Its Reluctance Notwithstanding, Britain Is a Part of Europe

The Island's History and Destiny Are Tethered to the Continent, but It Still Fights for Its Sense of Exceptionalism

The cars zipping unexpectedly by from right to left as you try to cross the street can be jarring for an American newly arrived in Britain. But it’s nowhere near as disorienting as hearing the locals talk about “Europe” as being somewhere else. It begs the existentialist question: If I’m not in Europe, where exactly have I landed?

Indeed, that same question has haunted British and European history for more than a millennium. On the one hand, Shakespeare’s “precious stone set in a silver sea,” is an island apart. It has …