There is one number that strikes at the heart of the problem: 29 percent. Not even one in three Britons trusts European Union institutions. Citizens’ confidence in the E.U. is only lower in crisis-ridden Greece, according to a survey by the European Commission.
There are many reasons for British euroskepticism, which will culminate in two weeks with the referendum on European Union membership. These include the country’s history, its island geography and its unique awareness of national sovereignty. But none of this can fully explain why, now of all times, the country is on the brink of leaving the European Union.
The momentum towards the referendum was accelerated by a series of domestic political failures. Because the government invested too little money in the healthcare and education system, hospitals and schools are now stretched to their limits. Complicated building and planning laws have worsened the housing shortage in parts of the country. Finally, costly bank bailouts in the course of the financial crisis have shaken confidence in the economic system.