This analysis paper examines the likely significance of European identity in the debate about Britain’s membership of the European Union. Using data from NatCen’s British Social Attitudes survey and the European Commission’s Eurobarometer, it considers how many people in Britain feel European and analyses what relationship, if any, this identity has with people’s views on the European Union. It also assesses the relative importance of identity and more pragmatic, economic considerations in determining how people may vote in the forthcoming referendum on Britain’s EU membership.
Not a nation of ‘Europeans’
Very few people in Britain see themselves as ‘European’.
Less ‘European’ than our continental cousins
The UK stands out from other European nations as being particularly unlikely to embrace any sense of European identity.
Economics trump identity
Among those who do NOT feel European, 51% still say we should continue in the EU. Among those who think closer ties with the EU would make Britain economically weaker, just 23% say we should stay in.