Do Europeans dislike England?
The short answer is ‘No'.
The long answer, from a personal point of view:
I am Dutch, 38 years old.
I've always been charmed by British people. That goes back to a very early age. We used to go on holiday to Normandy and Brittany, in France, a lot. We usually stayed at the ‘better' camping sites, where a lot of British people stayed. My brothers and I would always befriend English kids, we weren't really interested in kids from other nationalities. We were familiar with English, so the language was not an issue (which it was with the French or Germans).
I've worked from 2002–2004 in an Irish Pub in the Netherlands. Staff was mainly English speaking: Irish and English. The main language between ourselves was English. The British and Irish customers were more interesting than the Dutch ones.
I moved to the UK in 2009, to be with my English partner who I had met 3 years earlier, in 2006.
At first, all seemed to be fine. I had no problems adjusting, and, as mentioned before, English was not a problem. The UK is only a short distance away from the Netherlands, so there can't be much of a difference.. ..Right?
I can split my time, here in the UK, in 2:
The first 5.5 years: The first 5.5 years were good. I was positive about the future. I came here to build up a life, be a good citizen, raise a family, and die of old age.
Finding a decent job was difficult, but I was willing to start at the bottom. I am a chef with 20 years' experience. I took whichever job I could get, not pinning myself down on certain demands. I've gone as far as taking a job as ‘Kitchen-Assistant' (far below my capabilities).
The main problem I ran into is how you are being treated as an employee. You are just ‘a little cog in a machine'....A very strong ‘Keep your head down & mouth shut' hierarchy. Your input and knowledge is not being appreciated; besides that, I am still getting paid like I am a 25-year-old, just fresh out of college.
As said, I am Dutch. One of the frequent things being said about Dutch people is that they are ‘Direct'.
I've been here long enough that I know I have to be careful with my choice of words, but it doesn't seem to be enough.
Again the ‘Hierarchy on the work floor' in the UK, managers do not accept that. Eventually argument ends in the manager ‘jumping up & down', banging fists on the table, shouting "You will respect my authority!!"
I have questioned my ‘social skills' a lot....But I don't have this problem when I talk to strangers, people I know, or my English family members (apart from my partner's sister).
I've been reading into a lot of different subjects, ‘politics' for 1. I have never been so much into politics as I am now. Mainly British politics, because that affects my life directly...But also Dutch politics (will come back on that later).
I've come to see a completely different Britain than before I moved to the UK. Mind you, I was not ignorant. Dutch people do learn a lot about other countries, and back then the news was fairly accurate, too. I knew that what we saw in those nice, British TV series like ‘Keeping up appearances' or ‘Inspector Morse' was not how Britain really is.
I usually put the decline at 40 years, the time Margaret (‘Maggot') Thatcher came to power...But arguably you can go back further.
The last 4 years (Nearly): Despite doing my best to try to give my family a decent future...I strongly feel this country is a dead end. I've worked hard, but it feels I am always ‘destined' to stay at the bottom. Working full-time doesn't give you enough money to survive till the end of the month.
That has nothing the do with the UK itself. The UK is a rich country, and a lot is possible here. It comes down to ‘Politics'...
Maybe once upon a time this country had a more social structure of politics, but after Margaret Thatcher coming to power in 1979, there is nothing left of it.
Public services are being stripped ‘to the bone', wages don't rise enough, benefits are being reduced, not enough Full-Time Jobs (0 hour contracts or Part-Time...Suits the Employer better). Governments constantly lie and deceive people.. ...In short, life standards are dropping.
This makes people unhappy. Unhappiness leads to frustration, anger and distrust...Which is a breeding ground for ‘Extremism' and ‘Extremist Ideologies'.
People look for something to blame, or someone, and....That usually turns out to be the ‘Foreigner'.
Brexit is *not* the problem, it's part of the problem. If British society had been healthy, Brexit would never have happened. British blame it on the EU, they should really blame it on their own political system.
2014 is really the ‘pivotal' moment in my opinion about the UK. Still too early to notice Brexit....The referendum hadn't even been held yet. I cannot put it on politics yet.
Really my experience, as an employee, was what made me start to realise that there are differences, and despite my trying to adjust.. ..I started to feel different, and not fully accepted as a part of British Society.
The 2015 elections, and the Conservatives winning again, was what made me, slowly but surely, start to notice Politics...And the devastating effect which comes with it.
Brexit is just a product of it. As mentioned before, Politics affects people's lives, and people become unhappy. UKIP's ‘voice' became stronger....And with it the ‘Anti-EU' rhetoric. All of a sudden it felt like Britain saw us, EU nationals, as parasites.
The Brexit referendum, and the GE of 2017, have been the most ‘nerve-racking' political moments of my life.
Brexit has turned my life upside down already...But there was still some hope in the GE of 2017. That hope got trashed when the DUP took the £1 billion bribe to form a government with the Tories. The Tories do anything in their power to stay in power, and bring this country to the edge.
I'd be exaggerating if I said I notice ‘Discrimination' on a daily basis....But it is there.
I've had massive arguments, with colleagues, who kept attacking Polish and Romanian people.. .. To which I would reply: "Hey, I am a foreigner too!". I, more than once, received the reply: "....But you are different.". No, I am not, I am just as much a foreigner, as a Dutch person, as Polish or Romanian people.
French exchange students staying over at my neighbours' flat. As soon as little kids heard them speak French "Fuck OFF to your own country".
The ‘Mainstream Media', like the Daily Mail, keep posting articles in which EU nationals (but all foreigners) are being demonised. MP's, who do dare to voice their concern, are being called ‘traitors' in the same newspapers.
The ‘hostile' verbal discrimination is something which usually leaves me alone...It's the hidden discrimination, which people don't even notice, which hurt the most.
Relatives of my partner have voted for UKIP and Brexit....
My partner's dad always blames everything on the EU. At some point he even admitted that he hates foreigners....And from people like him, I hear things like, ‘But you are different'.
There is a lot of ‘low-key' discrimination. The ‘funny' jokes, or comments. When I go to the ‘little shop around the corner', there is an employee who thinks it's funny to say "Oh, so you are still here?!"....I know he doesn't realise how that feels, but things like that happen a lot.
I am a white guy, and don't stand out from British people. I do, however, worry that as soon as I open my mouth, and people hear I don't have a British accent, that abuse will start.
-The drop for me-
I walked away from my last job. The bullying of management, and other colleagues, became unbearable.
We are in Universal Credit (UC), so I was expected to look for work. I have applied to so many jobs.....And never received any reply back, save maybe 2. No interviews at all.
I've done training courses to be able to find work in different sectors, but that didn't help either.
1/2 year later....HRT (Habitual Residency Test). Something DWP ( Department for Work & Pension) likes to keep ‘harassing' foreigners with. I've done 9, in 9 years in the UK. Nothing has changed in my situation.
The UK has pushed through 2 new Immigration acts. The 2014 one, Theresa May (then-Secretary of the Home Office) was still limited by how much she could do. That limitation fell away during the drafting of the 2016 Immigration Act: 6 months unemployed, and your Right to Reside is being taken away.
I have been classified, after having lived in the UK legally for 9 years, as ‘Someone who is living outside of the UK'.
Right to Reside is very important. ‘Without', anything your name can be terminated. Landlords can break up tenancy agreements; banks can close down your bank accounts; employers can fire you; no entitlement to Healthcare...All can be taken away.
I am saying ‘Can', because all that hasn't happen to me....yet. The UK is still part of the EU, and thus EU nationals are protected by EU Law. Thus I am being classed a ‘Lawful Presence' now. For now the government can't touch me.
That'll change after March 29th 2019.. ..By that time I will have lived 10 years, legally, in the UK....
I have lived here 9.5 years now. My partner (Fiancee) is English, and my kids were born here. I have never left the country. Worked here, and paid taxes. Never had any run-ins with the Police. Paid my bills on time...
...And yet everything points in the direction of getting declared ‘unwanted'.
If I am being ‘requested' to leave, I am forced to leave my family behind. I do not have the financial means to take them with me.
At a later date, after I have settled in The Netherlands, I can have them come join me.
To close it off
I don't dislike British people. I know it's not the whole British population which is Anti-Foreigner, I've met many good people here.
It's also not a British problem; I can say the same about my own country, I see a lot of parallels.
Even if by some miracle the UK sorted itself out. Tories out, Labour in...For example. UK stays in the EU. Life improves here...
...I wouldn't even in the slightest consider staying.
I've had enough.
-Edited 15th of June 2018-
I would like to thank everyone for the replies I have received.
Oh, I remembered an article, written by someone I have contact with, which perfectly describes how many of us, EU Nationals, feel.
England is a soft skills superpower, possibly THE soft skills superpower.
I love music and 95% of the music I listen to is English. I love movies and TV, and 90% of the actors and productions I admire are English.
English literature is the best in the world and the English language is phenomenal.
I love English passion for conservation and Mr Attenborough is an absolute hero of mine.
I love English humour, whit, sarcasm and yes, I even love English nostalgia even though part of it is one of the root-causes of your little trantrum against Europe.
And I know that these sentiments are mirrored in most of my friends who come from many different walks of life and parts of Europe.
As a Dutch man living in the Republic of Ireland I am actually stunned to see the absolute adoration of the Irish for all things English even though England sentenced Ireland to indentured servitude for 600 years and permitted millions to starve to death while under British rule just over a century ago.
Europeans absolutely love England and things associated with it, beyond what's reasonable.
Now here's what we don't love about you:
- your political system and politicians in general, Theresa May (incompetent) and Nigel Farage (scary) in particular
- Your condescendance towards anything not English
- Rupert Murdoch and his toxic brand of media coverage
- Your sabotaging of European integration, resulting in the suboptimal EU that you are rejecting now
- Your thought-leadership in rampant capitalism and opportunism resulting in the current unstable global economy
You don't win in the Eurovision Song Contest because you a) don't send in anything extraordinary and b) the system is rigged against central and Western European countries (compared to Scandinavia, Balkan Countries, Russia & CIS Countries, etc.). Deal with it.
In football you are no longer the team to beat and haven't really been since the 60s. The English Premier League is the cause of your demise as a football superpower, as it discourages homegrown talent and unless you start handing out British passports to all your non-British star players this will not change. We Europeans are actually mistified why you are always disappointed by the performance of your national team.
But I digress.
The English have always gotten their way: one country when it suits but four national teams participating in sports events, you got to keep the pound, lessened financial controls to benefit your banking sector, hell - even less chocolate content in your Cadbury.
Essentially you got cherry-pick your EU membership while contributing much less per capita than other membership countries who are more heavily invested like The Netherlands and Germany.
And still it is not enough.
And still we like you on an indivual level.
But you want to leave
And we want you to leave now.
I am French and I would give you some clues about why some people in South of France really hates the Brits. It is not about the Brits. It is more about the Brits as a symbol of globalization side effects.
The source of this hate is mainly economic and cultural.
The example I would give happen in many countries with diverse scapegoat, but in France, the designated wealthy guilty people are the Brits.
In south of France, we have lovely small villages and towns. Due to the lack of jobs with high responsibility, the average earning is pretty low in these region -around 15/20 000 euros a year per working person-, so the housing was affordable. With the low price on flight ticket (thanks easyjet), these villages are not far away from London, Edinburg, etc... So thank the sun and the loveliness of the place, the houses make a good secondary residences for the Brits. But the Brits seeking secondary residences have a huge buying power compare to the local. Therefore the price went up. And worse: They don't buy local and they are in the house around 15 days a year. So their money is not creating ANY jobs there. Young French people can't buy a house there due to the price increase, so they leave the region. Traditional activities that require space (farming...) are disappearing. Small villages are dying.
If you are one of the "globalization winner", please be extra aware and careful about possible downsides of your behavior.
As the Brits, some Dutch people have also a huge buying power and are seeking sunshine in Europe. But people in France don't feel annoy, oppressed or overlooked by Dutch because:
· They rent their holiday home instead of buy
· They consume local
· They respect culture and would gladly try local food or refuse politely without saying "This is disgusting!" (foie gras targeted!)
· They get the "In France, we speak French and French only" because they know what it takes to keep their language alive.
These "wealthy", urban Brits attracted hostility and bitterness from people called "globalization losers" (people who not only don't benefit from globalization, but are hurt by it). This hostility is fuelled by alt-right French nationalist party Front National and some newspapers and TV channels.
To add insult to injury, News show examples of some Brits doing medical tourism in France.
Because French people spend a larger share of their salaries on social security, it is true that, in average, people wait less to see a public doctor in France (especially dentist or an eye doctor) than their NHS counterpart. Thank to social security accords, Brits are fully reimbursed. There are few cases of medical tourism, and it insignificant compared to the benefits that these accords provided for all European citizens, including French ones.
But this marginal phenomenon is repeated again and again in the news, so that "globalization losers" believe that all France's debts issues come "those Brits who benefits from our social security".
Imagine if, in your own country, you can't afford the type of the house your parents have. You are forced to leave the place that feel like home to go somewhere uglier. People causing the price increase want to impose their life style and their culture (language, food, service level, etc...) and some consider yourself like a moron (broken English, not making as much money as they do, etc...). You definitely will feel robbed.
*Due the difference of buying power, people in south of France have the feeling to sold at a loss their local treasure. They don't live there, which occupy good space for "nothing".
*Due the cultural differences (Brits insist on speaking English, eating some British products and expect service level to be the same in a small village that in their big cities), they generate some hate.
No, at least not in Scandinavia. Most Scandinavians I've met are fairly fond of England. Its popular culture - especially music and humour - has had a massive impact on Scandinavia, and up until Germany became trendy some 10–15 years ago England was the obvious choice for Scandinavians who wanted to go on a holiday and do anything else than sunbathe (the Mediterranian) or ski (the Alps).
Especially London has had a special status among Scandinavians. Because of the lack of big cities in Scandinavia - Copenhagen is only about the size of Leeds - London has been adopted by millions of Scandinavians as "our" metropolis. It's been where Scandinavians have gone for shopping, football, musicals, clubbing and.. well, everything big city. Millions have lived there at least short term and at the moment a couple of hundred thousand Scandinavians call London their home. This has changed somewhat in the last few years what with growing gentrification turning London into a more expensive and less exciting place, and Germany - especially Berlin - looking more and more attractive. It still doesn't change the fact that the Scandinavian view of England is VERY London-centric. Which doesn't exactly help if you want to understand England...
The main view of England is... well, it's the odd one in the Germanic family. The rest of us are all blunt, industrious, serious and pretty fond of social engineering while the English are excentric, humourous, inefficient, polite and politically halfway to the US. One of the main reasons Scandinavians used to treat Germany as just an obstacle on the way to the Mediterranian was the notion of it being too similar to Scandinavia. England was different - the only "exotic" country in our part of the World.
We love your music and humour, your pub culture and your countryside (not that many of us have been there, but Midsomer Murders is on Danish, Swedish and Norwegian tv 24/7 and does a very good job of making us all believe everything outside London looks like the Cotswolds). We're also among the few people who actually find you very outgoing and approachable, even though we have huge problems communicating with you. Scandinavians are very direct - blunt to you - and your way of communicating is often misunderstood by us. I think it would be fair to say that quite a few Scandinavians percieve you as being two-faced.
Politically we find you... well, that's probably where most Scandinavians DISLIKE you. We used to be more similar but Thatcherism ended that, and nowadays England and the UK is more or less seen as an extension of the US - both for the way you treat your poor and working class, and for the way you act as a US lapdog regarding foreign policy. Most Scandinavians who live in England for a while come home appalled by your political system. We're VERY egalitarian, and you're the direct opposite. Obviously neo-liberal Scandinavians who find our society stifling love England, but they're a small minority.
Do the "continentals" or "from abroad" - as English commonly refer to us- dislike the English? Let's stick to the English and leave the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish out of it.
Well there a various reasons to really like the English:
- Good sense of humor: I rest my case...
- Very curious: yes the English are curious about anything varying from local art to local habits.
- Sociable: they might not always mean it but hey we continentals would know :)
- Love of life: the English like to enjoy themselves. Concerts, dinners you name it the English like to enjoy life
- Great cultural heritage. Do I really need to add something?
- Kindness and helpful: The English can be very kind and helpful for those in need
I can say the above come to mind when I think of some of the experiences I had with the English. I think you can feel it coming. Unfortunately there is a down side -I'd love to state it would be different- which aren't incidents.
- Arrogance and Ignorance: The English can be very much up their own a**es , vpatronising and ignorant about other cultures. Exceptions there
- Boozing and Fighting: hey we all have a pint or a drink too much but why, please explain it for once!!!, why on earth would you travel somewhere as a tourist, get plastered at 16h in the afternoon and start causing problems?
- Travelling: oh yes we continentals all have our experiences travelling. But why do English guys travel in groups and expect to be treated the same way as in the UK with the same food as in the UK at a cheaper price? Now I am talking Golf Weekends. Stag nights see the previous points. Respect Local Habits and Cultures for once!
- Sex obsessed. Why does everything have to be about shagging and other more subtle sexual inuendo? I am not basing this on Geordie Shores
- Class devide. As one English friend said: "the Concorde gave the upper class access to New York. Ryan Air gave the council estate access to Amsterdam and Dublin" Class does matter in England it is visible in society. A wrong accent can stall your promising career. Wrong area code? Pity for you. There goes your access to decent or excellent schools
Do I dislike the English? NOOOOOO! I have some very good English friends. The funny thing is about my answer is that my pro's somehow contradict my "cons" so it is fair to state that with any person you might the English come in many shapes and sizes.
I do think that the Brexit isn't the wisest of choices. But that is a different discussion
Absolutely not. We actually love Brits for many reasons:
- they are the most funny, hilarious people on earth (with Romans, those living in Rome), making the best and most hilarious movies and TV series (like a Fish called Wanda which I must have seen 15 times)
- They are serious about democracy, far more than US. For a long time, Britains was NOT a democracy at all, this is a myth. But it truly became so during WWI and WWII. There is no doubt about that.
- British press and media are the best in the World, including the Tabloids (yep, people read the press in the UK and that' great). BBC is outstanding, 100000 times better than CNN and Fox (yet, I must say French radio is really good too, particularly Radio France International, France culture...). My son is a journalist: I always advise him to go there to learn how to be a real journalist!
- We love the Queen, truly we love her and her colourful dresses.
- We hate their food, and we are right, although in London (but this is London) their restaurant is of better quality than in Paris.
- We hate them to drive on left line, but we love it too.
- True French wine experts are British, not French.
- We liked how they behaved during WWII. We love Churchill, truly, maybe as much as De Gaulle.
Now, they don't like us, French in particular, what can we do about it?