Focus on: Super EU Girl’s fight to stop Brexit

Focus on: Super EU Girl’s fight to stop Brexit

Madeleina Kay, also known as “Super EU Girl”, is an upcoming pro-EU activist and a member of Bremain in Spain. Madeleina made international news earlier this month after being escorted out of the Brussels press conference on the state of progress of the Brexit negotiations – despite having press accreditation. You can read more about how her fancy dress costume raised eyebrows in this Euronews article 

Prior to taking her activism to Belgium, Kay was invited to participate in the panel of Channel 4’s Brexit debate in Bath, where the audience was supposedly made up of people who voted Remain in the 2016 referendum. In this exclusive article, she shares her impressions of the evening and tells us about her current vision for the ongoing fight to stop Brexit.

“I was delighted when a Channel 4 News producer invited me to take part in the “Remainers” panel in the BrexitReality debate. The programme was filmed live in Bath (a heavily Remain voting constituency) in the evening, and as I would miss the last train home to Sheffield, I was forced to stay in Bath overnight, which I was more than happy about as they put me up in a very nice hotel. The day before the filming, I received the final panel shortlist and was slightly nervous when I discovered I was up against MPs from the Labour, LibDem, and SNP parties as well as a Conservative Party member (apparently, they contacted about 40 Tory MPs and couldn’t get a single one to participate… I wonder why?). I was the only young person on the panel; nonetheless, I felt I held my own during the debate and made some important points, although not as many as I would have liked.

Also on the panel was Hugo Dixon, one of Boris Johnson’s former school chums and a vocal Remainer. Unsurprisingly, we got on swimmingly, and voiced many of the same opinions. It was interesting to discover more about his work – attempting to make the fact-based argument to remain in the European Union. I was a bit alarmed when, in the introductions, he mentioned the “H” word, drawing parallels between Brexit and Nazis. I don’t think the majority of people who voted Leave are Neo-Nazis; I think they were lied to and influenced by the ongoing slur campaign against the European Union driven by the right-wing press. I also believe there has been a significant lack of education about the European Union in Britain, and there is a huge amount of ignorance regarding what it actually does and how it benefits the member states. I think that rather than taking a “Project Fear” approach, we need to inspire and educate people about the European Union, and I like to do that by wearing fancy dress costumes and using books and illustrations to communication my message. Having said that, I think that facts and rational argument also play a key role in reinforcing this.

The panel debate was led by Krishnan Guru-Murthy, and followed the preceding week’s “Leavers” panel, which was filmed in Wakefield, an area with a high Brexit vote. There was a high level of audience participation, and as the programme only lasted for 30 minutes, it was difficult to present a developed argument. The purpose of the debate was to show “all the shades of Remain”, and as such, many of the audience and several of the panel were actually “lapsed” Remainers who have given up the fight and accepted the “will of the people”. Unfortunately, this resulted in the majority of the debate revolving around whether we should be pursuing a second referendum on the final deal and whether that would be undemocratic, rather than other issues such as EU citizens’ rights and how we might change the conversation about the EU to promote its values and the opportunities it provides. I was especially infuriated by the number of young people in the audience who had effectively given up on Remain, including a representative from Better Brexit for Young People. I didn’t have the opportunity to point out that there is no “better” Brexit. Instead, there is either the Brexit the Tories serve up or WTO rules, depending on how the negotiations progress. I did make the point that the young 15/16/17-year-olds who were not of voting age on 23 June 2016 ought to have a say in their future when the negotiations are finally over in March 2019 (or however long it takes). I also argued that “the people”, regardless of whether they voted Leave or Remain, have a right to approve the final deal in a second referendum on the terms of exit. If the Tories deliver something totally under-par, then even the most ardent Brexiteer should have the right to reject it. After all, why would be chose to become economically, socially and culturally poorer?

I received two rounds of applause (more than anyone else!) for my contributions, as the audience was generally quite receptive to my arguments. Nonetheless, I was slightly disgruntled to discover that there appeared to be several Brexiteers planted in the audience (if the Bath Conservative Twitter feed is anything to go by), who I believe had snuck into the audience under the guise of being “lapsed” Remainers. One of them made a totally unsubstantiated and illogical argument about EU member states not following EU policy regarding refugees. He claimed to have converted to the Dark Side because the EU has failed to force member states to implement pro-refugee policy. (Many other Brexiteers argue that the EU is too controlling of member states, but it is a recurring theme that they want to have their cake and eat it.) I was a bit thrown when Krishna directed that contribution to me, asking how I would respond. After a brief hesitation, I made the point that actually, to focus on one minor issue like that is to lose sight of the bigger picture. It disregards everything that the EU has achieved in the last 44 years and it overlooks the multiple benefits of EU membership that we are set to lose as a result of Brexit. I received a second round of applause when I pointed out that the Brexit vote was a result of a lack of education and publicity about how EU funding is used.

I would have liked to have taken Steven Kinnock to task on the Labour Party’s stance on Brexit. He was typically in/out in Brexit Hokey-Cokey style with regard to the Single Market, Customs Union etc. However, there was a suspicious absence of conversation about Corbyn during the debate, and it was impossible to alter the direction of the conversation, which was being forcefully led by Krishna. Nonetheless, I was incredibly grateful to be given a voice as a young British citizen and also an unrelenting #StopBrexit campaigner. I still believe there is everything to play for, and we must continue the fight for our rights. Never give up! All the Brexiteers need is a little imagination, and they will see that remaining in the European Union is the best possible outcome for everybody.”

You can follow Madeleina on Twitter @SuperEUGirl

The Leavers debate filmed from Wakefield and the Remainers panel featuring Madeleina can be viewed from these links.

Brexit & You

Brexit & You

With Britain and the EU seemingly no closer to agreement over the shape of Brexit, the talk in the UK this week has focused on what might happen if the country crashes out of the European Union without a deal.

For some Brexiteers this is the preferred option that will deliver the immediate freedom from interfering foreign bureaucrats that they have desired for so long. For Brexiteer Chris Grayling, now transport minister, the food shortages that might result could largely be solved by British farmers growing more.

Meanwhile, demands that the British government come clean over their secret papers assessing the impact of Brexit on the British economy are getting louder. Even without official government studies, there’s concern about the impact on a whole range of sectors – with the wine industry and airlines among those voicing their worries this week (see below).

Those of us on the continental side of the channel at least don’t have to worry about incipient hunger, but people are getting anxious nonetheless about what a Brexit crash landing would mean for citizens and the economy. Below we report on why the Dutch are fretting. And in this week’s feature article, Alex Macbeth looks at how Brits in Spain are organising themselves to deal with the repercussions.

We hope you enjoy this week’s edition. Let us know what you think – email us at or find us on Twitter @thelocaleurope.

See full newsletter here…

Between a rock and a hard place: Brits in Spain and Brexit

If citizenship rights are the key issue at stake in the Brexit negotiations, then in no other country do Brits have more to lose than in Spain. But the British exit also poses challenges to a vitally important trading relationship.

At least 300,000 UK citizens officially live in Spain, although some estimates say the number is closer to one million. That’s more than a quarter, possibly as much as half or more, of all Brits living in the European Union.

Many face an uncertain future and at least two citizens’ rights groups, Bremain in Spain and Brexpats, have been lobbying and campaigning for the rights of UK citizens in Spain since the Brexit vote.

“We have nearly 5,000 members from all areas of Spain but we are represented in Alicante, Valencia, Malaga, Cadiz, Almeria, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Mallorca and Granada,” Anne Hernandez, founder of Brexpats, who has lived in Spain for more than 30 years, told The Local.

Brexpats acts as a lobby group for the rights of UK citizens and “is in close regular contact with the Consuls,” says Hernandez.

Bremain in Spain is another initiative by Brits in Spain. The lobby’s Facebook group has nearly 5,000 members. Sue Wilson, the founder, says she spends 50-70 hours a week running the initiative, which is self funded by members.

See full newsletter in The Local

Lack of Dutch courage? The Netherlands is feeling low about Brexit

The Dutch economy is beginning to feel the pinch of Brexit uncertainty, if local media reports are any barometer of concern.

“The Netherlands also has a lot to lose in Brexit,” writes Dutch current affairs portal The report cites employer concerns at major trade hubs and ports such as Rotterdam and Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

“Over 11 per cent of the port’s total imports and exports – some 54 million tonnes – are shipped between the British Isles and the port of Rotterdam every year,” states a communication from the Port of Rotterdam vis-a-vis Brexit.

Landmark events such as the Aalsmeer Flower Auction, the world’s largest flower market, have expressed concerns about the impact Brexit could have on business too. Some 40 million flowers are traded every day in Aalmseer, according to the region’s tourism site.

More than 100,000 jobs are also at stake in the fishing sector, adds the report, citing joint agreements on fishing that may need to be renegotiated.

The Dutch pharmaceutical industry could also be affected as it relies on imports from the UK, according to the article.

See full article…

Last in, first out? France’s largest British community

For one of the largest British communities in France, there is a lot at stake in the Brexit negotiations.

While Brits in Paris, Marseilles, Lyon and other major cities will no doubt be watching the negotiations carefully, more than a quarter of France’s 150,000 resident Brits live in the newly created region of Nouvelle Aquitaine, in southwest France, according to, France’s national statistics office.

Many Brits only moved to the region in the early 2000s. In 1968, there were less than 1,000 UK citizens living in the area, the capital of which is Bordeaux.

Now there are more than 39,000 officially and Brits constitute the second largest foreign population in the region, after the Portuguese, and the largest British community in any French region. The average age of Brits in Nouvelle Aquitaine is 52 and more than 47 percent are retirees.

British visitors also sustain the local tourism industry. Brits booked 545,000 hotel rooms in 2016, 73 percent of all overnight stays in the region. British companies are well embedded in local commerce too; one fifth of all foreign companies in the region are from the UK.

Read full newsletter…

Brexit Events Europe

Get the run down of Brexit events happening all over Europe in the coming months.   Find one close to you.

Another Flying Trip to London: Sue Wilson – September 2017

Another Flying Trip to London: Sue Wilson – September 2017

DExEU – with British in Europe and the3Million

My first meeting of day 1 in London was with fellow British in Europe Steering Committee members, Jane Golding (Chair) from Germany and Fiona Godfrey from Luxembourg. We were meeting in advance of our scheduled appointment at the Department for Exiting the EU, to compare notes and talk strategy. We then headed over to DExEU, which is located in the Ministry of Defence building in Whitehall. Although I had previously attended a DExEU meeting at the British Embassy in Madrid, this was my first time at their offices in Whitehall.

The meeting was hosted by civil servants, and as usual, Chatham House rules apply, so I am not at liberty to discuss our deliberations. Suffice it to say that there was a genuine feeling that some progress is being made on citizens’ rights issues, and I do believe there is a strong will to ensure that we are protected. I just wish that we felt the same level of reassurance after listening to May and her Ministers, as we do when speaking with the Civil Service. The meeting was also attended by 3 members of the 3Million, including their Chair, Nicolas Hatton.

The DExEU meeting overran by 30 minutes, giving me just 15 minutes to get to my next appointment at the Remainiacs recording studio in Soho. In my haste, walking briskly across Trafalgar Square, my “trip” took on new meaning when I went flying landing on my hands & knees. I was more concerned about my phone, which went flying from my hand – I had been using it as a GPS. Thankfully, no damage to phone or person, more embarrassment than injury.

Remainiacs Podcast


I arrived in Soho in time, especially as the Remainiacs podcast was running late. My appearance on the weekly anti-Brexit show had been planned for weeks. However, at the last minute and after weeks of trying, Gina Miller also agreed to be on the show. It was a real bonus for me to finally be able to meet her, having seen her twice at the Supreme Court, but not having been able to get close enough to speak.

She was absolutely charming, and told me that she is currently looking into pensions regarding Brits abroad, so I gave her my business card and will hopefully be able to continue a dialogue. It was also a great pleasure to meet host Ian Dunt, number one on the Insurgents Power 250 List. I was interviewed and recorded for 20 minutes, but will have to wait for a future broadcast date.

Naturally, with Gina being available at the last minute, the broadcast episode on 22nd September was dedicated entirely to her, and I can’t think of anyone I would rather be bumped for.

Listen to the broadcast
The One with Gina Miller

Best for Britain

In the evening, I met with Eloise Todd (CEO) and Sara John of Best for Britain. We were joined by Nacho Romero of Españoles de Reino Unido, who I have worked with often and am happy to call a close friend. I had met with Sara before but this was the first time of meeting with Eloise.

Best for Britain have been very active recently and have very definitely shifted their stance from one of support for a Soft Brexit to a strong position of No Brexit. They are very supportive of everything we are doing and have had some great initiatives recently. A few weeks ago we helped them put together a YouGov survey, and just last week, they brought out an excellent template allowing anyone to write to their MP regarding how they had voted on the Withdrawal Bill. We will continue to work very closely with them, and I will be meeting Eloise again in Brussels, her home town, at the beginning on November. If you are not already a member, please join, so you can keep abreast of their activities.

Sign up to Best for Britain HERE

#StopBrexit Ltd

My final meeting was with Peter French & Patrick Lohlein to discuss the march and rally in Manchester on 1st October. I have met Peter many times before, and was delighted that he asked me again to speak at the #StopBrexit rally. We are all really excited at the prospect of marching on the Tory Party Conference, with our whistles, claxons, bells and horns. The Tory government have not been listening to Brits in EU – on 1st March, we will be impossible to ignore!

Peter tells me that the Jacques Tilly float for the march is coming along nicely, but he is keeping the design a closely guarded secret, despite all my pleas for a sneak preview. Apparently we will love it! Can’t wait for the big reveal in Manchester. I’m sure it will draw a great deal of attention from the world’s press.

What Next?

I have 3 more anti-Brexit trips planned over the next few weeks:

  • 1st October – #Stopbrexit Rally & March on Tory Party conference
  • 3rd November – British in Europe Steering Committee in Brussels
  • 2nd December – Bremain in Spain Annual General Meeting in Málaga
  • 5th December – Next visit to London

If only Ryanair had a frequent flier programme!


Sue Wilson
Chair – Bremain in Spain