I’ve never really identified myself as either English or British. Through a fluke of circumstance I happened to be born in Northern Ireland, to a mum & dad who each had one Irish and one Londoner parent.
During my teenage years I thought of myself as in some way Irish. I identified with some of the folk trends in the music world, and the Irish football teams were over-performing with first Billy Bingham’s Northern Irish and then Jack Charlton’s Republic. That I can follow both teams makes me a bit odd in the eyes of many (another family fluke is that I have ancestors on both sides of the geographic and religious divide).
But as I’ve got older I’ve realised that my “national” identity is that of a Londoner and a European. I’ve lived within the M25 for the vast majority of my 45 years. London has a cultural identity that isn’t like the rest of the UK (in the same way that many of the regions do). The European identity isn’t something that I’ve recently created to align myself to a side in the referendum debate. It’s something I’ve felt deeply for years. London. Europe.
The posturing, false statistics, fear, self-interest and general political class bullshit that has emerged on both sides in the past few weeks is depressing. It has reinforced my own self-perception of being a Londoner and a European. I’m not sure if there are others like me. I’ve certainly not heard much talk about being proud Europeans above the rants about immigration and total economic collapse.
I don’t seek to evangelise my views. I’ll be voting to remain in Europe because it is an important part of my self identify.