Europe Day 9th May- Bremainers Celebrate with Memories

Europe Day 9th May- Bremainers Celebrate with Memories

Europe Day is held on 9 May every year in celebration of peace and unity in Europe. The date marks the anniversary of the historic Schuman declaration‘. At a speech in Paris in 1950, Robert Schuman, the French foreign minister, set out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe, which would make war between Europe’s nations unthinkable. Schuman’s proposal is considered to be the beginning of what is now the European Union.

Tragically, the UK was no longer a member state of the European Union for the seventieth anniversary of Schuman’s speech. This Europe Day was, therefore, all the more poignant. The loss was felt by Brits in the EU, EU citizens in the UK and Remainers everywhere. It saddens us that the freedoms we took advantage of, to live, love, work, study & retire in the EU, will be denied to future generations. A message of solidarity and friendship from the ambassadors of all the EU nations to the British people underlined how much we are losing, but also how much there still is to fight for.

On Saturday May 9 this year, inspired by Steve Bray’s #2020MarchForEU virtual March on Parliament, Bremain members celebrated Europe Day. In a break from our usual business, Facebook Group members shared their photographs & memories of the last 4 years of marching, campaigning & waving the EU flag. We marched in rain and sunshine, we held rallies, signed petitions, we wrote letters and e-mails, and we never gave up. And we forged friendships that will continue to unite us across Europe, whatever the next few years bring.

 

Please view our gallery images. Click to enlarge and simply scroll through.

“Growing blue hair and blowing a whistle!”

 

“Bremain in Spain – keeping me sane!”

“Would not have missed it for the world”

 

“As always, great to meet so many lovely kindred spirits and to feel the solidarity!”

“Some amazing memories and lovely friendships”

 

“Happy Europe Day one and all. Too many photos to choose from!”

March in Malaga – Bremain Annual Strategy Meeting & AGM

March in Malaga – Bremain Annual Strategy Meeting & AGM

On Saturday 7 March, the Bremain Council gathered together for our annual strategy meeting, to discuss every aspect of Bremain business. The most important agenda item was determining our goals, aims and strategies for our short/medium term future. We came up with a comprehensive list for the rest of 2020, and determined that with the unpredictability of Brexit, looking any further ahead at this stage would require a much more powerful crystal ball!

Other topics discussed included council roles and responsibilities, our current campaigns – #Letters2Europe and #VotesForLife, merchandising and fundraising, a membership drive, collaborations with other groups, and regional group activities.

The council also spent time revisiting our website, Facebook group, Facebook pages and Twitter account descriptions to update all relevant information in line with the new post-Brexit landscape, and to reflect our new aims and strategies.

On Sunday 8 March, the council were joined by Bremain in Spain members for our Annual General Meeting. Bremain accounts were introduced, Chair and council members were re-nominated and voted for unanimously, and the Bremain Annual Report was presented.

The Annual Report included details of membership numbers and growth, affiliations, a review of 2019 including our achievements, and our newly agreed goals, aims and strategies for 2020.

The audience took an active role in the meeting, with animated discussions and lots of questions on a variety of topics including: Votes for Life campaign suggestions, merchandising ideas, sponsorship, expanding newsletter readership and extending our reach in Spain. All attending members then joined the council for lunch in the garden, where the discussions continued in the sunshine.

Thank you to all those that attended, for your ongoing support, and for the great feedback we received following the event – you helped make it an enjoyable, interesting and successful afternoon. See you next year!

Many thanks to Jim Westlake who took all the photos. 

Votes for Life – A Bremain Campaign 2020

Votes for Life – A Bremain Campaign 2020

Campaigning to restore the lifelong right to vote for all UK citizens overseas

Prior to 1985, British citizens living overseas did not have the right to vote. The Representation of the People Act 1985 enabled overseas citizens to vote in the constituency where they had previously lived, but only for a period of five years. That was extended to twenty years in 1989 but reduced to fifteen years in 2000, a limit which still applies today.

It is estimated that around 3 million Britons, of an estimated 4.9 million living overseas, have been denied the right to vote due to the fifteen year rule. 

Many other democracies allow their overseas citizens Votes for Life, something about which Bremain in Spain members feel very strongly. Many were disenfranchised during the EU referendum vote which created a significant impact and uncertainty on their daily lives in their adopted country. Many UK citizens in Europe moved abroad for many different reasons but with the understanding that they could due to Freedom of Movement. Many UK citizens overseas still pay UK taxes, have family and/or close connections to the UK and care deeply about the UK national interest.

Political Background

The three main political parties in the UK have differing opinions on Votes for Life, with the Labour Party maintaining silence on the subject in the last three elections.

The Liberal Democrats 2019 manifesto declared that it will “Enable all UK citizens living abroad to vote for MPs in separate overseas constituencies, and to participate in UK referendums.”. 

In the 2019 General Elections, the Conservative party manifesto included the following:

“We will make it easier for British expats to vote in Parliamentary elections and get rid of the arbitrary 15-year limit on their voting rights “ (Conservative Party manifesto, ‘Get Brexit Done’, Dec 2019, p.48).

It was also included in the 2010, 2015 and 2017 manifestos and to date, this has not been delivered.

 

Campaign

We have prepared a template letter for you to write or email your MP. Please remember to include your full name and current address, as well as quoting the postcode for your last address in the UK – this will verify your eligibility to communicate with your MP as a constituent. There are also downloadable memes which you can tweet or share on social media. Please ‘Like’ our Campaign Facebook Page to keep up with the latest news.

We’re thrilled that Harry Shindler MBE and the following organisations have given their backing to our Votes for Life Campaign 2020:

Harry Shindler
Grassroots for Europe
european movement
Best for Britain
BHOV
In Limbo
RIFT
Voices for Europe
New Europeans

98 year old Harry Shindler MBE, has been campaigning for the restoration of voting rights for over 20 years . Following his recent trip to London and his discussions in Westminster, he told our Chair, Sue Wilson that he was informed by politicians, “Harry – you will get your vote”. Harry went on to say, “I am confident that we will secure the vote, but we must never let up! We must keep up the fight until everything is safe. Voting rights are an integral part of our democracy. I fully support Bremain in Spain in their endeavours”.

Richard Wilson, Chair of Grassroots for Europe, said, “An important task for the grassroots movement, over the coming months, will be to hold the government to their promises. Those promises include a commitment to restore voting rights to the disenfranchised Brits in the EU. We therefore fully support Bremain in Spain’s Votes for Life campaign”.

Hugo Mann, CEO of European Movement UK, said “Boris Johnson has proven time and time again that he cannot be trusted to protect the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU. It’s vital that we do everything that we can to ensure that, as the people most affected by Brexit, their voices are heard”.

Naomi Smith, CEO Best for Britain, said “Around 3.6 million EU citizens have made their lives in the UK and more than a million British people have chosen to live in Europe. We say give all British citizens and EU citizens resident in the UK an equal say in elections that affect their lives.”

Debbie Williams – Founder – Brexpats-Hear Our Voice 

“All British citizens who move abroad should remain part of the democratic process in the United Kingdom. We have already seen the fall out when they have not been allowed a say in a political process that directly affects their lives. We at BHOV support this excellent campaign.” 

Elena Remigi – Founder – In Limbo

“In Limbo wholeheartedly supports this campaign for the right of UK citizens to carry on voting regardless of how many years they have lived overseas. Living abroad does not mean one loses interest for one’s own country, especially when certain decisions have a direct impact on one’s future, such as the decision to leave the EU.”

Leigh Chandler – Campaign Spokesman – Remain in France Together (RIFT)

“Many hundreds if not thousands of UK citizens living in France have already lost, or will lose, their right to vote in the UK once they have lived overseas for 15 years. RIFT has always championed the right to vote for life, regardless of where you now call home. We wholeheartedly support Bremain in its Votes for Life campaign to address the right to vote for all.”

Emmy van Deurzen Founder of Voices for Europe “

Voices for Europe are delighted to endorse this campaign for votes for life for Brits who live abroad. 

It is now vital for all mobile Brits, as it is for mobile EU citizens, to have a say on their future.”

Roger Casale, CEO New Europeans

“It is good news that the Government has promised to extend voting rights to Britons abroad, even though we deplore the introduction of stricter immigration rules and fewer rights for EU citizens already in the UK. This campaign is needed in order to make sure it delivers on that promise.” 

The New European have recently just written a comprehensive story about the loss of voting rights amongst Britons living overseas which you can read here. In most European counties, British citizens can no longer vote in either general or local elections. However, thanks to a bilateral agreement between Spain and the UK, we can still participate in local elections in Spain.

Campaign Tool Kit

 

MEMES – Memes for you to download and share across social media. 

TEMPLATE LETTER for you to write or email your MP.

You can view the template letter as a PDF HERE or by selecting the image right.

To download a Word document which you can tailor to your own requirements, select the following LINK HERE

Please remember to include your full name and current address, as well as quoting the postcode for your last address in the UK, so your MP can verify your eligibility to communicate with them.

A simple way to email your MP is through Write to Them – Making it easy to write to the politicians who represent you – even if you don’t know who they are. You can find the website HERE – https://www.writetothem.com/

SOCIAL MEDIA
Please ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ the Votes for Life Facebook page HERE – @votesforlife2020
You can also use the hashtag #votesforlife on Twitter

Here’s a copy of the recent letter from Boris Johnson to Harry Shindler. We understand completely everyone’s cynicism regarding the government keeping manifesto promises. It’s up to all of us to make sure that after 20 years of campaigning, Harry Shindler gets to vote once more in his lifetime. Harry will be 100 next year!

Johnson Shindler letter

Update 16 March 2020

Bremain in Spain recently raised the issue of Votes for Life with the British Embassy in Madrid, & have received this response:

“The UK government intends to scrap the rule that prevents British citizens who have lived abroad for more than 15 years from participating in UK parliamentary elections. They recognise that many British citizens retain deep ties to the UK and they are therefore committed to implementing votes for life before the next scheduled general election in 2024. An announcement on the government’s plans will be made in due course”.

We appreciate that under the current circumstances, that other important priorities are the focus, but be assured that we will continue to raise this issue at every suitable opportunity to ensure the government keeps its manifesto promises.

 

Battling Brexit in Barcelona!

Battling Brexit in Barcelona!

On Thursday 3 October, I took the train up to Barcelona to take part in two events organised by Mamen Candela and Amy Holden of Europeans for Catalonia. The first event was an hour-long radio interview, alongside Debbie Williams, Chair of Brexpats-Hear our Voice. We discussed all things Brexit-related, especially in regard to our rights, and our campaigns. You can listen to the radio show, by tuning in here.

Cooltura FM radio station

The second event was a sell-out meeting of European citizens, mostly British and Spanish, at the Princess Hotel. Besides Debbie and me, there were two other speakers – Hedwig Hegtermans of the 3Million campaign group, representing European citizens in the UK, and Elena Remigi, founder of the In Limbo Project. As well as many members of Bremain in Spain, we were also delighted to have EU Supergirl, Madeleina Kay, in our audience. The presentations were well received, and a lively debate followed, with many questions from the audience. Once the event was over, we all retired to the bar to continue the discussions and to put the Brexit world to rights!

My fellow presenters had this to say, following the event:

Debbie Williams: “This really was a showcase event, promoting European collaboration and demonstrating that the spirit of the European Union is alive and well. Thanks to my friends and fellow campaigners Elena, Sue and Hedwig, the “girly swots”, for their outstanding commitment and knowledge”.

Hedwig Hegtermans: “I felt the evening covered many of the different facets Brexit put us in. The audience was wonderful, very engaged and asking important questions. It was a pleasure to be part of it”.

Elena Remigi: “The event proved how cooperation and solidarity always bear good fruit and how we can achieve greater things if we work together. I was touched by the response to the testimonies and how the audience engaged, asking what they could do. This is the sign of how these stories moved consciences”.

Audience at BCN

A special thanks, from us all, to the organisers, for giving us the opportunity to spread the word that our rights matter, and that there is everything to play for. As Mamen said afterwards, “This event has raised awareness about the extremely difficult situation faced by EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU. The speakers showed the human impact of Brexit, highlighted the importance of healing the divisions, and encouraged the audience to take action to stop Brexit and protect our rights”.

Mamen also kindly shared with us this comment from a British friend, who attended the event: “Frankly, I had not given much thought to the impact of Brexit on EU citizens in the UK before, but obviously they suffer great uncertainty now. I am rather embarrassed to be British now. I will write to my MP and MEP this weekend”.

Thank you again to everyone involved – the organisers, the speakers, and the audience. We’re all in this together, and we can all contribute, so get writing, get lobbying and get involved! We may not all be in Catalonia, but we are all Europeans, and long may it stay that way!

You can read more about Europeans in Catalonia here.

Sue Wilson, Chair of Bremain in Spain

Sue EIC
Bremainers at BCN
Manchester ‘Defend Our Democracy’ Rally Sunday Sept 29 2019

Manchester ‘Defend Our Democracy’ Rally Sunday Sept 29 2019

Sunday September 29 sees the ‘Defend our Democracy’ rally take place in Manchester and our Chair Sue Wilson has been invited to speak. 

About the event:

The ‘Defend our Democracy’ demonstration is grassroots led, born out of the March for Change on 20 July and the 36 demonstrations across the country that took place on 7 September. The event, in partnership with Manchester for Europe, calls for Britain to Reject Brexit and to respect the rule of law and our democracy. It is led by a coalition of eight pro-European organisations coming together at a time of national crisis, four of which were founding members of the People’s Vote campaign. This timely event will take place outside the Conservative Party conference.There will be speakers and activists from across the political spectrum; this is an issue that brings together people of all views and backgrounds.

It is bigger than party politics and strikes to the heart of our shared values and democratic culture. We are keen to unite rather than divide so we encourage speakers to use inclusive language that takes into account our broad church and the strength and breadth of support at the heart of our movement. The speakers will be a mix of politicians, activists and ordinary people who care deeply about the future of our country and believe staying in the EU is best for Britain. Some kept campaigning against Brexit when most members of the political elite had given up hope; others, including some who voted for Brexit in 2016, are newer recruits to our cause.

The key messages for the demo are as follows:

● This is a time of national emergency: Boris Johnson’s move to suspend Parliament
is a sign of desperation, not strength. The Supreme Court has ruled that it was unlawful,
showing just how low he is willing to go to pursue to push his Brexit through without a
mandate or due scrutiny. We are mobilising urgently on all fronts to defend our
democracy and institutions. This is no longer just about stopping a no-deal Brexit. The
UK is the home of parliamentary democracy. It’s our job to keep it that way.

● We are a Remain Country . Brexit is not the will of the people. Every poll this year has
shown a clear and growing majority for our EU membership.

● We can’t fix Britain if we fixate on Brexit. Politicians have wasted three years
arguing about Europe. During this time, the crisis in housing, schools’ funding and the
NHS have worsened. We can do better than this.

We will not just be saying “no” to Boris and “no” to Brexit. We will be saying “yes” to Europe. People will speak with passion about how we can fix the country’s real problems if we stop fixating about Brexit. The list of problems is endless – the NHS, the climate crisis, knife crime, child poverty, opportunities for young people, care of the elderly, social mobility, lack of investment in large swathes of our country for decades and so forth. We will have the money, time and power to fix these problems if we stay in the EU.

Timings:

1400h: Crowds assemble in Whitworth Park, Manchester M14 4PQ
1445h: March begins
1530h: Arrive at Castlefield Bowl, Manchester M3 4JR
1600h: Rally begins
1730h: Rally ends
1745h: Crowds disperse

Speakers:

Peter Tatchell , human rights campaigner, Gina Dowding , Green Party MEP, Julie Ward , Labour Party MEP, Mohammed Amin , Chair of the Islam and Liberty Network & former Chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum, Helen Atkinson , Manchester for Europe, James Mellor , Remainer Now, Louise Houghton , South Yorkshire for Europe, Mandu Reid , leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Mike Galsworthy , NHS Against Brexit, Jessica Moll , Scientists for EU, Jordan Byrne , Young Conservatives for a People’s Vote, Sarah Judge , Manchester City councillor, Dan Price , Warrington councillor, Sue Wilson , Bremain in Spain,Daniel Paterson, Best for Britain.

You can find more information about the event here.

SB DOD