Bremain BrexElection Briefing 4

Bremain BrexElection Briefing 4

Nicola Sturgeon: I have a ‘girl job’ – it’s called running the country Nicola Sturgeon has hit out at Theresa May for gender stereotyping after the Prime Minister suggested there were “boy jobs and girl jobs” around the house. The Scottish First Minister said that in her house, her husband did the cooking and cleaning while she did the “girl job of running the country”.  When she appeared on the BBC’s The One Show last week alongside her husband Philip, Mrs May caused controversy by suggesting there were “boy jobs and girl jobs” in their household.

(Chris Green i News 14 May)

If you’re under 18, Theresa May doesn’t want you to be allowed a vote. Theresa May has resisted calls to lower the voting age to 16, insisting young people could get involved in politics without casting a ballot.  If you are 16 or 17 you can get married, join the armed forces and if you are working you will have to pay tax. And yet you have no say when it comes to picking the next Government. And the Prime Minister thinks this is fair. (Daisy McCorgray New European 15 May)

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  Labour candidate Rupa Huq: We don’t want a load of Theresa May clones in Parliament “Brex-terminate, Brex-terminate,” mocks Rupa Huq in a robotic voice. It’s also an imitation of what Parliament could sound like, in her view, if too many MPs in favour of a hard Brexit are elected on 8 June. “We don’t want a load of Theresa May clones,” says the pro-EU Labour politician, who is fighting for re-selection in Ealing Central and Acton. ( Serina Sandhu i News 16 May)

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Liberal Democrats offer fresh Brexit vote at the heart of manifesto pledges The Liberal Democrats put a pledge to offer the British people a second referendum on Brexit at the heart of their manifesto. The party says they would offer a fresh vote – including the option to reject Brexit – after the terms of the deal are made clear  .It has also laid out plans for major boosts to NHS and schools funding and said they would work to build 300,000 new homes a year.  (ITV Report, 17 May)

Not Maggie May, but muddled May The new manifesto reveals a lack of coherent philosophy from Theresa May, and no clear plan for Brexit The Conservative election campaign so far has been duller than an afternoon looking at Jeremy Corbyn’s collection of pictures of manhole covers.  Blessed by an extremist opposition and a big opinion poll lead, the government is coasting, muttering platitudes like “strong and stable” and emphasising its newish prime minister, Theresa May, rather than its party name. (by Buttonwood The Economist 18 May)

Theresa May says the Conservatives stand for gender equality. Tell that to the Tory councillor who says pregnant women shouldn’t become MPs.  I wonder if anyone asked David Cameron, Matthew Hancock or Jeremy Hunt if they would be too busy changing nappies to undertake their dual roles as MPs and cabinet ministers when their babies were born? “How can a woman who is just about to give birth take on a role as MP?” This is the question a Tory councillor asked of Catherine Atkinson, the Labour candidate for Erewash. Not fifty years ago. This happened last week. (Jo Swinson Voices The Independent 19 May)

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Brexit takes centre stage in TV debate as Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn absent UKIP’s leader Paul Nuttall found himself outnumbered by 4-1 on Brexit and other issues in a party leaders’ TV debate that was snubbed by Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn.  Mr Nuttall was also isolated on immigration and grammar schools as he battled against the Lib Dems’ Tim Farron, Caroline Lucas of the Greens, the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon and Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru. (Jon Craig, Sky News, 19 May)

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Comedian Eddie Izzard hoping to become Labour politician The 55-year-old comedian revealed his ambition to enter the political arena in an interview with The Times Magazine. He outlined a vision of “the whole world of seven billion people all having a fair chance”.  And Izzard issued his support for Labour leader Mr Corbyn, saying he “believes in what he [Corbyn] says”. (ITV News 20 May)

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Thanks for reading. See you for the next bremain briefing next week!

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Eligible voters urged to register despite ‘votes for life’ setback

Eligible voters urged to register despite ‘votes for life’ setback

Britons living abroad and Europeans living in the UK are suffering prolonged uncertainty while the snap election focuses on negotiations.

With just a month to go before the UK’s snap election on 8 June, Britons on the Costa del Sol who are still eligible to vote are being reminded to register to do so before 22 May.

The organisation Bremain in Spain has put together a fact sheet with links on its website (www.bremaininspain.com).

The group is one of many representing Britons living in EU countries that have complained at the current Conservative government’s failure to bring in the ‘votes for life’ bill, which previous prime minister, David Cameron, made as an election promise in 2015.

 Under current UK law, any Briton who has lived outside of the country for over 15 years is unable to vote in general elections or a referendum, an issue which led to thousands of disaffected Britons not being able to vote in last June’s in-out ballot.

No time for votes for life

Bremain in Spain said this week, “The prime minister has called a general election on a date that disables people who have lived overseas for over 15 years from voting, despite the Tories’ 2015 manifesto promises to provide ‘votes for life’ in subsequent elections.” The organisation added that June 8 “does not allow enough time to enable votes for life through an Act of Parliament”.

In the Queen’s speech to Parliament on 27 May 2015, reference was made to the Votes for Life Bill, in which the Queen said the bill would “scrap the current 15-year time limit on the voting rights of British citizens living overseas for UK parliamentary and European parliamentary elections, including provisions relating to the registration of overseas electors”.

However, with a change of prime minister and Brexit top of the agenda since this manifesto, the bill has not been passed, once again leaving thousands without a voice in what some say is the most important general election for Britons living abroad in many years.

Bremain in Spain member Margaret King told the group, “All British citizens, including those who live outside the UK, were promised votes for life before the next general election. We now have a general election looming and still no votes for us. This election will culminate in the decision to leave the EU, or not, and will affect those of us living in the EU as much as anybody living in the UK. I want my vote that was promised.”

Brexit theme

Brexit remains at the core of June’s general election, with politicians from all parties using it in their campaigns. In a speech given outside 10 Downing Street on Wednesday, prime minister Theresa May accused European officials of “hardening” their stance on a Brexit deal and spoke of “threats” by European politicians, which she believes have been timed to “influence the polls.”

Using words which chimed with those used by David Cameron before the 2016 referendum, she addressed voters saying, “The choice you now face is all about the future,” referring to the winning party’s responsibility to get the best deal out of Brexit for “this United Kingdom”.

May also claimed in her speech, “Britain’s negotiating position in Europe has been misrepresented in the continental press.”

Opposition leaders immediately hit back, with Nicola Sturgeon of the Scottish National Party saying, “She is, it appears, almost wilfully sabotaging the prospects of getting the best possible deal.”

Groups representing EU nationals living in the UK and Britons living in other European countries have shown their concerns after Wednesday’s speech, suggesting that this stance could potentially lead to more difficult negotiations over guaranteeing rights of EU citizens post Brexit.

See original article from Sur in English

Expats like me living in the EU are being denied the right to vote in the general election

Expats like me living in the EU are being denied the right to vote in the general election

On 23 June last year, three million British citizens across Europe could not vote in the EU referendum because of a ban on voting for Brits who have lived overseas for more than 15 years. They were denied the opportunity to vote on their own futures, when they are amongst the most likely to be badly affected by the outcome. To say that many people were upset and angry is a gross understatement. I was disenchanted with the failings of this supposed “democratic exercise” and as a result became the Chair of Bremain in Spain, to campaign for our rights as British citizens in the EU.

Little did I know almost one year on we would be in the same position. We were relieved last October when the Government said it would keep its pledge to allow ‘Votes for Life’ in time for the next election. We were not prepared to take this ‘promise’ at face value and continued to lobby on the subject, including communicating directly with Chris Skidmore, MP. We said that, even if our voting rights were fully restored in time for the next election in 2020, what would happen if a second referendum occurred on any Brexit deal in the meantime, or heaven forbid there was a snap election? The only answer we received was that we would have the vote before the 2020 election. You can imagine our shock when Theresa May announced the early election.

If Britons living in the EU were angry about not voting in the referendum last year, can you imagine how they feel about being denied their democratic right once again? Some see it as a deliberate ploy by the Government to ensure that we cannot vote, in case we act against its own vested interests. Although this idea is a little misguided since many Brits living overseas did vote to leave. (Turkeys voting for Christmas springs to mind). In any case, that still leaves us disenfranchised yet again, at a time when more people are more politically aware and involved than ever before and absolutely want to have their say.

What is particularly galling is the urgency of this election. With more time in hand, we could have pushed for a short bill to resolve the ‘Votes for Life’ matter but I fear it’s impossible now.

With the election just six weeks away, also concerned about the short amount of time available to vote from overseas for those still able to. Voting from outside the UK involves a lead time: obtaining voting papers alone can take weeks. I strongly urge Britons based overseas to vote by proxy rather than by post.

Whatever happens on 8 June, we will fight to protect the rights and freedoms we enjoy as EU citizens – not some rights and freedoms, all of them. It seems that the EU agrees that we should keep all our existing rights and freedoms for life. I am waiting for the day when we hear the same reassurances from the UK government. I am not holding my breath.

 Sue Wilson is Chair of Bremain in Spain

See Yahoo Article

EU and British citizens’ rights must be ringfenced from Brexit no-deal, say campaigners

EU and British citizens’ rights must be ringfenced from Brexit no-deal, say campaigners

Five million EU and British citizens should have their rights ring fenced in the event of a Brexit ‘no-deal’, say campaigners.

Bremain in Spain chair Sue Wilson called for ‘assurances’ that current rights would be maintained even if Britain fails to strike an overall deal with the EU.

It comes after the EU published its Brexit negotiating guidelines, which stated the rights of more than one million-EU based Brits and three million UK-based EU citizens should be protected.

But a Bremain in Spain spokesperson said people are ‘living in limbo…and being used as bargaining chips’ as there is no agreement to ‘ring fence’ citizens’ rights in the event of no final deal.

Wilson said: “We are greatly encouraged by the EU’s commitment to protect our rights for life.

“It seems clear that this is a red line for the EU and will provide much needed reassurance to millions of people who are worried about their futures.

“What would reassure us even more would be a similar commitment from the UK government.”

She added: “Furthermore, we need assurances that any deal agreed relating to citizens’ rights is guaranteed, regardless of other negotiations, and especially in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario.”

Bremain in Spain is part of a coalition of expat groups called British in Europe.

Campaigners also called on UK political parties to include a pledge to maintain all rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK in their election manifestos.

Jeremy Morgan QC, a member of British in Europe, added: “We need all sides to agree to ring-fence that deal so that it will continue to stand even if there is no wider agreement covering all other matters, or if this is delayed.”

See article on Expatica

Our Pain in Spain

Our Pain in Spain

Sue Wilson - Chair

We had a simple dream for our retirement – a home by the sea, plenty of sunshine, a relaxed, healthy lifestyle and a Mediterranean diet, writes our Guest Writer for Today, Sue Wilson.

Ten years ago, we took the plunge and moved to Spain. We have never looked back.. until 24 June, 2016.

On that fateful day, our whole lives were turned upside down – our futures threatened. Would we be able to remain in Spain, receive healthcare, survive on a reduced income? Brexit could change everything.

To say that the referendum result was a shock would be an understatement. It was like a death in the family.

It was a full three weeks before I could make any sense of anything. Disbelief turned to sadness, sorrow turned to anger. I’m still angry. I will stay angry until Brexit is cancelled.

I had never been particularly interested in current affairs or politics. The referendum changed all that. My husband would ask me if I’d seen such and such a story in the newspapers – my answer was always “no”.

By July 2016, my answer had changed to “yes, I’ve read it, and I’ve already shared it on Facebook”. A casual interest in monitoring the news had become something of an obsession.

I’ve gained more new skills and gained more knowledge in the last 10 months, than in the previous 10 years. I now know more about trade deals than Liam Fox or Boris Johnson (but admittedly, that’s a low bar).

Fortunately, I was able to vote in the referendum. Many Brits abroad were not so lucky due to a rule preventing them from voting if they had lived abroad for more than 15 years.

In the Conservatives 2015 manifesto, David Cameron promised to scrap that rule.

But the government then announced that it couldn’t implement the new voting arrangements in time for the referendum. Instead, it promised that all Britons abroad would have ‘Votes for Life’ by the time of the next General Election.

That’s also turned out to be another broken promise. The 15-year rule won’t be scrapped in time for Mrs May’s ‘snap’ General Election on 8 June.

To be denied a vote that could directly affect your life so dramatically – not once, but twice – is cruel and underhand.

In next month’s General Election, I will be making my vote count, and switching my allegiance to a pro-EU party that believes Brexit is a national crisis.

I will be encouraging everyone I know to vote tactically and to prevent the Tory government continuing unopposed with their reckless Brexit. We don’t all have a vote but we all have a voice. I intend to do a lot of shouting!

We’ve worked hard for our life in Spain, and we aim to keep it. You’ll not find us in a bar festooned with Union Jacks, or at the bowls club. We do not spend our time on the beach or drinking G & Ts.

We are not tourists – this is our life. We work, shop, do laundry. Our Spanish isn’t fluent yet but we make an effort to integrate and our Spanish friends are like family.

Our EU citizenship is a treasured possession to be protected. The rights and freedoms we currently enjoy are too important and too valuable to lose.

We are not bargaining chips or negotiating collateral. We are not traitors or any less British because we chose to live in a different location. We are proud Europeans and we fully intend to stay that way.

• Sue Wilson lives in Spain with her husband, Steve, as part of the Valencian Community in Alcossebre. She works part-time as a project manager, and is currently renovating a villa. In the UK, she was a Sales Manager & Management Trainer. Sue is Chair of ‘Bremain in Spain’:

Article written for Reasons2Remain Group

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Brits beyond Brexit

Brits beyond Brexit

Brits beyond Brexit – what now for Brits in France and Spain?

Very many British citizens who live and work in other European Union countries feel like the forgotten victims of Brexit: Greatly affected by the prospective withdrawal of the UK from the EU yet often disenfranchised and rarely considered with sympathy by the folks back home. Frequently frustrated by what are at best feelings of apathy towards our plight, it makes for a pleasant change when the unique set of problems facing us are highlighted, and so we were particularly delighted to be invited to participate in Brits beyond Brexit on April 26.

This event, which took place at the University of Miguel Hernández, Elche, was a joint venture by Jeremy MacClancy, professor of anthropology at Oxford Brookes University, and Fiona Ferbrache, lecturer in geography at Keble College, Oxford. Following research primarily concerning British residents who had taken on the role of town councillor in their municipalities here in Spain and over the border in France, MacClancy and Ferbrache switched focus to the consequences of Brexit following the referendum last June.

Specifically, they’re interested in collating and analysing the concerns of the two British communities in the light of the UK’s planned exit from the EU. The event at Elche was associated with a government initiative to make research more socially responsible, and MacClancy and Ferbrache expressed a wish to find out participants’ opinions about the future direction of their academic work.

Bremain in Spain was represented at the event by Zoe Adams Green, who was joined by delegates from two other pro-European campaign groups: Margaret Hale MBE, speaking on behalf of the pan-European organisation ECREU, and Jim Simpson, who attended in his capacity as a founding member of EUROPATS. All three campaign groups are members of the British in Europe coalition, which campaigns for the rights of UK citizens in the other EU member states as well as supporting the rights of EU27 nationals based in the UK. Encouragingly, the event was also attended by Elizabeth Bell, British Vice-Consul in Alicante, and Consular Official Hugo Griffin. Disappointingly but unsurprisingly, the Vice-Consul was unable to provide any concrete information to allay our concerns at present, but both she and her consular official expressed a strong desire to listen to our worries and anxieties, and to provide consular support at a local level here in cases where, for example, British residents find themselves struggling with the idiosyncrasies of their town halls and other regional bodies.

The three campaign group representatives explained their shared objectives and showed a united front with regard to their common intent to fight for the rights of UK nationals in Spain and other EU countries. Each spokesperson clarified the activity of their respective organization and outlined the focus of their work. Whilst Bremain in Spain primarily concentrates on representing the concerns of our members both in Spain and on an international level, EUROPATs has a more grass roots approach to protecting Brits resident in Spain, and ECREU is active on a cross-European platform.

The presentations given by the three campaigners complemented each other well, providing an informative basis for the joint questions and debate session that followed. This included discussions about specific problems that audience members have encountered here in Spain, their personal concerns about their futures here, and musings as to how the various campaign groups can increase their reach to raise awareness about our cause even further.

As might be expected, many worries were raised and several issues will require further brainstorming and action. Discussions continued over a wonderfully Spanish lunch of tapas and a huge paella – and, of course, a few glasses of vino. The general consensus was that the event had proven extremely useful to all, providing both a forum for exchanging information and viewpoints as well as the opportunity to network and make connections that might be instrumental in the coming weeks and months.