03 June 2016 at 2:24 GMT
The New York Times
LIVERPOOL, England: Jackie O’Neill, a 54-year-old administrative assistant, was explaining the other day why Britain should vote to divorce itself from the European Union in this month’s referendum. As she enumerated her many grievances, I couldn’t help thinking of the scene in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” in which a bunch of disaffected Judeans sit around, complaining about the Romans. “They’ve bled us white, the bastards,” says their leader, Reg, played by John Cleese. “And what have they ever given us in return?” His colleagues mention a few things, by way of example. OK, Reg says. “But apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the freshwater system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?” Even Britain’s most enthusiastic European Union supporters would not argue that Europe has been quite that helpful, but O’Neill lives in a spot that has been a particularly enthusiastic recipient of European largesse.
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