Rupert writes for his colleague Ulrike Trebesius MEP, a fellow member of the ECR Group from Germany.
Many of the decisions we make in life are based on facts, but others are based on emotions. Sometimes we have to choose between facts and emotions. Sometimes the facts and emotions both point the same way. This is true of nations as well as of people. It was true of the Brexit decision.
For centuries the British have thought of themselves as being linked to Europe, but not part of it. We are friends with Europe, but not a member of the same family. That strip of water between us has been very important to our emotions. We think of ourselves as being an island people, a people closely connected to the sea.
Language is important to our emotions too. British television and cinemas can show movies or programmes made in America, Australia or New Zealand very easily. But films made in Germany, Italy or France need to have subtitles added or to have dialogue dubbed. That makes them expensive, so most film or television companies do not bother. In Britain, we watch far more television shows made in Australia than we do those made in Germany.
And many people in Britain have family members living in Australia, India, Pakistan, New Zealand or America. That produces strong emotions too.
But enough of emotions. What about facts?
The culture of Britain is a European culture. The language we speak is a European language. Britain is a group of islands off the coast of Europe. In particular we have long had strong links to northern Europe. Our royal family had its ancestry in Germany. We drink beer and eat herrings.
Then there is business. For centuries, Britain did far more trade with Europe than with the rest of the world. British people have traditionally gone on holiday to Europe more than to elsewhere. British students study in European universities.
It was because of these facts that British politicians took us into the European Economic Community (as it then was) in 1973.
But then the facts began to change. Britain began to do more trade with the rest of the world than with Europe. Today we make far more money trading with the rest of the world than we do trading with Europe. Cheap air flights mean more people can go on holiday to Disney World in Florida or to India. Facebook means British people could swap photos with relatives in Australia every day, not just phone them once a year as they used to do. The rest of the world has got much closer and much more important to Britain.
And so emotions and facts became aligned.
In the 1990s, some British people began asking why Britain needed to be a part of the European Union. By the time of our referendum in 2016 the answer was that we didn’t.
But we are not leaving Europe, we are leaving the European Union.
The British have always thought of themselves as being linked to Europe, but not being part of it. Friends, but not family. That is where we feel comfortable. It is where we are going.
We wish you well on your journey into the future. We hope you wish us well on our voyage.