Grassroots for Europe Conference 25 Jan 2020

Grassroots for Europe Conference 25 Jan 2020

Our chair, Sue Wilson, attended the event along with representatives of 149 other campaign groups. A sell-out audience of 500 were present to enjoy speeches and presentations by well-known activists and journalists.

The day started with a bang with an inspirational speech by journalist Will Hutton and concluded with an emotional rendition, from the entire audience, of Ode to Joy. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

The biggest cheer of the day was for Dominic Grieve, who was clearly moved by the standing ovation and applause he received, before he had even uttered a word. His speech did not disappoint!

Another favourite of the crowd was Mr. Stop Brexit himself, Steve Bray, who received a huge round of applause, and a gift from the grateful hosts. Steve pledged to be outside parliament every Wednesday – PM Q’s day – until the UK is back in the EU.

The overriding themes of the day were as follows:

The government now own Brexit and have to deliver what they promised – the impossible – they will fail
The UK has the strongest pro-EU movement in Europe, which we can build on
The UK will re-join the EU in time, and that must be the long-term goal
The government must be held to account
The UK’s electoral system needs reform, but the next election will be fought under the present, inadequate, first-past-the-post system – likely in 2024

Will Hutton
Dominic Grieve
Steve Bray

As well as presentations in the main hall, there were a number of break-out sessions on a variety of topics: Professor Grayling spoke of a “Democracy in Crisis”; Guardian Columnist, Polly Toynbee and InFacts Editor, Hugo Dixon spoke of “The Post-truth Age”.

Sue joined Elena Remigi of In Limbo Project and Professor Emmy van Deurzen of Voices for Europe to discuss EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU in a session entitled “A hostile environment”. Sue spoke of the issues we face, our invisibility, how we are stereotyped and what’s next for Bremain in Spain. Sue also spoke privately to chairs of the European Movement. Britain for Europe, Best for Britain and the hosts Grassroots for Europe, about how we change the narrative around Brits in the EU.

The final session of the day was entitled “Getting ourselves organised” and included contributions from Naomi Smith, Chair of Best for Britain, Mike Galsworthy of Scientists for Europe, and Steve Bray.

The mood of the crowd, and the contributors, although tinged with sadness, was one of hope and determination. We may be down, we may have lost, but we fought a brave fight, and we are not giving up! It is going to take time, and it is going to be a tough fight, but with the skills we have learned, the connections we have made and the strength and determination of everyone involved, we will get back where we belong – at the heart of Europe.

AC Grayling
Grassroots Conference
Sue Wilson

Below you can watch some videos from the day:

The group also have issued a Press Release which you can read HERE.

Dual Citizenship – can you be a Spanish citizen and a British one?

Dual Citizenship – can you be a Spanish citizen and a British one?

Increasing numbers of British citizens are considering applying for Spanish citizenship – thanks to Brexit. This has led to new demands for the Spanish government to reconsider its position on dual citizenship. There is no sign that the authorities have any such plans in mind, but are they really necessary?

On the British government website, it is clearly stated that, from the UK point of view, ‘you can apply for foreign citizenship and keep your British citizenship.’  Whilst you do have to sign a declaration in Spain denouncing your British citizenship, you would not be asked to hand over your British passport to the Spanish authorities.

In fact, in order to officially renounce your British citizenship, you would need to complete paperwork with the British authorities and pay for the privilege of doing so.

A British Embassy spokesperson said: “Dual citizenship (also known as dual nationality) is allowed in the UK. This means you can be a British citizen and also a citizen of other countries. You can apply for foreign citizenship and keep your British citizenship.

2 passports

However, many countries do not accept dual citizenship. Spain only recognises dual citizenship with a select number of countries who are judged to fulfil the requirement set out in the Spanish constitution of having ‘a close/special relationship with Spain’ e.g. Latin American countries that were previously under Spanish rule. It does not recognise dual citizenship with the UK.

Applying for Spanish nationality is a personal choice and not something the UK government can comment on. We do, however, urge people to consider any implications this may have for them, as they will only be considered Spanish in Spain; although they would be considered a dual national in the UK. We recommend seeking professional legal advice before making the decision.”

 

2 badges

As far as the Spanish authorities are concerned, once a Spanish citizen in Spain, you are no longer a citizen of any other country. Were you to continue using your British passport in Spain, you would seriously risk losing your newly acquired Spanish citizenship.

So, as long as you are Spanish whilst in Spain, and do not have a problem with denouncing your British citizenship to the Spanish authorities, then you need not relinquish your British passport or citizenship – at least as far as the British authorities are concerned.

For further information on the subject:

British Government website on Dual Citizenship

The Local Spain article – Do I have to give up my British Passport? 

The Local Spain article – Everything you need to know about applying for Spanish citizenship 

 

Where are we now?

Where are we now?

Where are we now?

If you are wondering what Bremain will be up to in the coming weeks and months, I wanted to give you a taster of what we’ll be fighting for and against.

Our mid to long term goals will be discussed at length at the forthcoming Bremain Council Strategy meeting at the beginning of March. However, we have already agreed on some goals, including in the short term.

Firstly, let me answer a couple of questions that have been raised on specific topics.

Will Bremain be fighting to Stop Brexit happening on 31st January?

In a word, no. Apart from our belief that this is an impossible goal that would waste time and resources, there is another important factor – the default to no Brexit would be a no deal Brexit. It would be counter-productive to prevent the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement that protects many, if not all, of our important rights.

Is Associate EU membership a possible option for retaining freedom of movement?

Sorry to say but we honestly don’t believe so, though we are closely monitoring any developments. The topic has been broached many times before with the EU27 and has proved unpopular, partly as it smacks of exceptionalism, but also because of the treatment of EU citizens in the UK, which has not encouraged EU states to look kindly on us. Why should British citizens be granted the benefits of club membership without joining the club? In addition, this idea has already been tested, and rejected, by a European court in the Netherlands. It is hard to see how any new legal attempt will stand any more chance of success unfortunately. As the EU President said just today, whilst the EU is “very open” to such ideas, the UK will have 3rd country status and any advantages for British citizens would have to be negotiated as part of a deal that encompasses the free movement of goods, capital and services.

 

Votes for Life 2020

Bremain Campaigns

Our focus will remain, as it always has, on fighting the damaging aspects of Brexit. This does not mean helping members with applications for residencia or Spanish driving licences. There are plenty of more qualified groups than ours that do this type of work already.

We may not be able to stop Brexit, but we can certainly help mitigate the damage. The main ways we can do that are by campaigning to:

  • Prevent a no-trade-deal Brexit at the end of 2020
  • Extend the transition period, ideally until the end of 2022
  • Hold the government to account and prevent further erosion of democracy and our rights
  • We still have important rights at risk thanks to Brexit, such as freedom of movement. Whilst we still retain those rights during the transition period, there is still hope of further negotiations to change our future.
  • In addition, Bremain will continue to lobby for the restoration of our democratic voting rights by reinvigorating our Votes for Life campaign.

 

Thank you for joining us on our journey, and for all your support.

Look out for details of our forthcoming Annual General Meeting in March (most likely in the Malaga region), if you would like to take part.

Be assured that Bremain are still here, still committed and motivated, and still up for a fight! We hope you are too!

Sue Wilson – Chair

Withdrawal Agreement and Bill

Withdrawal Agreement and Bill

What is the difference between the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and the Withdrawal Agreement Bill?

There is a great deal of political jargon to get your head around the difference between the two so we hope that this post will help you to get a better understanding of both. In a nutshell, the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (WA) Is the international treaty agreed between the UK and the EU. The Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) is the piece of legislation which Parliament needs to pass in order for the Withdrawal agreement to become UK law. There may be amendments to the WAB in either chamber but these are unlikely to pass due to the government majority. 

Collectives vow to keep fighting to protect citizens’ rights in Brexit deal

Collectives vow to keep fighting to protect citizens’ rights in Brexit deal

As Britons living in Spain and across the EU27, as well as EU citizens living in the UK, come to terms with the reality of Brexit following last Thursday’s election, groups representing them are beginning to plan for the future.

Far from giving up, collectives including Bremain in Spain, British in Europe and The Three Million, which represents EU citizens in the UK, issued statements to assure followers that they will be continuing to campaign on their behalves.

British in Europe and The Three Million issued a joint statement in which they stated, “We will renew our campaign for both the UK and all the EU27 to automatically guarantee our rights.”

While Sue Wilson, chair of Bremain in Spain, which is part of the British in Europe umbrella group, said, “We must now accept that the UK will start the process of leaving the EU on 31st January, unless there’s a Christmas miracle.”

A statement issued by the group went on to say, “This is not the end of the road for Bremain. The nature of our fight will change, but our goals and our ethos will not. We still believe, and always will, that the UK’s place is at the heart of the EU.”

Anne Hernández, president of Brexpats in Spain, which represents people regardless of their views on Brexit but stands to protect people’s rights, said she was personally “resigned” to Brexit but added, “With all my determination to get the best possible outcome for us as citizens in the EU.” Hernández said, “We shall be needing the support of Spain and I am doing all I can, as I have been from the very beginning since the referendum, to reciprocate their help.”

Taken from The Sur

¿Qué? podcast, S03E12: The effects of the UK general election, and Spain’s dwindling bars

This week on the final episode of our ¿Qué? podcast for the year, we talk to Britons in Spain about how their lives will be affected by the reelection of the Conservative Party at the recent polls, and discuss what Spanish villages are doing to ensure their local bar stays open

¿Qué? is a podcast that tries to explain to an English-speaking audience the curious, the under-reported and sometimes simply bizarre news stories that are often in the headlines in Spain.

Go to the podcast here