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“We have a similar dry sense of humor and sense of inferiority in sport” – Northerners feel at home in Scotland despite Brexit – Foreign Affairs –

“We have a similar dry sense of humor and sense of inferiority in sport” – Northerners feel at home in Scotland despite Brexit – Foreign Affairs –

There are about 92,000 Northerners living in Great Britain. Northerners usually integrate very easily into the British environment, but due to Brexit, many feel unwelcome in the country for the first time. In Scotland this feeling is different.

Northerners in Scotland feel welcome despite Brexit

Finn Jenny Brodie believes the feeling in Scotland is different, thanks in large part to Scots' benevolent attitude towards the EU.

– I must say that I am glad that I live in Scotland, which voted against Brexit. Especially here in Edinburgh and in Leith, where I live.

An overwhelming majority of Scots voted for the UK to remain in the European Union in a UK referendum more than three years ago. In Edinburgh, only a quarter of Scots wanted to leave the EU.

“You feel more welcome here, as many Finns I've heard from who live in other parts of the UK say they don't feel welcome anymore,” says Brodie.

According to a recently published study At the University of Helsinki, Nordic people living in Great Britain feel that Brexit has brought with it a growing sense of uncertainty and decreased trust in British society.

Jenny Brodie in Edinburgh
Jenny Brodie returned home to Turku and sold all her belongings in August 2013 when she decided they belonged in Scotland. Shortly after, she met her future husband.

Photo: Malin Lindholm

Josephine Greenland from Sweden also feels very welcome in Scotland. She recently moved to Edinburgh after completing a three-year BA in Literature in England.

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Greenland says it was the Scottish connection to the Nordic countries that attracted her here.

– There is a similar culture here as in the Nordic countries, and the school systems have many things in common.

Greenland says that in education in Scotland they try to focus a little more on equality and have the same ideas as in Scandinavian school culture.

In Scotland, as in the Nordic countries, study is also free, but only up to bachelor's level. Class differences are also not as pronounced in Scotland as elsewhere in Great Britain.

– It still exists, but it's not as pronounced here as in the rest of the UK, says Greenland.

Could an independent Scotland belong to the Nordic countries?

The Scottish National Party, the Scottish National Party, wants Scotland to hold a new independence referendum next year.

The last time Scots voted for independence in 2014, the SNP put pressure on Scotland to follow the example of the Nordic welfare model, and perhaps also become part of the Nordics if the country became independent.

Josephine Greenland thinks this would be a good idea in theory.

– It might work out because you have cultural commonalities and because you are geographically very close to the Nordic countries.

Greenland also points out that the Scottish Shetland Islands and the Orkney Islands have more in common with Norway in particular than with the rest of Great Britain. The islands belonged to Norway until 1468.

Our countries, during different decades, have had to make sure that we will not be eaten by the big neighboring countries.

Harry Nimmo, Honorary Consul of Finland to Scotland

Honorary Consul of Finland in Scotland Harry Nimmo believes that Scotland historically has a lot in common with the Nordic countries.

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But today's Scotland still has so much more in common culturally with England that integration with the Nordic countries would not make sense.

– British government, a common language, currency, and a shared history over the past 300 years contribute to Scotland's strong connection to England.

Economically, Scotland is also heavily dependent on England, says Nimmo.

But despite this, he believes there are many things Scotland can learn from the Nordic countries, for example Finland can serve as a good model in some cases because the countries have many similarities.

Finland and Scotland are two small, viable countries with a population of about 5 million people.

In addition, the two countries had to ensure that they were not gobbled up by large neighboring countries in different decades.

Interview with the Honorary Consul of Finland in Scotland, Harry Nimmo

Vuokko's clothes led Nemo into Finnish society

Nemo's relationship with Finland goes back to the 1970s, when his wife's company in Scotland imported Vuokko clothing from Finland.

– During this time we made many good Finnish acquaintances in Scotland.

This led a few years later to Nemo becoming Honorary Consul of Finland in Scotland.

Consul of Finland in Scotland Harry Nimmo
Harry Nimmo works as a fund manager in Edinburgh.

Photo: Yale/Malin Lindholm

Dry humor and feelings of inferiority in sports

Although today's Scots are culturally closer to the British, Jenny Brodie feels that the Finns and Scots also have great cultural commonalities.

-You get along well with Finn in Scotland. My husband, who is Scottish, often says that Scots and Finns have a lot in common, such as a dry sense of humor and an inferiority complex in sports when competing against a neighboring country.

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While Brexit is forcing many northerners in the UK to question where they want to live in the future and where they feel they belong, in Brodie's case this is as clear as a knife.

– Here in Scotland I belong. Having lived in France, London, Edinburgh and Turku, I was tired of moving around and it felt right to move back here.

The article was updated on 10.11.2019 with the following corrections: Jenny Brodie actually moved to Scotland permanently in 2013, not last year. Education in Scotland is free up to bachelor's level but not master's level.