Whether the vote next week turns out to be 'Remain' or 'Leave', one thing is certain: This referendum is a big fuck you to the other 27 countries that are members of the European Union. Twenty seven countries that all probably have their doubts about the European Dream from time to time, but that have, so far, never seriously considered leaving the Union.
We asked the editors of our European offices how much they care about Britain staying in the family. They were kind enough to illustrate their point not only in words, but with images too.
FRANCE - Britain will be an island again
The main problem with Britain leaving the EU is that some people in the 27 remaining countries will want to follow suit. Many EU-countries have a hardline populist base who want to "regain their independence from Germany and France" – even if the relative economic stability in those countries comes from free exchange with other EU nations and European subsidies. But most importantly: it would be a shame if the UK left us, as it would end the big, common effort to build something strong, after the nightmares that were the two world wars.
But in the end, it would reflect a truth about the Brits we've long suspected: British people don't consider themselves to be European. They like to soak up our sun and import our cooks, but being associated with the people – the lazy Southern Europeans, the drunk Eastern Europeans, the humourless Germans, or the lazy, drunken, humourless, crazy French – that's a different story. No man is an island, but Britain is. And if you leave, you'll be an island in more than one way again.
- Julien Morel, VICE France
AUSTRIA - You can't choose your family
Hey Britain, it seems you're considering leaving the European family. You might say now, "Which bloody family?" but I can assure you that that's a question everyone has asked themselves at some point or other in their lives. You can't choose your family, you just have to deal with the one you have.
In these times, we shouldn't be competing or fighting, we should share and help each other. Your German aunt might be a bit too bossy and your Greek cousin always moody and strapped for cash, there may be more cousins each time you get together, but why leave? We love and respect you for who you are. We tuck you in at night, after you drunkenly walk our streets in miniskirts. We'll let you drive on the left for as long as you want to. We don't mind you paying with your own currency. If you want to give in to your identity crisis and cut ties with your family that's fine, dear Britain, but know you'll end up miserable and alone under the Christmas tree.
- Jakob Steiner, VICE Austria
GREECE - Britain stole the "-exit" from us
Britain, for the love of God, you have a different currency, we need passports to get to you, you always get special treatment and your weather's terrible. So what difference will getting out of the EU make in your life? Plus, to be honest: you've been threatening to leave for decades, which makes it hard to take you seriously now.
Could it be that you were just jealous of all the attention Greece was getting for a while? It was called a "Grexit" long before anyone ever thought of the term "Brexit", you know.
– Anna Nini, VICE Greece
THE NETHERLANDS - No more champagne for you
This is what Britain will look like if it leaves the EU, according to our Dutch office (Photo via)
A while ago, I read in The Telegraph that Downing Street had started serving a drink described as 'English sparkling wine' – instead of Moët or Pommery. I'm guessing that was an attempt to show that the UK can manage fine without the European mainland. That's a grave mistake – by replacing champagne with some other fizzy wine-like drink you're missing the point of drinking champagne. Which is to show the world you're the kind of person who can afford to spend a ridiculous amount of money on something nobody really likes.
I find this to be a great metaphor for the Brexit. Yes, the UK will manage on it's own, it might even be cheaper for you, I don't know. But it'll make you a lot less interesting. In the long run, all the important people will want to go and hang out with the French – these guys will always have the finest bubbly on offer. But if you prefer cheap English sparkly wine, that's cool. We'll have to respect that. We'll be on the mainland, respecting your decisions, champagne flute in hand.
– Nils de Lange, VICE Netherlands
GERMANY – We've had it with your commitment issues
This is what Britain will look like if it leaves the EU, according to our German office. (Photo by Grey Hutton, via.)
We Germans care about Britain leaving, we do. But, at the same, it's very clear to us: if you want to leave so badly, why don't you go ahead and see how that works out for you? You'll come crawling back, make no mistake.
We're hurt. We've worked so hard to try to make this relationship work. We gave you everything and still you can't tear yourself away from that abusive ex of yours – the United States. Remember that time they Yo, Blaired you? We haven't. The Americans may be more exciting, more impulsive and more colourful than we are but you know we're the healthier choice, don't you? Yet at this point, it's just getting sad and desperate. We're done asking you to stay. We'll miss you, of course. We'll miss your sense of humour, your crooked smile, your position on French people. We won't miss the heartache, though. So go, if you have to. But please don't.
- Matern Boeselager, VICE Germany
SWEDEN - What will happen to all the Anglophile Swedes?
To be honest, we're very thankful for Cox apples, Kano's face and grime in general, but we Swedes aren't very dependent on you. We've had a great time with you in the EU, but if you decide to leave and pull out early, that's up to you. Our biggest concern regarding the Brexit has to do with the fact that there are about 90.000 Swedes currently living in the UK. What will happen to them, when you leave? Will they be forced to leave England and return to us with their newfound taste for Jeremy Kyle, coke and bathroom mould? That would be unfortunate.
We simply don't have the tools to make anglophile Swedes feel comfortable here again. With our double glazed windows, 480 days of paid parental leave and lack of celebrity gossip, there's no way we could accommodate the Swedish diaspora from the UK. So maybe you'd consider staying?
- Camila-Catalina Fernandez, VICE Sweden
DENMARK - We'll miss you, but you're never getting back in again
We'd miss you, if you left. The EU is like telling a class of 28 different kids, who don't necessarily like each other, to get along and agree on things they might not understand or care about. In this class, you were our friend, our equal. You are our cocaine-loving and hard-drinking – yet remarkably less attractive – mate. And whatever the outcome of your referendum, one thing is certain: If you vote leave, you're never getting in again. We have more self-respect than to take back a friend who left us when we needed you most. It's been great partying with you, but it seems you might leave the party as prematurely as your pubs close. We expected more from you. It's just not cool to leave early from a party that you helped start.
Come to think of it, your refusal to join the Schengen agreement should have been a warning. The fact that you won't even let us, your fellow EU-citizens, in without a passport only reminds us of a partner who still, after God knows how many years, won't even give you a wank without wearing rubber gloves.
- Lars Jellestad, VICE Denmark
POLAND - Won't someone think of the lads?
I looked up to Britain when I was a teenager. You were cool back in those days – the kind of coolness that comes naturally from having good taste and being friendly, funny and charming. Britain was one of the first places I visited after Poland joined the EU in 2004, because I wanted to see the place all my favourite bands came from (please bear in mind this was the time Pete Doherty was considered a prophet by many).
I was a little disappointed to find that Britain is not necessarily the best place on Earth and you do have your own problems, but I've always enjoyed coming back. Just like you guys love coming to Poland. A lot of you. Which makes me wonder: Have you really thought this leaving thing through? Have you thought of what's going to happen to the hordes of lads travelling to all the EU countries to drown in weekend-long pub crawls? Imagine all those men suddenly being confined to your own borders. And what do you think will happen to the price of those cans of Tyskie's you love so much? And all the minimum-wage jobs Central Europeans are working now – are you guys going to do all that? It's fine if you do of course, it's up to you. It will just make everything a lot more awkward.
- Macieck Piasecki, VICE Poland
SPAIN - Were you ever really in?
To be honest, in our mind, you're already gone. Or rather, you never actually joined. Think about it: You've got your own currency, your steering wheels are on the other side of the car and you drive on the other side of the road. You weigh in things like pounds and stones, you measure in feet and miles, drink in pints and gallons. You eat a lot of greasy, battered stuff and there's a sea between us. A sea of actual water.
Britain wanting to leave the EU and having this referendum is like hearing that one girl who's connected to your extended friend group, but who you don't really talk to or have anything in common with, publicly debating whether or not to hang out with you anymore. It's not something we can take personally.
- Pol Rodellar, VICE Spain
ITALY - Show some gratitude
If you guys decided to leave the EU, we'd be hurt. According to official numbers, there are about half a million Italians in the UK – half of them in London alone. The officially registered Italians in the UK together could make up the 7th biggest city in Italy – about the size of Genoa. So the people you'd be either kicking out or kidnapping are our friends and family – and you know how much we value family over here. We've sent you many of our best cooks, best waiters, best bike messengers and worst students. Leaving the EU isn't the most effective way to say thank you for that.
And have you considered how a Brexit could affect your internal politics? Not everybody in your country is so enamoured with the concept of Great Britain as your Leave voters are. I was living in Scotland during their referendum, and Britain leaving the EU might make the Scots reconsider their union with Britain. If you make them leave the EU, they're very welcome to leave you and stay with us.
– Elena Viale, VICE Italy
ROMANIA - It would be a tragedy
Frankly, the average Romanian doesn't care much about the Brexit because we have other things to worry about – like severe poverty in our country, or the fact that our hospitals are killing us with infections. On the other hand: A lot of Romanian high-school graduates are trying to get into UK colleges and to be able to afford that, some Romanian parents slave away for low wages, take heavy bank loans or do menial labour in Italy or Spain. For those people, the Brexit would probably be a tragedy.
There is an estimated 350,000 Romanians currently working or studying in the UK. Most of the UK-based Romanians we spoke to think this referendum is a bit of a joke, because their British coworkers don't believe it will happen. Yet, even though Britain leaving the EU would be a tragedy, at least we might have some fun seeing Prince Charles stuck at a Romanian customs office for hours on one of his annual visits to his Romanian properties – some border patrol officers might expect a little something extra when they're checking a non-EU passport.
- Mihai Popescu, VICE Romania
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