just stupid. The olden days of empire are no more. Yes, you Brits used to trade a lot with India, but don't you remember that your stranglehold on that and other markets was apparently largely due to monopolies you forced on them, which made the subject peoples incapable of being anything other than your markets? If you don't join the euro, then what are you going to do? invade India or something?
Joseph O'Neill, Ireland

No single currency has survived without political union, therefore the euro can go only two ways: failure or super-state. If we join the euro and Tony Blair refuses to harmonise tax and social policy he will hijack the Euro and be digging its grave. If we join the Euro and harmonise, then it can not be in our national interest as there will be no nation left to have interests. European leaders will know of the failures of the 1865 Latin single currency and the Scandinavian currency which survived for only a short period, being dissolved in 1912.
Andrew Cryer, Bolton, England

I agree with the point raised that says we would be immeasurably better off moving towards a more 'European culture' as opposed to a US one. We British should be better placed than most to observe the negative effects a culture which promotes self-obsession and firearms-for-all has on a once reasonably 'transparent' society.
Andrew Zarkesh, South Manchester

The real reason the Tories don't want to be in Europe is because it undermines their "natural right to govern". Most EU member states have moderate centre left governments. Even the Christian Democrats are more progressive than the Tories.
Mark White, Yorkshire, UK


For those of us in Scotland, the debate over Europe raises no question of patriotism at all. We have already ceded our sovereignty to London

Robbie, Glasgow, Scotland
For those of us in Scotland, the debate over Europe raises no question of patriotism at all. We have already ceded our sovereignty over certain matters to London, and I do not see that it makes any difference for such control to be passed to a European government. Now that control of local issues has been returned to Edinburgh, I would be in favour of abolishing the UK entirely (or at least seeing Scotland leave it), meaning that matters of truly pan-European significance could be dealt with in Brussels and the remaining issues in Scotland.
Robbie, Glasgow, Scotland

We fought a war to preserve our independence. Now the Europeans are our friends not our enemies, and the technique is seduction not rape, but the loss of independence is the same.
M Canton, Somerset UK

Opposition to the Euro is not as great as commonly believed. In polls where people are given the extra option of joining when the time is right (as opposed to how they'd vote right now) then the split is almost 50/50. By denying the people a referendum promised by Labour and the Liberal Democrats the Tories could lose votes instead of gain them.
David Patrick, Reading, UK


I am surprised the major EU states want the UK to join. Britain is backward-looking

Jon,
Having lived in the UK for many years and having dual French and British nationality it has to be said that the standard of living this side of the channel (France) is a lot better.

The infrastructure works, trains run on time, are cleaner and faster. The health system works it keeps people healthy. The level of education generally is well in excess of that achieved in Britain. The cost of living is marginally less expensive. There is a better social cohesion. And the sense of national identity is strong.

I am surprised the major EU states want the UK to join. Britain is backward-looking with a rich few creaming it of for themselves while the rest of the population is sold down the river.
Jon, Paris France

What patronising guff from all those europhiles. There are sound economic and constitutional reasons for staying out of the Euro. It is not merely a matter of what type of bank note you have in your pocket. It's about freedom to decide economic policy that's best able to promote growth and prosperity within the UK. We have a different trade profile to the rest of the EU and depend more on trade with the US and Japan. We are also more in alignment with the US cycle than our mainland counterparts.
Paul Wheelhouse, Cockburnspath, Scotland

I don't think joining the euro will affect our national identity and is not inconsistent with patriotism. The other countries have signed up, but is France any less French or Germany any less German.
Marc Roddis, Cambridge, UK and Uppsala Sweden

If the British legal system won't mesh with the European system, why has it been successfully meshing for the last 25 years? Common law and regulations allow freer trade - more opportunities - *less* regulation (because there is one set of rules for several countries - not many)... its less a question of getting out of, than of sorting out, the EU. If we can make it work - all members will benefit (and so will their friends).
Bob, London, England

Blair's stride across some of the global issues at long last treated some of the electorate as grown-ups able to take detail.
Bill, Slough


I still pine for the good old days when Mercia and Wessex were independent

Kirk O'Connor, London, UK
As current nation states go Britain is pretty old at 300 years (Act of Union between England and Scotland). But I still pine for the good old days when Mercia and Wessex were independent over a 1000 years ago so this nonsense about British patriotism is pretty small beer for me. Bring back the Groat!
Kirk O'Connor, London, UK

For the Euro currency to work you have got to have uniform tax rates. To have uniform tax rates you have got to have centralised political control. Once you have centralised political control over taxes you will have de facto political control over every aspect of government. British government and political ideology is vastly removed from European socialism to a level that we the Brits will never accept. Join the Euro and in five years the system will collapse.
Simon Smith, Camberley England

Don't be badgered into joining by slick politicians who would accuse you of being unpatriotic. Real patriots work to preserve their country and its fine traditions and realize our individuality is what made us great in the first place. Individuality isn't a bad thing. It allows each of us to share the best we have to offer, for the betterment of our countries.
Mark P Roberts, Winsted, Connecticut, USA

Would everyone stop making references to World War two? It is nothing to do with the present economic climate. If there was a Nobel Prize for complete incompetence I know that Wee Willie would be on the short list. I think the European Union will help business a great deal; the more socially responsible attitude of the EU will improve the disgraceful situation that Britain has put single mothers and other such struggling members of society in.
J.W Bhoyd, Dehra Dun, India ( UK national )


It is rubbish!

Marco, Italy
You must not join the single currency. It is rubbish!
Marco, Italy

Of course patriotism and Europe mix. Are the army unpatriotic because they train with French and German troops? What would be monstrously unpatriotic would be to withdraw into our little island and watch the last vestiges of British influence and prestige wither away because we are perceived as too small-minded to get on with our neighbours.
Guy Chapman, UK

I'm not patriotic. Indeed I view such ideas as the nation-state as being something from the last millennium. But I'm not in favour of 'big government' ideas like the EU either; such things stifle innovation and freedom.
David Moran, Australia/Scotland.

The idea of a referendum on the Euro worries me. The vast majority of people in this country are to easily swayed by tabloid newspapers and popular press. They will be whipped up into an emotional bandwagon on what it means to be British.
Jason Scott, Plymouth, UK.


There is no benefit to being part of this mafia-like organization

Chris, London, England
The EU costs a fortune, is corrupt, undemocratic and badly run. It subsidizes defunct industries and lines the pockets of its own commissioners. There is no benefit to being part of this mafia-like organization. I am a well-travelled, well-educated young person not an old stick in the mud.
Chris, London, England

I am getting increasingly fed-up by the style of the discussion about whether Britain should join the euro-zone or not or leave the EU altogether. I do not understand you people. What has an economic structure to do with Patriotism? Most participants of this discussion are so misinformed of what economy is really about.
Christa, Leeds, England/Germany

In my opinion they only mix on holiday.
Forbes Cunningham, Netherlands

I consider myself Scottish, British and European. I have no problem with Scotland having some of its own decisions being made in the Scottish parliament with the rest being made in Westminster, and I have no problem joining the Euro currency with having some decisions made from Brussels.
Mark Stewart, Dumfries Scotland

Although I'm not advocating it, if Britain became the 51st state of America it would be the most powerful and influential. Contrast that as also-rans in a EU super-state.
Paul Davis, London, England

Placing such hysterical emphasis on what is and what isn't the unit of currency indicates a pretty hollow concept of national identity. What about the values and ideas that matter, such as social responsibility, fairness and progress? These have traditionally been genuine positive attributes of the British that have been admired around the world but Europe as a whole is rapidly overtaking us.
Andy, UK

Patriotism is all about being proud of one's country. If we are in the European super-state, patriotism will be smothered. Let me make a prediction. Within 50 years there will be a major civil war in the European super-state, and an independent UK will be there to pick up the pieces...again.
John Atkins, Bridgwater, England


What is this super-state that every anti-EUer goes on about?

Jason O'Mahony, Dublin, Ireland
What is this super-state that every anti-EUer goes on about? You would swear Britain is the only democracy in Europe. This isn't about sovereignty, it's about self confidence. I'm Irish and proud. I'm also a European Federalist. One doesn't exclude the other. Does the fact that such luminaries as Rupert Murdoch, Jorg Haider, Gerry Adams and Jean Marie Le Pen are all against the EU indicate anything? I think I'll stay on the Blair/Clarke/Ashdown side. You get a better class of person.
Jason O'Mahony, Dublin, Ireland

It seems difficult enough to bring together Englishmen, Welsh, Scottish and the people of Northern Ireland. From this side of the pond, I'm a little sceptical of the EU being anything more than an economic union, but that's none of my business. However, I think those that fear ties with the US will be hurt by joining, and those that want to join the union to severe ties with the US, have both got it wrong. The UK is and always will be tied to the English-speaking world. It probably sounds strange, since the UK is apparently so influenced by US culture, but in fact it is the cultures of the UK and Ireland that are the basis of our culture.
Brien Alkire, Los Angeles, US

The europhiles accuse their opponents of 'xenophobia' but they are the real isolationists. How they sneer at American culture. Our language, history and ethnic makeup give us links to all parts of the world. No country is better placed to benefit from globalisation than Britain. The issue is economics, not identity. We should leave fortress Europe and seek a global future.
Philip Neal, London UK

Handing over the government of a country to a foreign power is not patriotic, it's treason.
David K, England

It is simply an illusion to imagine that by remaining outside the euro zone or the EU as a whole, the UK would be more independent. Whether we like it or not, decisions will be taken at a European level. We have a choice: effective participation or impotence on the sidelines. The Bank of England always follows decisions made by the Federal Reserve, Bundesbank and now the ECB anyway.
Rick, London


If all EU politicians were like the Swedes I would have no problem

Richard, London UK
I am happy to pool UK sovereignty with countries that have trustworthy politicians. If all EU politicians were like the Swedes I would have no problem. Given that they are not I prefer power to stay at Westminster. Better the devils you know!
Richard, London UK

How do I rescind my citizenship of the EU? I put this question to the EU website. The belated reply only pointed to text that says that citizens of member states become citizens of the EU. Perhaps those who don't wish membership of the EU can ask their parliamentary candidates this question.
Nigel Rees, Milford, USA (Briton)

I'm in my twenties, hold a degree specialising in international mediation. The British economy and legal systems are used as examples of good practice in countries aspiring to join the European free trade zones - in Latvia, for example, the government explicitly modelled the Lat on the Pound Sterling (it even looks almost identical), while Slovenia is drawing heavily upon British financial and legal experts for advice in the creation of its new legislative structure. Would-be members of the EU have not been deluded into thinking that the Commission in Brussels is the source of prosperity, and nor should we be.

There is no reason why free trade with our neighbours should require a loss of political rights.
Andrew, Edinburgh, UK

I think Mr Blair is doing well in pushing the British economy towards the euro. The world is changing and British don't have nothing to lose if they join the euro, if Tony Blair plays his cards well he can win the referendum on British entry to the euro.
Jose Luis Rivera Escudero, Mexico, City

I am proud to be British, and I say if joining the euro brings my mortgage down, then lets get on with it and put all the doubt behind us, lets have the vote on if we join or not. Billy Bandwagon has mixed up policy with principle, as keeping the pound for a few more years is a policy, but they say its a principle. Will someone tell them the difference? I also remember the last time the Tories tried to saved the pound, we had 15 per cent interest rates, which cost me my job and home.
Mark Hughes, Kettering, Northants, UK


For William Hague and the Tories, joining the Euro is something too awful to contemplate. Yet absurdly, their argument only holds good for the duration of one parliament

Richard Condon, Bewdley, Worcs
For William Hague and the Tories, joining the Euro is something too awful to contemplate. Yet absurdly, their argument only holds good for the duration of one parliament. Logically, therefore, Mr Hague is allowing for a future Tory government that might want Britain to join the euro. Mr Hague should tell us whether he would rule out Britain ever joining the euro while he was Prime Minister which, of course, could be for more than one parliament.
Richard Condon, Bewdley, Worcs

The goal of European integration should be to provide a common goal for all its citizens, and to prevent the horrors of the past 100 years. Surely, this is not patriotic, but simply vital for UK and Europe's future.
Eliot Bamford, UK (living in USA)

The impulse to bond ever closer with the European Union is perfectly understandable, it stems from an appreciation of European culture and living standards and the notion that Britain can remain globally influential by contributing to EU foreign policy. Unfortunately, this view does not take into account the reality that the UK's political and judicial systems and traditions will simply not mesh with European ones. Britain needs to have the confidence to say "thanks, but no thanks".
David Parry, London, UK

If you look around the world or in the history books, the defence of a nation's sovereignty has always been of paramount importance to its people. The last time the sovereignty of this country was threatened its population counted going to war as an acceptable risk in its defence. The millions of ordinary people who gave their lives to prevent another country having control over us would not think much of this present generation of gutless politicians and their supporters. Neither would they recognise Blair's use of the word "patriotic". No, true patriotism and surrender to Europe did not mix then and will never, ever mix.
Andrew Ponsford, Newport, South Wales

Wind forward 5 years, assuming there is any effective British legislation. The British public will either dump Mr Blair, or he will hand over to Gordon Brown. Never fear - a nice lucrative post will be found in EU, just like it was for other failed politicians who want to secure their pension. Patriotism, British interest, more like self interest from the elected great and good.
David Morris, Basingstoke, UK

When I hear the comment by those in favour of the Euro that a common taxation policy will not result, I have to laugh at their gullibility. How can a major currency function properly without a high level of taxation uniformity. It is impossible and for politicians to say anything else is a lie, plain and simple.

As for being better off by being in the Euro well, those that take this stance have obviously not looked at the currency exchange rates. We should remember that Tony and his party have already deceived us with talk of more police and better hospitals. They will say anything and sell their granny to suit their own ends.
Clive, Dorking, UK


How do think Britain will interact with the world in 1,000 years time?

Bob, London, UK
Ask yourself a question, how do think Britain will interact with the world in 1,000 years time? Will it be much like the sovereign nations of Mercia and Wessex that grudgingly joined to form the "super-state" England shortly before 1066 and all that?
Bob, London, UK

Of course we can be patriotic and pro-European, people in Britain seem to forget that its a fact of life and geography, we are European.
Stuart Kinnear, Scottish Borders

I feel frustrated by the lack of a sensible debate about Europe. The BBC continually present us with the lowest form of comment eg: 'I want to keep the Pound because I'm British'.
Richard Hunt, Oxford OXON

How silly we get when economics, politics and patriotism are mixed together. If we must have this debate lets include all the other silly options: why don't we adopt the dollar, join the USA as another off-shore state, and in return for giving them their back-door to Europe and a slice of the history they so much admire, demand that the Queen is recognised as the 'notional' head of state (as she is in Britain today) thus forming the world's largest and most successful monarchy? No? OK, looks like it's Europe then!
Forbes, London, Britain

Our "friends" across the Atlantic? You must mean the Canadians or the Mexicans. I personally would never even set foot in the US, on principle, even on a connecting flight.
Rick White, Cheltenham, UK

In the USA it seems perfectly normal to be a proud citizen of Texas, California or Massachusetts (or whatever) while still being a proud American. Pride for one simply doesn't exclude pride for the other.
Julian Church, Leeds, UK

I must admit to being undecided about the single currency, but I am certainly a fan of being in the EU. What I do not understand is why people complain about the current government's policy. It seems very sensible to me to look at the conditions economically and wait for them to be favourable, then ask the people. At least a referendum campaign will force the people on both sides to feed us information. Frankly, the Tory Party policy on this issue is patronising to say the least.
Andy, Hertford, UK

Bill from Slough asks why Europe wants us in. Well, the UK has one of Europe's largest economies. The fact is that we do shape many European policies, which we certainly cannot do without going further in.
John Casey, Manchester


Blair is blowing smoke when he thinks Britain can take a leadership role in Europe.

Bill, Slough
Euro or not, super state or not, Blair is blowing smoke when he thinks Britain can take a leadership role in Europe. The numbers, geography and values don't add up. 59m people on the periphery of 350m, with the biggest block being 100m (Germany); and a thought and value system which is so fundamentally different is not a good platform from which to take a leadership position. So what are the Europeans going to be looking to us for from a leadership perspective. Yes, they want us in....but why?
Bill, Slough

By campaigning to get Britain out of the EU, it is the UKIP and the Tories who are being unpatriotic. An isolated Britain would be a weak Britain, with little say in world affairs and limited economic opportunities. Europe serves as a counterbalance to our relationship with the US, without which we would soon become subservient to US policy.
Terry Johnson, Oxford. UK


Economic structure has got nothing to do with patriotism

Christa, UK
I am getting increasingly fed-up by the style of the discussion about whether Britain should leave the EU. I do not understand you people. Economic structure has got nothing to do with patriotism.
Christa, UK

For William Hague and the Tories, joining the Euro is something too awful to contemplate. Yet absurdly, their argument only holds good for the duration of one parliament. Logically, therefore, Mr Hague is allowing for a future Tory government that might want Britain to join the euro. Mr Hague should tell us whether he would rule out Britain ever joining the euro while he was prime minister.
Richard Condon, Bewdley, Worcs

Placing such hysterical emphasis on what is and what isn't the unit of currency indicates a pretty hollow concept of national identity. What about the values and ideas that matter, such as social responsibility, fairness and progress? These have traditionally been genuine positive attributes of the British that have been admired around the world but Europe as a whole is rapidly overtaking us.
Andy, UK


This xenophobic bleating from the likes of Hague is pathetic

Neil Halliday, UK
Are there people out there who really think the Italians or the French are going to allow their national identities to be suppressed? Of course they're not and neither will we. This xenophobic bleating from the likes of Hague is pathetic; he trusts the British people all right but not over the Euro even when he says the opinion polls back him up. I'm not wild over the idea of the Euro but I want to have a say in whether we sign up to it or not. Blair said it himself, 'Do you want to join the euro? Yes or No?' What's wrong with that question?
Neil Halliday, United Kingdom

Most people now use credit cards and don't care what the currency is called. The Tories would have us go back to bushels, farthings and guineas if they had their way.
George B W Ritchie, Edinburgh Lothian


The economic case for a single currency is incredibly weak

Peter Arnold, London, UK
The economic case for a single currency is incredibly weak. Reduced currency transaction costs represent a minuscule saving, especially as the risk can be incorporated into any trade. The loss of control over interest rates and the economy would have a far greater impact. A rational person would say yes to free trade but no to a single currency.
Peter Arnold, London, UK

People don't seem to be able to put the issue on Europe into perspective. How is it that no other European country seems to have the same level of 'patriotic' concerns that we do? Worrying about the differences between us and other continental European countries is not an issue. Are the Germans like the Italians; are the Dutch like the Spanish? Have any of those countries appeared to lose any of their national identity and pride?
Kathryn Q, London, UK


I will never swear an oath of allegiance to an EU super state

Paul, London, UK
I would like to warn the government that if any EU police or EU soldiers ever have sway over the UK then I would be the first in line to evict them. I am a subject of Her Majesty the Queen and her government. I will never swear an oath of allegiance to an EU super state.
Paul, London, UK

Euro notes and coins due to be replace national currencies in 2002. It will be interesting to see how the people of Germany react to this over the next few months. 70% of Germans are against giving up the mark (they never had the opportunity to vote for this in a referendum). Patriotism has nothing to do with Europe and the euro. You can't ignore the views of 70% of the population and just expect them to accept it - that way leads to anarchy and war.
Chris, UK

I am deeply worried about integrating further into Europe. If a European super state is introduced how long will it last? Look at what happened in the former USSR and the Balkans, where countries with different languages and cultures were forced together by politics. Will people never learn from history?
Josephine, London

It is not a matter of patriotism. It is simply this: do you want to be governed by a small nation's parliament with a thousand years of practice, or a large new government system which is a politician's dream? If it's not broke, why fix it?
Nick, Northumberland

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