I've always found that, among arguments against Brexit, the one that says 'Britain has historic links to Europe' the most bizarre. Here's Yasmin Alibhai-Brown lecturing us about it (but don't pay too close attention to the facts as they're a tad dodgy):
London was built by Romans when they occupied and controlled the land. Vikings settled in England in AD 373. By the 13th century, our market towns bustled with French, Venetian, Flemish buyers and sellers.We could, of course, go on to note the contribution of that Englishman, Alcuin to the court of Charles the Great, how Byron, Shelley and others traipsed around Italy and Greece having a fine old time while writing the occasional poem, and the tales of many merchants, soldiers and scientists.
Dutch and German brewers supplied beer to Brits. The Black plague of 1348 killed almost a third of Britain’s population and Europeans flooded in to fill labour shortages.
Do most Brexiters realise that despised and persecuted French protestant refugees helped set up the Bank of England? Or that in the Tudor and Stuart periods, European artisans, scientists, artists and inventors settled in England? Several members of the Royal College of Physicians were German; Austrians taught at Oxford and Cambridge, the father of the great engineer Isambard Brunel was French and so on and on.
But that's missing the point. All this stuff - the trade with Europe, the foreigners who came to live in London, the high end tourism of the Grand Tour - took place without us needing to be welded into the iron lung of the EU. We managed all this collaboration, co-operation and trade without any blocs, pseudo-democracy and officious regulation.
There are arguments for and against us leaving the EU but citing stuff that happened hundreds of years before it even existed (and where the idea of European unity consisted of one or other megalomaniac dragging armies across the continent) really isn't a good one.