Mark, I’m puzzled by your statement that the UK prior to joining the EU “wasn’t that bad.” I returned to the UK in the early 1970s after living in Africa for a few years. What I found was: a nation of power cuts, a nation of garbage piling up and rotting on the streets, a nation riven with endless strikes including those by workers in the emergency services. I found a gloomy depressed little island where everyone was harking back to the “glory days” and deeply pessimistic about the future. It was a backward, inward-looking, insular little place.
Sadly, that is precisely where the UK is heading again. Only this time, now that there’s the example of breaking away from a former association, we can hope that Scotland and Northern Ireland refuse to be dragged down by the English. If only Spain can get over its obsession with hanging on to Catalonia at all costs, perhaps the two former parts of the UK can rejoin the EU and once again have outward-looking societies willing to engage with future challenges rather than attempting to run away from them and hide under the bed of nostalgia for a past that never actually existed.