From Anatole Kaletsky in today's Times:
Voters will always distrust their government and the media will always criticise whatever it does. This scepticism is what has made Britain the world’s most enduring democracy; it is what makes individualism and eccentricity the proudest features of the British national character; it is the reason why Britain will never live comfortably in the EU and why British pedestrians will never wait for the green man before they cross a road.
We delight in eccentricity. Our National heroes are Basil Fawlty, Eddie the Eagle, Mr Bean and David Brent. Our National game is cricket. Featured on today's Today program was an item on our chances at Ping-pong in the 2012 Olympics. In the middle of winter the supporters of our northernmost football team, Newcastle United, go to matches bare-chested. Yesterday, at almost every coastal town, the local mayor took a dip in the frozen ocean. Whether it is donning paper wings and attempting to fly off the pier at Bognor Regis or dancing in a white uniform with bells on your knees while waving a handkerchief, eccentricity is de rigeur.