‘The “Britain is not Europe” claim has always struck me as tedious and wrong,’
Funny that, because I find the inability of many people on this site to see any difference or nuance within Europe as equally tedious and wrong. Regular statements beginning “Europe is...” or “Europeans are” show a distinct lack of understanding.
The fact that for most of our history we have been completely separate from the main land has huge practical and psychological implications. Ignoring the “whole other kettle of fish” that is our relationship with Ireland we have never had land borders or immediate neighbours to manage or worry about.
As an island nation with, until relatively recently, a vast global empire, it would be odd if we didn’t view ourselves as different to the mainland.
Historically many of our population would be much more likely to visit India or Africa than Europe. My great uncle is a good example of that. Fighting in WWII he spent years in India and Burma, to my knowledge he never crossed the channel. My grandad was a minor officer on the White Star Line. His records show voyages to South and North America, West Africa, Australia again I don’t think he ever visited the mainland. Both were very ordinary working class men who had a global outlook, not a European one.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way anti-EU. I think Brexit is a disaster but I think the expectation/assumption of a single European identity, geographical or otherwise, is part of the reason we are in this mess.