Bremainers Ask ….. Richard Wilson

Bremainers Ask ….. Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson was one of the founding members of Leeds for Europe in January 2017.  He is currently Chair of the group, which has grown to become one of the leading pro-EU campaign groups in the UK.  He was heavily involved in organising the Great Northern Stop Brexit March in Leeds in March 2018 and has appeared on Sky News, BBC Look North, ITV Calendar and BBC Radio Leeds.

Richard was also one of the founding members of Grassroots for Europe, a network of up to 250 pro-EU campaign groups whose purpose is to bring grassroots group leaders together to share ideas, support grassroots-led initiatives, represent the interests of local groups and generally encourage networking amongst grassroots activists.  In that role he was one of the organisers of the “Where Now For Remain?” conference held in London on 25 January 2020.  He is currently Chair of Grassroots for Europe and was also recently elected as Vice Chair of the European Movement UK.

 

Do you think the Remain movement is working as effectively as it could? What could be done to bring more cohesion and strengthen our voices even further?  

Sadly, the fact that Brexit was “done” on 31 January 2020 means that the Remain movement did not work as effectively as we needed it to. But we mustn’t beat ourselves up about this. We faced an unhappy combination of extremely hostile factors – a ruthless, unscrupulous Leave campaign, a weak, unprincipled official opposition, a rabidly Europhobic UK media and a country cracking after a decade of harsh austerity. We had to construct a new campaign from scratch and race to get it up to speed in time to halt Brexit with what was initially a 2/3 year window of opportunity. What we have build since the referendum – the largest, most passionate, pro-EU movement anywhere in Europe – is astonishing. But, of course, it was not enough to stop Brexit from happening – at least in name.

The starting point for bringing more cohesion and a stronger voice has to be agreeing a clear vision for our movement. The good news – based in particular on what we heard at the Grassroots for Europe conference in London on 25 January – is that there is a high level of consensus across our movement about what we need to do now. This includes – campaigning on the rights of EU and UK citizens, defending freedom of movement, holding the government to account for its promises and decisions on Brexit and rebuilding momentum towards a Rejoin campaign which can kick in as soon as political circumstances allow it.

Organisationally, we need the key national groupings to put past disagreements aside and come together to agree a coordinated and cooperative campaign. This does not necessarily mean a single campaign – there is value in diversity – but it does mean developing a high level of trust and friendliness between the various organisations, so that the whole becomes more than the sum of the parts.

The Great Northern Stop Brexit Conference Leeds 2018

With the benefit of hindsight, is there anything you wish the Remain campaign, or you personally, had done differently over the last 4 years?

When I first got involved in this campaign, back in January 2017, I believed that we would not succeed unless and until we managed to shift public opinion to at least a 60/40 split in favour of cancelling Brexit. Once we had got to something like that level I thought that there would be an almost tangible desire in the UK for a rethink. One way or another this would have led to either the outright cancellation of Brexit, a 2nd referendum or – at the very least – a substantial watering down of the rock hard Brexit favoured by Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

The People’s vote, however, focussed almost entirely on the mechanics of getting a 2nd referendum, without putting much apparent effort into explaining to people why Brexit was an epic mistake, founded on lies, misinformation and an abuse of our democratic system, and on making the positive case for Remaining, based on the principles of preserving and spreading peace, prosperity, freedom and democracy across the whole of our continent.

This meant that PV were always trying to push a rock uphill in parliament. With a fairly static 52-53% of the British public in favour of Remaining, there simply wasn’t enough pressure being exerted by public opinion to create the support in parliament for positive action to stop Brexit. Ultimately, the PV campaign ran out of road.

So, in answer to the question – the Remain movement should, from the very beginning, have fought a far more optimistic, clear and emotional campaign to give the British public powerful reasons for wanting to stay in the EU and to counter the nasty, negative and deceitful campaign being run by the Brexiters.

How do we re-energise campaigners who have switched off now that Brexit has happened?

I was involved in organising the Grassroots for Europe “Where Now For Remain?” conference in London precisely for that purpose! Immediately after the General Election I was concerned that the momentum of our movement could start to dissipate and that groups might – unnecessarily in my view – start to question the ongoing relevance of their campaigns.

I was inspired by the overwhelming response to the conference (we sold all 450 tickets weeks in advance and had a lengthy waiting list) and felt massively reassured that campaigners remain committed to the long struggle ahead of us.

I think campaigners are now looking for unity from the movement and a clear sense of direction. Grassroots for Europe are aiming to act as an “honest broker” in bringing as many parts of the movement together as possible to work for our common goals. We don’t believe in monolithic structures, but we do believe in co-operation and some level of co-ordination.

In the short-term, we can maintain energy levels by going for some quick wins i.e. campaigns where we can align ourselves with the bulk of public opinion and thereby force the UK government to change course. Initially, I would suggest that campaigns on freedom of movement, the rights of EU citizens in the UK, the rights of UK citizens in the EU and the defence of EU standards on animal welfare, the environment, consumer protection and workers’ rights offer opportunities to us.

At the social level, initiatives such as Euro cafes are a great way to keep activists energised, without it seeming like too much hard work!

Richard with Lord Heseltine

Despite a powerful pro-EU grassroots movement, we were let down by parliament agreeing to a GE. What lessons have we learned on improving lobbying and influencing politicians in the future?

In spite of my criticisms of the People’s Vote campaign, this was one area where they probably did a reasonably good job in very difficult circumstances.

My understanding is that in late 2019 we came exceptionally close to succeeding in getting a People’s Vote agreed in principle by parliament, and that would have been an amazing result.

To be fair to PV, they were having to work with a Labour Party leadership which was ambivalent at best on the question of Brexit and with Conservative MP’s who repeatedly failed to step up in the numbers required when they were needed.

Perceptions of party-political bias within the leaderships of the national organisations were probably the biggest self-inflicted impediment to greater success in building a united and effective anti-Brexit coalition in parliament. So, next time round we need to ensure that the national campaign organisations are scrupulously balanced in their political stance and even-handed in their public and private dealings with politicians. It is not reasonable to exclude party-political politicians from the national campaigns, but they must be seen to put the interests of the pro-European cause above their own parties’ priorities.

How can the Remain movement mitigate the damage of Brexit in the ongoing negotiations?

In the face of a Johnson/Cummings led government, with a stonking 80-seat parliamentary majority, are power is limited. To be brutally honest, we are going to have to accept that there will be considerable damage. Our job as campaigners will be to make sure that the blame for this damage is placed squarely where it belongs – on the Brexiters.

Richard Wilson

We need to be careful not to fall into the trap of being “miserabilists” – seizing on every single bit of bad news and trying to pin it on Brexit. If we do that, we will be accused of crying wolf and our messaging will start to become ineffective. However, there will undoubtedly be a lot of really bad things happening. We need to identify those Brexit-induced bombshells which the public really hate and make absolutely sure that everyone fully understands the cause. One example is the Brexiter who complained about having to queue at Schiphol airport recently. A small incident, but a powerful and negative foretaste of what is to come as the UK government’s tough new immigration regime comes into force.

Would the Remain movement be more effective if it pulled together or are we better forging ahead within a loosely organised structure? 

Probably both! We certainly need to pull together in the sense of agreeing common objectives and being coordinated in our campaigns. It is clearly unhelpful if groups/organisations are cutting across each other, negating each other’s messages and appearing to be chaotic and in conflict with one another. At the same time, there is great value in allowing local groups to flourish and not be stifled by top-down control – in fact, this has been the most positive aspect of the Remain campaign so far.

So, what we need is a loosely organised structure which is pulling together! My own view is that the European Movement UK, of which I am Vice Chair, can provide the solid platform for our movement. It has money, staff, an office, 126 affiliated groups, thousands of paying members, political connections and a history going back 70 years to the aftermath of the 2nd World War. I am encouraging those local groups which are not currently affiliated to do so.

At the same time, the European Movement cannot do everything. This is where the grassroots come in! We have thousands – or tens of thousands – of committed activists. Many of us are highly skilled, knowledgeable and experienced campaigners. We are willing to commit enormous amounts of time and energy to the cause. And we can do this independently, without being given orders from above. There is no reason why we should lose this wonderful capability. That’s why I Chair Grassroots for Europe, which aims to support the grassroots groups by linking them up with each other, bringing forward grassroots initiatives, sharing best practice and representing the interests of the grassroots groups and activists in the face of the big, national organisations.

Hopefully, this twin-track approach will give us the best of both worlds.

 

Many thanks to Richard for taking part. Next month we talk to Naomi Smith, CEO Best for Britain.

What Bremainers did on Brexit Day

What Bremainers did on Brexit Day

On Saturday February 01 2020 the Bremain Facebook group took a day off. We stopped all posts and comments but asked members to share pictures and stories from how they had spent by commenting on an admin post. Here’s a flavour of what some of our members got up to:

Mountain Flag

“I climbed a mountain, alone, with “You’ll never walk alone” going round and round in my head. The aim was to make myself really really tired and sleep through all of it. It worked.
It took ages to get a reasonable photo, because it was one of those self timed 10 seconds to run into position jobs. Once I did, I realised I hadn’t put my blue jumper back on, so I had to do it all over again. No easy task considering I was perched on a rocky summit with sheer drops all around.
I took my Cornish flag with me to show solidarity to my Cornish friends who were having a candlelit vigil outside Truro Cathedral.”

“I had some English friends round for dinner and, although there was no conscious agreement not to discuss ‘it’, we chatted about family, cats, holidays, house moves and all sorts of normal things until we realised it was 12.30. I forgot to take photos. I have a sore head this morning. I think it was all good. This was the menu.”

Menu
RW

“We shared a wonderful evening with a bunch of lovely like-minded people in Malaga. (Alcohol was involved!)”

“We were determined to ignore the clock, ignore the event, & have a fun, romantic evening enjoying the life we love in Spain. Mission accomplished.”

SW
SR

“I was in the land of nod when the clock struck 12 😴 Although I never made it to any of the UK marches, I did my bit on the Balcon de Europa in Nerja in support of the London march on 19 October 2019.
Always UNITED IN DIVERSITY”

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 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.