Weird History

Brexit and the History of England's Rocky Relationship with Europe

In June 2016, the people of Great Britain voted to leave the European Union. The decision came as a shock to the world, and immediately affected international markets. To anyone not paying attention to the lead-up to the British Exit (Brexit) vote, the decision and resulting furor seemed like it came out of nowhere. What does anyone really know about this tiny agglomeration of island nations at the edge of the Europe, anyway? The Beatles? Shakespeare? World War II?

While the result of the Brexit vote surprised even those with some knowledge of the turbulent, on-again, off-again relationship between England and continental Europe, resentment of the European Union from the English shouldn't surprise anyone. For the vast majority of recorded history, the relationship between England (and Britain, as a whole), and the rest of Europe has been extremely tempestuous, consisting almost entirely of invasions, attempted invasions, more invasions, counter-invasions, economic conflict that nearly resulted in invasions, and, in the first half of the 20th century, all-out industrialized war.

Read on for a concise but informative history of England's on-again, off-again relationship with Europe.