Those who paint the UK as not being a European country tend to not understand Europe itself. The UK is part of northern Europe. It has very strong cultural and historical bonds with countries like the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, coastal Flanders and the northwestern part of Germany caused by the Anglo-Saxon and previous migrations and ongoing intense contact. Historically the Anglo-Saxons relatively recently settled in the British isles (post Roman era) but tend to be dominant culturally.
For the Dutch, Danish and others in the north, a British exit would be troubling. It would shift the weight of the EU eastward, it would tremendously strengthen Berlin, and weaken liberalism in the sense that in Germany the state is a strong and somewhat dirigist player in the economy, a tendency with which they unconsciously approach the whole of the EU. This isn’t necessarily bad but in order to be representative the EU needs to reflect the whole, including Britain.
No doubt the Dutch and Danes are like German themselves too in their way of life, but they aren’t Germans. Their orientation on the UK and US is most substantial. Culturally, Germany nowadays is a very minor player in e.g. their television or music markets. Their focus has always been more west than eastwards.
I’m grateful to Michael Heseltine for this article, it is exactly what Britain needs to hear. And Britain also needs to know it has kin on the continent that don’t want Britain to leave for the exact same reasons that many Brits want to leave. For the British leaving isn’t really an option. For the Dutch and Danes, leaving really isn’t an option.