Many people argue that we as an island do not belong “in” Europe. We have always stood off at a distance and got involved in Europe only when we had to. This vote expresses our true nature as the Island Race to which we can now return.
Others say the World is getting smaller and that leaving the EU makes us an irrelevant little country with no real influence and at the mercy of events caused by decisions made elsewhere.
I hope both are wrong. I think that, paradoxically, as an island we have always been more outward-looking than many nations. Coastal peoples usually are. From the days when we were linked to the Continent as a result of our kings’ holdings of titles and lands such as Normandy and Gascony, to the days when we had the Empire.
Even the legends of King Arthur involve overseas travel.
As a child, I used to live in Southport where there were a lot of retired people. Some were former colonial administrators, others were ex-soldiers, but many more had been seafarers or had had business interests overseas. I heard a lot about Africa, India and lots of other parts of the World. In many countries it would have been unusual to hear of life beyond your own town or village. All that before the EU or the Internet.
Does this affect my writing? Yes! You will often find characters in my books who are foreigners, or who go abroad at some stage in the story. It just seems natural to me.
One of the negative effects of our EU membership has been the decline of some of our great port cities, such as Liverpool, Glasgow and Bristol. This is because our trade across the Atlantic and beyond has dwindled as that with the Continent has increased. Hence the growth of some of our eastern ports. However, all is not lost. I have visited the International Festival of Business in Liverpool. It is obvious that many people think that city and region have a future. Perhaps leaving the EU will be the spur to the expansion of trade with everywhere else.
To me, the worst thing we can do now is to pull up the drawbridge and become Little Englanders. My hope is that the opposite will happen: that we will build up our contacts with the rest of the World as well as negotiating a satisfactory arrangement with the EU.
People often claim History is on our side. I hope so. Let us not forget that Geography is on our side too!