There were at least three parties in the UK's last general election that openly criticised, up to some extent, the country's involvement in the European Union. One of them got almost 11 million votes. I'm not saying their views on Europe got the Conservatives 306 seats, but I'm sure they helped a bit.
So what's the deal with the EU? Why so much hate? Well, to start with many people in the UK feel it is unfair that they should be dragged down by weaker economies (Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy... there's something to olive oil that just doesn't go with money, I suppose), especially in such delicate times as these. The second reason, which one hears even more often, is that belonging to the EU implies complying with certain economic regulations that come straight from Brussels, and are in most cases non-negotiable. France and Germany take these inconveniences because, in the end, Europe is their baby. But what's in it for Britain?
Economically and selfishly, nothing necessarily positive, I'm afraid (though I'm massively oversimplifying). The main reason Britain should accept being European and let go of a huge amount of well-earned pride in their policies is that you might not want Europe as an ally, but you definitely don't want it as a competitor. Being one of the leading economies of the Union will be a pain in the arse most of the time, especially when they have to babysit Mediterranean countries after a number of right-wing governments sold their souls to the Market Allmighty. The alternative, however, implies leaving the EU and facing international trade not only alone, but with a giant right by your side beating every deal you attempt. And I'm not that sure the good old Commonwealth would be of much help.
The European Union, for better or worse, exists. It is time for Britain to decide whether it wants to fully commit and join the Co-op (yes, The Wire reference). Ambiguous positions are running out of time: stay put or fight the Beast, but stop complaining. As they say.