Euroscepticism in Britain has been exacerbated by the eurozone crisis and a British exit from the European Union is now being openly discussed -- unless London's calls for reforms are taken seriously.
Britain's ambivalence to the European project can be explained by a lingering conviction that the EU remains essentially a common market to facilitate trade, says Paul Whiteley, professor of politics at Essex University.
"Britain became a member because there were economic advantages. It was very much focused on trade," he told AFP.
It is perhaps no coincidence then that British support for EU membership has dropped sharply in the last five years as the economic crisis has taken hold, Whiteley says.
A regular opinion poll that he organises found in August that 61 percent of Britons wanted to leave the EU compared to just 39 percent who wanted to stay in.