This is a careful examination of the historical formation of Britain and of key moments in its relations with the European powers. The author looks at the governing discourses of politicians, the mass media, and the British people. The rhetoric of sovereignty among political elites and the population at large is found to conceive of Britain’s engagement with Europe as a zero-sum game. A second theme is the power of geographical images – island Britain – in feeding the idea of the British nation as by nature separate and autonomous. It follows that the EU is seen as ‘other’ and involvement in European decision-making tends to be viewed in terms of threat. This is naive, as nation- states are not autonomous, economically, militarily or politically. Only pooling sovereignty can maximize their national interests. Atsuko Ichijo is Senior Researcher in European Studies at Kingston University.