An update from the Petitions hearing at the European Parliament 24 April 2018

An update from the Petitions hearing at the European Parliament 24 April 2018

UPDATE ON VOTES FOR LIFE EU PETITION 24 APRIL 2018

Many of you recently helped support Jacqui Cotterrill & her petition. I am happy to report that Jacqui appeared before MEPs in EP yesterday & fed back this report:

“It went well, good interventions from MEPs, strong, emotional stuff, would have liked more there but as it was they used up all the speaking time. Then stronger than I expected resolution from Chair:

1. To send petitions to Brexit steering group,
2. Urgent letter to Uk Govt
3. Letter to Barnier and Presidency to get it included in Withdrawal agreement (!)
4. Personally speak to Barnier, maybe get him to PETI (not usual, doesn’t appear at committees)
5. Put oral question forward to party coordinators, which MEPs after think should get through so hopefully it will go forward to plenary.

More than I hoped for so a good day. Thanks for your support, I gave you a name check in my presentation”.

Sue’s Campaign Trip To Brussels

Sue’s Campaign Trip To Brussels

Chair of Bremain in Spain, Sue Wilson recently spent a few days in Brussels meeting MEPs, fellow Remainers and attending the Premiere of the documentary Postcards from the 48%. Here’s her story ‘ It’s Tuesday, so it must be Brussels’. 

EU Flags

On the evening of Monday 9th April, I arrived in Brussels for the start of a 3 night, action-packed visit. I was staying at the home of Laura Shields, former head of the Brussels & Europe LibDems, now Media Consultant for British in Europe. Laura had invited me to speak at the LibDem conference in 2016, & we marched together in London. Laura was on holiday, but kindly offered me her home, & the company of her adorable cat.

The main reason for my visit was to attend the first ever screening of “Postcards from the 48%” – the film looking at Brexit from the Remain perspective – an event being hosted by Catherine Bearder MEP in the European Parliament.

Whilst in Brussels, I aimed to see as many MEPs as possible, especially those on the EU Citizens Taskforce. My intention with all MEPs was to discuss citizens’ rights issues, then use that as a lead into, “the best way to secure our rights is to Stop Brexit”, so I could move on to discussing our plan A. It seemed that the MEPs had much the same idea, as it became clear very quickly that stopping Brexit was their priority too. On citizens’ rights issues, however, I’m pleased to report that they all seemed very well informed on the issues outstanding & the current state of play.

I met with 3 British MEPs, Seb Dance, Julie Ward & Jean Lambert, as well as with 2 Spanish MEPs, Beatriz Becerra & Terésa Giménez Barbat. I can honestly say that everyone was absolutely charming, very appreciative & knowledgeable about what we do, & very keen to discuss how we can work together. To see so much passion amongst politicians for the European Union is both energising & heart-warming, & it was abundantly clear that they all work extremely hard & are totally committed. If only I could say the same about some of the politicians I have come into contact with in the UK.

Teresa Gimenez Barbat Spanish MEP

The reason for the meeting with Terésa Giménez Barbat was because she has nominated Bremain in Spain for the “European Citizens Prize”. There will a lot of competition of course, as every MEP can nominate a person/group, but to be nominated alone is an honour in itself, & it came from a MEP that I did not know beforehand. I had assumed that the nomination was in relation to our citizens’ rights activities, but no, it’s due to our anti-Brexit pro-EU position & campaigning. To say I’m chuffed would be an understatement!

The screening of David Nicholas Wilkinson’s film took place in the European Parliament on the evening of Tuesday 10th April – a fitting date being the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

https://www.facebook.com/postcards48/

The event was attended by Peter French (Reuniting Britain), Jon Danzig (Reasons2Remain), Madeleina Kay (EU Supergirl), Jean Lambert (MEP), Femi (OFOC!), Debbie Williams (Brexpats-HOV), Paul Cartwright (Brex-IN), & Steve Bullock (@GuitarMoog) to name but a few.

Postcards from the 48%

Remain campaigners from groups large & small had travelled quite considerable distances to attend, many hoping to get a glimpse of themselves or their friends on screen. The movie itself was excellent, & there were some strong arguments made by Remain campaigners from all walks of life, from well-known faces like Prof. A.C. Grayling & Miriam Margolyes to marchers & campaigners right across the UK. It was a strange experience to see myself on the big screen, but I was pleased to have a couple of quotes included, & also to be spotted at a couple of important events, like the Gina Miller case at the Supreme Court.

Panel at Premiere of Postcards from the 48%

Following the screening, I had been invited by Catherine Bearder to speak & answer questions, on a panel that also included Femi & Sir Andrew Cook. We were each given 5 minutes to introduce ourselves, then questions were thrown open to the floor. Catherine went first, followed by Femi, then Andrew, with me speaking last. I had prepared notes, with the intention of speaking for 1 minute about citizens’ rights, then concentrating on our Stop Brexit campaigning, but I went off piste! Sir Andrew Cook, who had spoken very well against Brexit in the movie, started his speech by stating his Tory credentials – he was a friend of David Cameron & a big Tory donor. He then went on to say that he respected the referendum, & that we should be working to get the best deal when we leave. The audience, not to mention the panel, were stunned into silence, & I felt that I couldn’t let that go without comment. I apologised for going off script, & suggested that anyone who wanted to know what I had planned to say asked me afterwards in the pub. Instead I made it very clear that we do not respect the referendum result, we will never accept Brexit & that this is far from over. As you can imagine, that went down rather well, & Madeleina Kay tweeted about it immediately:

The evening ended with us all being invited to supper by Catherine Bearder in a local Irish pub, which seemed very appropriate bearing in mind the anniversary.

Day Two

The next day, apart from my scheduled MEP appointments, was full of surprises. It was Guy Verhofstadt’s 65th birthday, & Madeleina Kay had arranged to meet Guy’s Media Head to deliver presents & a card signed by 1200 people. Madeleina invited me along & we met 3 members of Guy’s team, expecting only to hand over our gifts. As we approached Guy’s office, the famous Union Jack fridge came up in conversation. I commented that getting a photo with the fridge would be almost as good as a photo with the man himself, & the response was that I should tell Guy that. At this point, Madeleina & I were starting to think we might actually get to hand over our presents in person, which is exactly what happened. We even got to sing Happy Birthday to him, & he seemed genuinely pleased with all the gifts & the sentiment – a real & unexpected treat.

I had another unexpected pleasure that evening, having been invited to dinner by Terésa Giménez Barbat, who had also invited A.C. Grayling. He was to appear as a speaker at a convention Terésa had organised the following day, & I had the pleasure of sitting next to him at dinner. The food was amazing, all five courses of it & definitely outside my price range, but the company, which included 2 Spanish journalists, was the icing on the cake. Grayling suggested that I must stay in politics once this whole Brexit nonsense is cancelled, & that there was much work to do to correct all the wrongs in British politics. I told him that, to be honest, I was more interested in future European politics than British politics, so he suggested I become an MEP! Terésa’s ears pricked up at this point, & she said I’d need to be quick as Spain had only allocated 4 extra seats from those the UK would lose due to Brexit. I told her not to bank on gaining any seats, as the UK wasn’t going anywhere!

AC Grayling and Teresa Gimenez Barbat
Sue and A C Grayling

This was only my second trip to Brussels, but I’m really starting to love the place, especially walking around the European Parliament. It’s like a village, with its own shops, cafes, even a hairdresser, but the wonderful thing for me is the feel of the place – so diverse, so European, so many different voices & accents. It feels like home.

I had an amazing trip & I’m really looking forward to building on those new relationships, & hopefully visiting again soon. I do wonder though if campaigning against Brexit really ought to be this much fun!

Sue Wilson, Chair of Bremain in Spain

Local Elections England 03 May 2018

Local Elections England 03 May 2018

Local elections will be held within England, with elections to all 32 London boroughs, 34 metropolitan boroughs, 68 district/borough councils and 17 unitary authorities. We would encourage our members to ensure that their friends and family and all EU citizens in the UK register to vote by April 17. In order to make our voices heard it is vitally important to vote in these Local Elections on 3 May 2018 and it is one way you can help in the fight to stop Brexit. Please go out and vote as you can make a difference

Below you can find some useful links and resources:

Electoral Commission information on the Local Elections and Mayoral Elections including how to register to vote. Click on the link below and then click on the 2 blue squares at the bottom of the page for all necessary information:

https://yourvotematters.co.uk/elections-in-may-201

If you are not sure which is the local authority you should vote in you can find out on the link below:

https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/register-to-vote/find-your-local-authority

For information on how to vote and the different ways of voting plus details of which Councils require ID click on the link below and then on one of the blue boxes at the bottom of the page, depending which is appropriate for you:

https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/how-do-i-vote

Information for students wishing to vote is shown on the link below:

https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk/can-i-vote/students

Details of which Boroughs and Councils are holding local elections can be found on the link below.  It is very important that if you live in a Borough/Council where you can vote that you do so as these Local Elections are very important in our fight to stop Brexit:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_local_elections,_2018

For information about the timetable for registering to vote and the deadlines for each way of voting etc click on the link below:

Election-timetable-LGEW-scheduled-elections

To find out where there is a good possibility of electing a pro-remain Borough/Council look at the information on the link below:

Local Council Elections 3 May 2018 Possible Anti-Brexit Control

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joint Nationality Campaign

Joint Nationality Campaign

You may already have heard of the Joint Nationality Campaign to persuade Spain to offer joint nationality to current UK residents in Spain. The campaign was launched in July 2016 by two British writers in Madrid, Giles Tremlett and William Chislett and already they have 21,000 signatures on change.org.

Bremain in Spain is pleased to be able to support this campaign as it moves into the next phase. A draft joint nationality law will be presented to the Spanish government in the coming months.

If there is no response, the campaign intends to take the issue to the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg, asking it to decide whether Spain has an enforceable obligation to offer joint nationality.

The campaign is therefore also seeking people who have applied for Spanish nationality, or obtained it recently, who would be prepared to join an eventual legal challenge (at no cost) should this become necessary. Those wishing to be kept up to date, or wanting to know more about how they might join the legal challenge can contact Giles Tremlett at jointnationality@gmail.com.

We wish Giles and William every success with the next phase of the campaign and hope that you will join us in supporting them.

Chair Sue Wilson on the Campaign Trail

Chair Sue Wilson on the Campaign Trail

Sue Wilson, Chair of Bremain in Spain spent six days campaigning to #stopbrexit. You can follow her travels below.

Day 1

On Wednesday 21st February, my action-packed week in the UK got off to a flying start in London. I had been invited to join the “Truth Bus” launch, a fantastic campaign organised by Camden for Europe. The idea behind the bus was to mimic the infamous campaign bus, so loved by the Leave campaign. Instead of the £350 million promised to the NHS, this time the number was £2000 million – the cost of a hard Brexit, according to the government’s own analysis, with the message
“Is it worth it?”

For more information, check out the campaign website:

http://www.isitworthit.org.uk

Is it worth it? Bus

The launch in Camden started with speeches from Mike Galsworthy of Scientists for Europe & Alistair Campbell, before the bus filled up with campaigners & press contacts, & headed for Whitehall. In Westminster we were joined by Channel 4, ITN & BBC TV news teams, & there was a great turnout by politicians from both Houses of Parliament.

There were eloquent interviews conducted with Chuka Umunna, Caroline Lucas, Lord Adonis, & Tom Brake, but unfortunately none of them made it onto the TV news. It seems the press were far more interested in the 15 minutes when the bus got stuck between parked cars in a very narrow side street.

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to get lots of selfies with anti-Brexit champions, but also to have time to chat to many of them too. I was particularly delighted to speak with Lord Adonis – he mentioned that he had been in the House of Lords the previous day for 9 hours attending the EU (Withdrawal) Bill debate. I asked if he would be there again on Monday, when I would be attending at the invitation of Baroness Hamwee, & he said yes – in fact, not only on Monday, but every day, every minute that the Brexit Bill is being debated. He also asked me to email him with the selfie, which I happily did. After Westminster, the bus headed off for East London, but I left it behind to join it again later in the day.

Chuka Umunna and Gina Miller
Mike Galsworthy
Sue and Tom Brake
Sue and Alistair Campbell
Chuka Umunna and Gina Miller
Sue and Lord Adonis
Group and Is it worth it? Bus
Sue and Seb Dance
Sue and Stephen Cowan

My next appointment was a lunch date with Dr. Michaela Benson, of Goldsmiths University in London. Bremain has been helping Michaela with a major research project called Brexit Brits Abroad. A number of Bremain members have been interviewed by the research team about the effects of Brexit & their concerns & anxieties. The project is likely to continue for many more months, or possibly even years, & Bremain will continue to be involved.

For more information, check out their website: https://brexitbritsabroad.com/

After lunch, I picked up the bus again in Hammersmith, where there were a number of speakers including Seb Dance, Labour MEP & Stephen Cowan, Head of Hammersmith Council, the first council in the UK to speak out against Brexit. There was also an appearance by Fake Boris, who gave a speech & sang a song.

A surprise visitor that the organisers weren’t expecting was Femi, one of the founders of OFOC (Our Future, Our Voice), a new campaign group aimed at motivating the young. Femi was obviously invited to give a speech on the spot, & I had a lovely chat with him too. As we talked about stopping Brexit, he really liked what I had to say, so we started over so that he could film our interview. It was a great pleasure to meet a young, intelligent, committed campaigner, though he did make me feel very cold as he was wearing just a T-shirt. I told him I would start a crowd-funder to buy him a coat!

Sue and Femi

Friday was a special day in the House of Commons for Brits in Europe as it was the 2nd reading of the Overseas Electors Bill. For many weeks we had been lobbying MPs asking for their support for our Votes for Life campaign. Whilst we had received many positive responses, there had also been a significant number of negative responses too. There was speculation beforehand that the Bill may run out of time as it followed an important debate about organ donation. Thankfully though, the debate went ahead, & I was privileged to be there in the public gallery of the House of Commons watching the entire debate.

There were some spirited speeches supporting Votes for Life from Tory & LibDem MPs & some surprisingly negative comments from a number of Labour MPs. The highlight for me was the speech by LibDem MP Layla Moran, who not only gave a great speech but also quoted our own Ruth Woodhouse, one of our most active lobbyists.

Just before time ran out, the vote was called, & to my surprise all the Labour MPs abstained, so the Bill was passed unanimously. Now we wait to find out when the Bill will move to the Committee Stage. There is still a long way to go, but today was a significant step in our fight to restore votes to all Brits abroad, & proved absolutely that our lobbying is having an effect & that we are making a difference. A good day for democracy & one that is being celebrated by long-time Votes for Life campaigner, 96 year old Harry Shindler – he’s already planning his victory celebration!

Votes for Life

Day 2

On Friday 23rd February, I made my second trip to London & had a meeting in the morning with Eloise Todd, the CEO of Best for Britain. We have been working very closely with this amazing group recently, as they came to Alicante earlier this month to train Bremain delegates in persuasion techniques. The joint venture proved a huge success & we discussed how we follow this up & how we can support each other in the future.

It is always a pleasure to work with Eloise & her team & to hear about their projects & plans. All under wraps at present, but watch this space! For further information, their website is:

 http://www.bestforbritain.org

Sue and Eloise Todd

Day 3

Another day, another city, this time Bristol for the bi-monthly national meeting for Britain for Europe groups. Bremain has been a proud member of Britain for Europe since 2016, & it is always a pleasure to meet up with other grass-roots groups from all over the country. We have so much to learn from each other, & being amongst so many committed campaigners is always a great boost.

The meeting was also attended by James MacCleary, Campaigns Manager for European Movement UK, proving how closely campaign groups in UK are now working together. Both groups are part of the GCG (Grass-roots Co-ordinating Group), which also includes Best for Britain & Scientists for Europe, & we learnt of the aims & strategy of the GCG over the coming months. The goal is to secure a final say referendum, with one of the options being to stay in the EU, & then having secured a vote, to campaign to ensure that we win that vote.
Forthcoming events were outlined, such as the series of rallies & marches around the country on March 24th, plans for Europe Day in May, & 2 big marches in London in June & October. We were made privy to some very exciting plans over the coming months, but these are hush-hush for now.

Britain for Europe

Day 4

On my third trip to London, my first appointment was with Peter French, who was in the process of organising the Great Northern March in Leeds, alongside Leeds for Europe. Having just heard some exciting plans for stopping Brexit in Bristol, it was great to hear that Peter had some pretty great ideas & plans too. Again, under wraps for now, but I promise you you’re going to like them!

Peter & I also talked about the subject matter of my forthcoming speech for the Leeds event. We agreed to go with a different tack & topic this time around, which really excited me, & fits in with my own personal desire to spend more time & effort on Bremain’s plan A & less time on Bremain’s plan B. I hope that many Bremainers will be able to make it to Leeds on 24th March to hear me speak.

Sue and Peter Finch

My last commitment of the day was my first visit to the House of Lords. I had been personally invited by Baroness Sally Hamwee to attend the debate on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. As I had an invite, I got a very special seat right at the front & within arms length of the Lords & Ladies. I saw many faces I recognised, including Lords Kerr, Lamont, Ashdown, Adonis, Kinnock, Newby, Cashman & Bilimoria, & Baronesses Bakewell, Benjamin, Kennedy of the Shaws, Altmann & Smith of Basildon.

The debate was the second of 10 days of the Brexit Bill in the House of Lords, & they are certainly going to have their work cut out with close to 400 amendments to cover at the committee stage. The amendments are grouped together by topic, so during my 3 & 1/2 hours in the chamber I heard debates on healthcare for Brits in the EU, the EHIC card, the Erasmus scheme & joint research projects. Apparently, after I had left, the debates went on until 1.00 a.m. the next day!

It was a great pleasure to hear a completely different tone on Brexit from the Lords than we are used to hearing from the Commons, & to hear many eloquent speakers talking about what a terrible idea Brexit really is. It was clear that there are likely to be many amendments that will be agreed by the Upper House, so the Commons will have their work cut out when the Bill returns in a few months time.

I shall be following developments closely via Parliament TV over the coming weeks, & I have an open invitation to return whenever I am next in London.

Parliament

Day 5

As easier day for me, as this time the city was my home town of Oxford. My lunch date was with Elena Remigi, the “author” of the In Limbo book, a wonderful collection of heartwarming & heartbreaking testimonials from EU citizens living in the UK.

Bremain has been helping Elena collect stories for her follow-up book In Limbo Too, this time telling the stories of British citizens in the UK. If you wish to contribute, please check-out the In Limbo Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OurBrexitTestimonies/

Elena & I will be meeting again soon in Leeds, as she also will be giving a speech at the march & rally.

Sue and Elena Remigi
In Limbo

Day 6

Having started so well, unfortunately my trip ended with a disappointment, thanks to the “Beast from the East” – a particularly nasty storm that blanketed many parts of the UK in heavy snow & fog. I was all set to meet up with the Brexit Fact Bus for its final day & to give a speech in Maidstone, but it would have been foolhardy to attempt the journey. Schools in Kent were closed & press contacts that were booked for the event were cancelling too.

So, I ended my trip staying overnight at Stansted airport, having arrived 14 hours before my early morning flight home, with every hotel within a 15 mile radius fully booked.

The things I do for Bremain!

Homeward Bound
Bremain in Spain/Best for Britain Barnstorm Alicante

Bremain in Spain/Best for Britain Barnstorm Alicante

On Feb 10th Bremain in Spain and Best for Britain held their first joint event in Elche, near Alicante. Nearly fifty Bremainers joined our Chair Sue Wilson, Best for Britain’s Kyle Taylor and members of Bremain council. We were delighted that Debbie Williams from Brexpats – Hear our Voice was able to attend. Many Bremainers were meeting for the first time, despite working together for many months.

Refreshments were served in the garden of the hotel before Sue welcomed everyone and Kyle started the workshop – How to fight Brexit – Practical Campaign Training. There were group exercises, meaningful discussion and a real sense of determination to fight to stop Brexit.

 

Following the workshop we had a question and answer session where we were able to update members that Bremain in Spain is now a registered association. Kyle also offered practical advice to those who wanted further clarity. Debbie updated everyone on the court case which has just been referred to the ECJ. Their argument is basically ‘Once an EU citizen, Always an EU citizen’ and they hope that the case will be expedited within the next two months.

Lunch was served after the workshop and many commented on how reinvigorated they felt to fight to stop Brexit. Similar style workshops will be rolled out throughout Bremain regional groups in the coming months.

Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and many commented on their renewed invigoration to fight Brexit. Debbie Williams sums up her feelings about the training session as follows: “Since the enlightening event organised by Bremain in Spain, I am now calmer and more confident in my dealings with Brexit-related discussions, I feel empowered and have actually also realised that I (along with all the other delegates, I’m sure) know far more about the politics of Brexit than most politicians. Thank you for organising the event and inviting me. Bravo! – to all concerned.”

Bremain member Alison Curtis adds: “It was truly worth the 5-hour drive each way, and we gained enormously: Good strategies, insight, motivation, ideas and above all enjoyment from being with such nice and like-minded folk. Thanks to Kyle for his experience and presentation, and the Bremain Council for the excellent organising”. Below are a selection of photos from the day.