How the WA affects you!

How the WA affects you!

The Withdrawal Agreement is an international agreement between the UK and the EU that sets out how the UK’s membership of the UK will end. It runs to hundreds of pages on a number of topics, but the section on citizens’ rights will likely be of most interest to our members.

British in Europe (BIE) have published a number of informative articles covering the citizens’ rights elements of the Withdrawal Agreement, and what it means for British citizens living in an EU country.

We are delighted to share them here for our members, and grateful for all BIE’s efforts to protect the rights of British citizens throughout the Brexit negotiations.

Each article is on a specific section of the Withdrawal Agreement, relating to specific rights.

Part 1: What is the Withdrawal Agreement?

In this article we take a look at what the Withdrawal Agreement is (and what it isn’t), what it does, how it’s different from the no deal legislation that your host country will have produced, and who it covers.

The Withdrawal Agreement – An Explanation

Part 2: Residence Rights and Procedures

In this article we take a look at what the Withdrawal Agreement has to say about residence rights and procedures in your host country.

WA part 2 – Residence Rights and Procedures

Part 3: Health care, Pensions and Social Security

In this article we take a look at what the Withdrawal Agreement has to say about health care, pensions and social security. You should note that the personal scope or people covered by the social security, healthcare and pensions provisions is different to that for the rest of the Withdrawal Agreement. Everyone entitled to residence rights under the WA is covered, as well as dual nationals, but the group of people covered is wider than that.

WA part 3 – Health, Pensions and Social Security

Part 4: Working Rights, Professional Qualifications and Future Family Reunification

In this article we take a look at what the Withdrawal Agreement has to say about working rights, professional qualifications and future family reunification.

WA part 4 – Working Rights, Professional Qualifications and Future Family Reunification

Part 5: What’s not covered

In this article we take a look at what is not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

WA part 5 – What’s NOT Covered

Part 6: FAQs

In this article we take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about our rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. It will be updated over the coming weeks as new questions arise.

WA part 6 – FAQs

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.

Bremainers Ask …….. Revisited!

Bremainers Ask …….. Revisited!

With the changing political landscape, Bremain invited former contributors to our Bremainers Ask feature for their thoughts on the subject. We asked them to comment on where we are now, how they see things moving forward and what we pro-Europeans should be focusing on in the future.

Here are the first responses; more to follow in next month’s newsletter. Note that these submissions were made prior to the ratification of the WA.

Hugo Dixon

Hugo Dixon – Chair/Editor-in-Chief – InFacts

We have lost the battle to stop Brexit. We mustn’t lose the war to create a good society for the 21st Century. The 2019 election will make that harder. We won’t be sitting round the top table in Europe when important decisions will be taken on the climate crisis and so forth. What’s more, Boris Johnson has such a big majority that it won’t be possible to influence him. He will be in power for four years and maybe nine. So, we have to play a long game. We must reflect deeply about what sort of society we can create in a world where temperatures are rising and power is shifting away from Europe. 

 

 

That will involve getting out of the big cities and listening. We will probably conclude we need to focus more on meaningful lives and less on materialism. Once we have articulated a new vision for a good life, we will have to persuade the voters to back it.

Julie Ward – Labour MEP

After more than three and a half years of complex negotiations and prevarication on the part of the UK parliament, with both Theresa May and Boris Johnson failing to comprehend the indivisibility of the ‘Four Freedoms’, Johnson now has a parliamentary majority to force through his version of a deal which is much worse than May’s deal on many counts. It goes without saying that the results of the December 12th General Election were devastating for all of us who espouse socially liberal values and who call ourselves European. 

Julie Ward MEP

As the Withdrawal Agreement makes its way through various stages in the Houses of Parliament safeguards and certainties are being removed, e.g. support for child refugees, participation in Erasmus+.

Whilst the European Parliament has expressed its concern about Citizens’ Rights in the WA it is nevertheless likely to be approved by the majority on January 29. (I will not be voting for it.) Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit Co-ordinator, went to London to meet with Boris Johnson to discuss the Parliament’s concerns. Frankly, he was fobbed off with vacuous promises. We all know Johnson is a serial liar. Let’s not forget that he was found guilty by the Supreme Court of lying to the Queen!

The majority of the work on the so-called ‘deal’ was completed some time ago. Johnson has mostly been tinkering around the edges, with the exception of moving the border to the middle of the Irish Sea. (Policing that is going to be interesting with the word ‘piracy’ coming to mind!) 

Many people who are fed up with Brexit dominating the domestic agenda believed in Johnson’s oven-ready ‘Get Brexit Done’ slogan. However, Brexit will not be done for a very long time as negotiations on a trade deal could take a decade, and those who wake up on February 1st expecting the UK to be out of the EU will have a shock, as we will still be subject to EU law and paying money without any representation. Meanwhile, Sajid Javid has said that the UK will not align with EU rules after the transition period, which means that the EU will not consider the UK as either an honest broker under the current government nor as a country that can receive favourable treatment. 

The governments of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales all oppose the WA and are unhappy that a gung-ho gang of public school-boys in Westminster is legislating against the best interests of their countrymen and women, not to mention limiting opportunities for the next generation. Scottish independence and a united Ireland are distinct possibilities in the not too distant future.

We need to maintain our grassroots pro-EU groups and strengthen links between UK and EU citizens via people-to-people contact, reviving town-twinning and similar civil society mechanisms. Arts and culture are a great way to bring people together and I see a huge need for more collaboration at this level. We must mark significant European anniversaries and special days and wave our EU flags even more vociferously at the Last Night of the Proms. We also need to keep an eye on the government and hold them to account, demanding greater scrutiny and transparency, writing to MPs and MEPs and to the press, reminding of the promises made by the Vote Leave campaign. 

We must be ready to stand in local and national elections and to put ourselves forwards for roles in campaigning groups. We need to push for electoral reform and deliberative democracy such as citizens assemblies. We need to get tech-savvy and help in the fight against disinformation online. Now is not the time to be bystanders. So many ordinary people were provoked into action, learnt new skills and realised they had a voice. Let’s use everything we learned and build from the grassroots up, ready to oppose the attack on our European values that is coming down the line.       

 

Madeleina Kay

Madeleina Kay – EU Supergirl

After three and a half years campaigning to avert this disaster before its occurrence, I now have grim hope for the future of the UK. The question of where British citizens (and EU citizens living in the UK) who still feel strongly in European values should take our campaign next is a troubling question: Should we begin a rejoin campaign immediately? Should we encourage pro-Europeans to evacuate the UK allowing it to languish in brain-drain?

Should we focus on calling out the lies and broken promises of the Brexiters and campaign for the closest possible alignment to the EU? And will Brexit inadvertently deliver for the campaign for proportional representation? I have no answer to those questions, all I know is that my heart still wants to fight for Europe and all the values that underpin the European project.

One of the gravest mistakes of the Remain campaign was to fight a rational battle, using reason and evidence-based facts to try and prove the opposition “wrong”. We failed to grasp that support for Brexit was founded in a sense of identity and support won through emotional arguments. Instead of attacking people who disagree with us, efforts should have been made to promote a positive message, earning support for that alternative vision. And instead of cultivating a toxic culture of infighting, we should have embraced creativity and diversity, because ‘diversity of participation’ is the key to success in any movement.

Regardless of Brexit, it is essential that we work to challenge the racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric sweeping across the UK. Reframing narratives will be essential to leading change and altering perceptions that may be founded in prejudice and ignorance. This can be achieved by giving voice to migrants and celebrating our experiences of migration to change understanding through the empathy of human-centred stories. 

We may have lost this battle, but I have met some wonderful, inspiring and passionate people on the journey, and the UK now has a strong and determined, pro-EU movement to fight for the future. A guiding star of hope will see us through the darkness. 

Elena Remigi & Debbie Williams – In Limbo Project

After the shock of the election result, we took some time to reflect on the outcome and the repercussions for all those In Limbo. The Withdrawal Agreement, when ratified, becomes an international treaty and does give small comfort to the 5 million citizens directly affected by Brexit. Not all of our rights are covered, and we have to be prepared to carry on the fight for all of our rights, in particular freedom of movement for British citizens in Europe.

In Limbo

The Settled Status application [process] needs monitoring continuously and the vulnerable groups from our communities need protecting. Many EU citizens in the UK are at risk of becoming illegal if they fail to apply or experience the ‘hostile environment’ when it comes to renting or finding a job without physical proof of EUSS. This is why it is vital that we carry on telling our stories, raising our voices, reaching out to people to raise awareness of our issues and ensure we don’t become a new Windrush or are forgotten by the public. We can’t remain silent.

There will soon be an updated version of the first book ‘In Limbo’, so bear with us – but we invite everyone to read and share both our books. We also need to make sure that what the 5 million are going through never happens again, to anyone. We will therefore carry on promoting the values of the European Union and continue to highlight how important a project it is. For peace, diversity, prosperity and inclusiveness. There is still much work to be done, so don’t give up because we aren’t!

 

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 one million Britons 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

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.”

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

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 

 

Bremainers Ask ….. Molly Scott Cato

Bremainers Ask ….. Molly Scott Cato

Molly Scott Cato is MEP for the South West of England and was previously Professor of Green Economics at Roehampton University. She speaks for the Green Party of England and Wales on finance issues. Molly also has expertise in the issues of renewable energy; trade; food and farming; and co-operatives and mutuals.

Molly grew up in Bath, which she left to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University. Following a career in publishing she took a PhD in Economics from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth focusing on employment in the South Wales Valleys. She has written several books including Green Economics (2009), Environment and Economy (2011) and The Bioregional Economy (2012) as well as numerous academic papers.

Molly has three children and lives between Brussels and Bristol. She has spent a lifetime involved with social movements and community activity including the Transition Towns and Stroud Community Agriculture in her hometown. She enjoys singing, basket-making and bodging.

Kay Adams: What abiding memories will you take away with you from Brussels?

Molly Scott Cato: It’s all about the people I’ve met. My Green colleagues are truly inspiring and I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved together. I have also had the privilege of meeting a huge range of people from indigenous Brazilian women fighting the destruction of the Amazon, to the Dalai Lama, to determined anti-Brexit campaigners and people fighting tax evasion. It worries me deeply that these personal connections will be lost when we no longer have British MEPs.

Molly Scott Cato

Sue Wilson: If you could have done anything differently over the last 4 years to fight Brexit, what would it be?

Molly Scott Cato:I am a person who relies a lot on truth and data. I think it is true that we should have used arguments about identify and emotional connection more during the referendum campaign, but I am glad that we didn’t resort to the propaganda and disinformation that won the argument for Leave.

Tracy Rolfe: If a serious campaign was launched for the UK to re-join the EU, would you aim to get involved, & what would be the likely timeframe?

Molly Scott Cato: Now that we are definitely leaving I think we need to allow the Brexit project to fail convincingly before we begin campaigning to rejoin. But that is my dream and I believe it will happen after a decade or so because young people feel themselves to be Europeans. In the mean time we need to keep close relationships through friendship groups and twinning.

Molly and Caroline Lucas MP

John Moffett: Would you consider running again in the next general election?

Molly Scott Cato: I intend to spend the next four years doing everything I can to ensure that the next election is fought on the basis of a deal that guarantees a fair voting system. My decision about whether or not to stand depends on how successful that campaign is.

Zoe Adams Green: How likely is a no trade deal at the end of 2020, in your opinion & what can we do to prevent it?

Molly Scott Cato: I think we will end up in the eyeball-to-eyeball situation again at the end of 2020. Last time Barnier blinked over the level playing-field and I think we will all pay the price for that. But once we are out the EU has greater power so I think we will get to the brink but then Johnson will blink, meaning sacrificing some rights and opportunities that are really important to our society and economy. It’s hard to define what, at present, but the farmers and fishermen I represent look pretty vulnerable.

Michael Soffe: What are your plans after you lose your MEP role at the end of January?

Molly Scott Cato: I have six months of transitional allowance and I intend to spend that time holding the government to account over its negotiations and building up close European links to replace those we are losing. After that I have no idea.

Many thanks to Molly for taking part and we wish her well as she leaves Brussels.