A 'Vote Leave' sign is seen by the roadside in Smarden urging people to vote for Brexit in the upcoming EU referendum is seen on the roadside near Charing south east of London on June 16, 2016. AFP / BEN STANSALL
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LONDON: First Scottish independence, now the EU: holding two potentially seismic referendums in two years reveals how Britain is wrestling with its identity, stuck between nostalgia for an empire lost and an uncertain future. Even though the country has an open, cosmopolitan image – and London is one of the most vibrant cities in the world – Britain is suffering inside from an existential malaise, unsure of its place in the modern world, historians say.Seventy years ago, Britain ruled an empire under which, at its zenith, a quarter of the world's population lived. More than 70 years after the 1945 Victory in Europe, the wartime heritage remains strong in Britain, where Spitfires are regularly used in flyovers.After the war, Britain could still consider itself among the world's top three powers, and viewed the European project from a distance.Katwala said Britain being an island that has not been successfully invaded since 1066 was "central" to its relations with the rest of Europe.
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