Hello and it seems appropriate to launch this New update, on St Valentine’s Day, known for its love of fellow man and women! Of late, there has been far too much bashing of our fellow human beings, with the final throes of the American Trump era and political bullying in Hong Kong and Myanmar (Burma). A cynic would wonder if the much treasured democracy was on the downslide; but I’m not a cynic and you will find this an upbeat and optimistic letter.
The Renew Party was started some four years ago, by honourable people who were fed up with politicians. Its watchwords can be seen above and, in headlining these, we stand for decency, levelling up and an end to corruption and ‘ME, ME’ politics. Renew is the ONLY fully registered and accredited Party, in the centre of UK life, neither hard Left, nor hard Right. It has pursued a programme of roadshows and seminars, conferences and zoom meetings, during its admittedly short life, to find out what the people of the (still) United Kingdom really want from their leaders, those who manage the economy of a country which is still number six in terms of overall wealth and which lies at the centre of the Western World. It must also be said, without fear or favour, that of all the UK Parties, Renew is solidly in favour of reforging links with Europe, of which we are indisputably and geographically part. More of this later.
In terms of where Renew is going, you can see on our website, very clearly, the values and main strategic aims, which reflect the feedback from our travels around not only the Union, but also Europe and the Rest of the World, for we must remember that while the UK contains some 47.6 million voters, there are also 1.4 million British passport holders in the remaining 27 countries of the EU and another 3.5 million elsewhere, overseas. All the five million outside the UK have currently either lost their vote in the EU, or if they have lived overseas for more than 15 years, have lost their vote in the UK as well; this in spite of three successive Tory manifesto promises to review the so-called 15 year Rule. After all, a very large proportion of us still pay taxes, in the UK and remember we lost America, under the slogan “No Taxation without Representation”!
So what is Renew actually doing for me? Well quite a lot. Like all fledgling organisations, we’ve had our ups and downs, but we now have a properly established main office in London, we have volunteer Regional Coordinators set up across all the main regions in the UK and in the EU (as an unpaid volunteer, I head up the latter) and we are fielding candidates in the upcoming elections in Scotland and London. This organisation is not just to burnish our egos. We feed back comment, cases and questions to the main operational group in London, (lets face it, for better or worse, the levers of political power in the UK still rest in London and – as you’ll see from the website, we are now receiving quite a lot of press coverage, getting key issues highlighted and answered.
Progress within the EU is also positive and promising and there are three key initiatives:
- European Citizenship. Renew is backing a major legal project, to win European Citizenship for ALL British passport holders, in Europe, in line with an existing EU project for its residents, based on key principles in the Maastricht Treaty. This has passed the first key test, in the French and Belgian Courts, which now rests with the main Courts of Justice for the EU (CJUE), to be considered hopefully early this year. This project is based on a central principle of Maastricht, linked to Human Rights of individuals resident in a country (of the EU).
- This has enormous implications and potential for all of us who are resident in the remaining 27 EU countries, in much the same way that, post-Brexit, we have had in most cases to apply for or renew local residency cards. Citizenship if recognised, will reopen the door to Freedom of Movement in the EU, local elections, recognition of professional qualifications etc. The basic tenet revolves around: “Was I living here, before Brexit? Was I therefore in expectation of continuing to live here? Do my rights as a human being, entitle me to democratic rights to representation within and protection by “the State”?
- Renew is sponsoring this legal initiative, by a French lawyer, Maitre Julien Fouchet and his legal colleagues, but you too can spread the word on and support this initiative, which will work for all of us, if it succeeds. Some of that potential is in YOUR hands.
- Later on, this initiative has the prospect of being extended to others, who are not full-time residents. Perhaps such individuals will be able to acquire an EU passport, to be held in parallel with your own.
- Leadership of this project rests with a Renew Member, Alice Bouilliez, resident in France, who heads up the NEW officially registered Association for the 1.4 million “Britizens” of Europe. A new website, email and funding is being launched NOW. Watch this space.
- The Fifteen Year Rule. This rule prevents those living overseas for more than 15 years, from voting in the UK, thus losing democratic protection including for one’s own family. Many civilised countries, including the USA, do not have this exclusion. Sadly the UK Tory Party actively excluded overseas voters, in the recent elections, by refusing to rescind the 15-year Rule. It will be evident that this effectively pushed out a large number of voters who might have supported “Remaining” in the EU. The Private Member’s Bill which looked to rescind the Rule was deliberately “talked out” by a Tory MP in Parliament. It is not hard to see why.
- In order to make future elections more fair and equitable, Renew looks to amend or rescind the above Rule, as the combined overall effect of Brexit and the Rule is to remove any democratic representation AT ALL, for some 2 million British subjects, approx. 3% of the UK population.
- Constitutional Representation. Of course the ability to vote is all very well, but is limited to a four-year opportunity and a lot can happen in that time. Before Brexit (BB) the British living in the EU also had their interests guarded by elected Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and in one fell swoop, these have been removed. The scope to repair our protective representation can only be replaced by adopting a passport in our local country, or by reintroducing a joint British/EU system, allowing elected individuals to speak for us, either in respective Parliaments, or via the British Foreign Office. This prospect, raised by Paul Fisher, a Renew Member, is in its infancy, but would strengthen your own protection and way of life, where you currently reside. If you support this idea, please let us know.
One point has been raised by a friend of Renew, based in south Africa, but with a home in Spain. He and his family are also impacted by Brexit and, in due course, it is hoped the Citizenship project will help him and others living outside the EU, to regain their access to the EU. One step at a time. 😊
All of the above work is being actively promoted to the senior hierarchy in the EU, but is only as effective as you make it. You can:
- Support it by passing on information, to friends and family
- Take an active part in extending the Renew Network, both in the EU and UK
- Help with seed funding via the Renew and ‘Britizen’ websites. The former is of course active and the latter will be soon. For the moment we rely upon the generosity of Maitre Fouchet and his colleagues, working pro bono, but as we gather momentum, costs will inevitably increase.
And finally. As your Coordinator for Europe (and technically Rest of the World!) I am setting up a slim network, across the EU and its 27 countries. We now have a shared leadership in France (* see below) and an affiliation in Spain, with @BremainInSpain, sharing their objectives and values. I am looking to establish leaders in the other major EU countries, from amongst you. It is not a demanding role, but gives us a central clearing house, for key local issues and news about individual Country initiatives, to pass on and inform. Who knows, you might even establish an active and sociable life around us, post Covid! Whoever you are, you would network to me and provide an amazing service to your fellow Brits, at a time when truth, probity and democracy are in short supply! I really hope some of you will volunteer and step forward: you might even enjoy yourselves, as I do.
Summary. Renew is not standing still: it is pushing forward to rebuild British politics and win back respect and honour, which we have lost during the Brexit saga. This is not about fine words, but real practical steps, which have a potential to improve our rights and our way of life, not just for us, but for our families and friends.
We have the probability of holding up our heads again, in the European Community, ‘renewing’ our self-respect. I commend it to you all and I await your contact.
- * Mme Alice Bouilliez – Co-Coordinator (Renew) France [email protected]
- * Mr Paul Fisher – Co-Coordinator (Renew) France [email protected]
Mr John Moffett, Bremain in Spain Twitter: @BremaininSpain
Terence KNOTT MC, 83440 Montauroux, Var, France Coordinator RENEW (UK) in Europe
The foreword to the RENEW UK Policy Blueprint begins,
“The world around us is changing. Virtually every aspect of life is subject to significant disruption. Our family life, our work life and our relationships with government and big business are all changing at an unprecedented pace, change largely driven by the use and misuse of powerful new technologies. Democracy itself has been affected by these new forces, not always in a positive way. As individuals and as a society, we are finding it difficult to keep up with this change and to chart a stable course through it. This has created widespread frustration and exposed a vacuum of political leadership.
Fundamental aspects of life previously taken for granted are now being questioned. When can we look to government for support and when must we fend for ourselves? What rights do we have as citizens and to what extent must we compromise those rights to accommodate those of our neighbours? Who has a right to govern our lives and what is the limit of their authority? Often the fact that there are no clear and easy answers to these questions leads to further uncertainty and more challenging questions.”
For the British diaspora in Europe or British Europeans, there are additional challenges at the heart of our uncertain citizenship status since the UK left the European Union.
British Europeans are uniquely disadvantaged as they become disenfranchised after 15 years absence from the UK and now cannot vote in their country of residence in the EU. However, we are now in pole position to campaign for both reform in Europe and in Britain based upon the Declaration of Human Rights Article 21 which states that, “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chose representatives.” RENEW UK recognises that the 1.4 million British Europeans need to get their voices heard and can provide a political home which will campaign for their rights in the UK and the EU based upon the individual’s right to political representation where they live and by virtue of their nationality.
RENEW UK is one of the proponents of the European Citizenship initiative which not only strives to embed the rights of British Europeans but may lead to a European passport; it is part of the initiative to reforge the UK’s links with the EU. Furthermore, RENEW UK fully endorses the “Votes for Life” campaign with a view to the establishment of UK Constituencies Abroad.
Recently a correspondent said, “I am keen to get involved but ultimately I want to get more involved in European politics not just UK focussed activities, not that these are not important especially with regard to Citizenship which would eventually lead to proper representation for British residents in Europe.”
If you feel like this correspondent and want to engage with like minded British Europeans then seriously consider participating in RENEW UK to get our voices heard in the UK and the EU. We are seeking to reform our position in the spirit of openness.
Some of you will be feeling very bruised after the nominal signing of the Brexit final agreement (still to be formally ratified by both EU and U.K. parliaments). Some/a few will be cautiously delighted. So be it. We are where we are - move on and I am.
As some will be aware, I have been working for some three months, on a new EU based initiative, to win Citizenship, for the 1.4 million Brits, living, working, studying, in the EU.
This scheme in no way conflicts with Brexit, but it opens the door again, to Freedom of Movement, recognition of professional qualifications and a number of doors (e.g. Erasmus), which have been half-shut by the Brexit ‘agreement’ - namely recognition that Brits living, working and studying in the EU, have the right to be recognised as Citizens, or in our case (most of us) ‘citoyennes’.
I emphasise again that this is not something that should worry the current British government, unless they should prove excessively spiteful, as the scheme does NOT impinge upon your British nationality, or passport.
So here it is. We are working with French lawyers, via French and EU Courts, to grant “Citizenship” to those of you who have a residence and indeed better still a Carte de Sejour (or post-Brexit the renewed Carte, or equivalent). I am honour bound to point out that we still need to transfer this scheme to the other 26 EU countries, other than France that is)....a work in progress.
Where we are now is that we have put two (British) test cases, to the French Courts and in the past month, they have agreed that these “hold merit” and they have passed them to the (European) Courts of Justice for the EU (ECUE). If then agreed, they will probably go to the EU Court for Human Rights, because the principle is that you LIVE in the EU and HAVE lived in the EU and you have had your right to vote, in the EU, taken away unilaterally by Brexit; and for those who have lived here more than 15 years, you’ve lost the right currently to vote in the U.K.- thus losing any democratic representation AT ALL! Bit like ISIS, in fact!
The central argument therefore is that your rights have been removed, without your agreement, to any form of representation, up the chain. In short, your Human Rights have been infringed. I know for a fact, that you’re all intelligent people, so I don’t have to spell it out!
In taking the cases to the CJUE and beyond (more of that below), it will help if we strengthen our hand, with additional “applicants” over and above the current two test cases....a sort of class action.
To that end, I’m asking you to fill in the attached very brief details and email or post it back to me. These will then be collated by our two pro-bono lawyers, in STRICT CONFIDENCE, to be submitted to the ECUE, as collateral support.
Should we be successful, then the matter will proceed up the chain, to the EU Court of Human Rights and possible the EU Parliament and Council of Ministers. The sky's the limit!
All adults can respond. Each person should fill in the form, to return by post, or email, to me. You are strongly encouraged to pass on.
And finally. This is a serious and high profile matter. You are at the cutting edge of 1.4 million Brits, in Europe, living, working, studying, researching; and this applies to ALL your own family, your friends and your colleagues. There is NO RESTRICTION on who can complete this proforma, as long as you have a house in the EU, you have a British passport, or you are married to a Brit.
Go for it! Please fill in the Word document response attached here 😁👍 and send it back to me at [email protected] and please also cc in [email protected]
Happy New Year!
Terence Phayre Knott MC
83440 Montauroux, France
CITIZENSHIP FOR BRITISH SUBJECTS LIVING IN THE EUROPEAN UNION v.6
“Brexit equals the worst case of self-harm.” (John Major, past UK Prime Minister)
“The UK is quintessentially European” (B Johnson, UK Prime Minister, 2020)
There are some 1.4 million British subjects living in the European Union (EU/UE). According to British government sources, 80% of these are working, studying, or researching, while the remaining 20% are living and retired in the EU.
These citizens of the United Kingdom, referred to hereafter as Expatriates, or Expats, (Latin: Ex Patria) have lost their right to vote, in EU parliamentary & local elections, due to the enforcement of British exit (Brexit) from the EU, with effect 1 Jan 2020 (now finalised 1 Jan 2021). In addition, those Expats who have lived in the EU for more than 15 years have also lost the right to vote in all UK elections, despite three consecutive Manifesto promises, by the currently ruling UK Conservative Party. Indeed, a Private Member’s Bill, proposing the rescinding of this loss of rights, was recently and deliberately “talked out” of the British Parliament, by a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP).
Thus, with no vote now in the EU and no vote in their home country, a substantial number of the EU based British Expats, are effectively “stateless”, or without the right to be democratically represented.
Yet the Citizenship of the EU/UE was determined, in 1992, by the Maastricht Treaty and gave “additional legal status, [to be] enjoyed by EVERY person, (an “Individual Right”) holding nationality of a Member State AT THAT MOMENT IN TIME”; and subsequently to other countries that joined.
Therefore it may be argued that British Expats, living and working in the EU, should have the right to be recognised as EU Citizens, with all rights and privileges, that may entail, including Citizenship.
In nearly all cases, British passport holders made a conscious and deliberate decision, for a variety of reasons, to move to and settle in one of the (now) 27 countries that make up the EU.
A recent legal test case has been submitted to the French Courts, by a Maitre Julien Fouchet, arguing that his client, Mme Alice Bouilliez, a British lady living in France for more than 15 years, had the right to and expectation of EU Citizenship.
This application was recently considered by the French Courts. This case has been strengthened by addition of a second case (Mme Strawson). This approval has now been further submitted to the Courts of Justice for the European Union (CJUE), with the intention to gain approval across the EU/UE Countries, (less the UK - which has transited from the EU in 2021).
This test case (see above) refers to someone fully resident in the EU, (as it happens, for more than 15 years). It should not be possible or acceptable to remove that person’s rights to Citizenship, for political reasons; yet this is precisely and effectively what the UK has done.
There are several issues, which pertain to this important matter:
- Duty of Care. Every civilised nation, or group of nations, has a duty of care, for the citizens living within its borders.
- Unintended consequences. Even in the most extreme political jousting, it cannot be considered that some 1.4 million people are effectively disenfranchised from any vote for an elected representative. Currently the British citizens in the EU have been cut off from voting in local EU elections and (after 15 years) from voting in the UK.
- Collateral Damage. It must be considered that those British citizens living in the EU are NOT part & parcel of the current move by the UK, to withdraw from the EU (Brexit). Those living and working in the EU have, under the Maastricht treaty, to be considered as citizens of the EU. As such, UK citizens based in the EU can be considered as “collateral damage”.
- This is also an issue. In implementing the ‘accidental removal’ of voting rights, it can be argued that the British government did not appreciate the extent of the damage done to the democratic rights of 1.4 million British passport-holders. The impact was out of proportion and unreasonable. Even worse, it might be argued that the UK government, in its pursuit of Brexit, did not care for the well-being of its own subjects.
- It is calculated some 97% of EU expats voted against Brexit and (as the President Elect of the USA recently said, in his Thanksgiving speech) “Voting is the noblest form of non-violent protest”; and of course the Right to Vote is the ‘bedrock of Democracy”. Currently, despite three separate Tory Party Manifestos, a British passport holder, (often paying some taxes in the UK), who has resided outside the UK, for more than 15 years, is not entitled to vote; even though members of the British Commonwealth (e.g. Australia, Canada etc) were permitted to vote in the 2016 UK Referendum.
- The implementation of Brexit, is a major subject in its own right, but there are several anomalies, which have occurred; some still under negotiation, at time of going to press:
- British expats are now required to obtain & pay for visas, to travel within the EU. If they travel to friends and families in the UK, they then must prove a right to re-enter an EU country, of residence or business; especially if they are married to an EU citizen.
- Expats must extend their rights to live and work in the EU, even if they have done so for years. Professional qualifications may no longer be recognised (architects, scientists, medical personnel, etc).This does in certain cases involve extra costs (e.g. translation & legal fees) (another example of unintended consequences)
- Under UK law, British women gained various rights (1918), which have now been disrupted. Maitre Fouchet’s client now has less rights than her Suffragette ancestors in 1918 !
- Following Brexit, it is now impossible to insure a British car, without a permanent address in the UK; the same financial issues apply to many UK banks, where the account holder is living fulltime in the EU
- UK spouses cannot now take their partners to the UK, without adequate financial status, or a visa
- Health Care. UK citizens have paid taxes in both the UK and their EU country of domicile and should be entitled to health care, without being financially penalised. (This issue is ongoing)
- Human Rights. The Maastricht Treaty of 1992-3 granted citizenship to any person, from the countries that made up the EU, both then and since, as a basic human right. This is central to democracy and the Rights of Man.
“A vow creates a direction and becomes Paramount”: ( Mahatma Gandhi )
A non-inclusive list of rights would include the right to dignity, fairness, respect and equality, but also to eat, breathe, procreate and vote, without fear of prosecution, or threat to life and living. It should go without saying that these rights must apply to both the rich and poor. Conversely it is wrong that a small group of privileged people should be able to oppress a population, forcing them to obey laws and conditions, which cause stress and hardship, in peacetime. Specifically, in the case of Brexit, in which many British subjects were not allowed to vote, a balance of 52% : 48% on an “advisory vote” should not be a Mandate for such oppression and the removal of Human Rights, from British Subjects; or indeed anyone else.
- Legal Access. Those living in the European Union as citizens, have the inalienable right to refer to, or come before the CJUE. This right comes from the Maastricht Treaty, which refers amongst its Objectives to:
“the introduction of a citizenship of the Union” common to the nationals of the Member States
- In fact, (see above), the two test cases, having been passed by the French Courts, are being brought forward to the CJUE. This is not in itself a political issue, but a matter of simple Law. Basic Human Rights should not be over-ridden by temporary populist whims and pressures, no matter how loudly they may be expressed.
Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms, that belong to EVERY person, in the world, from birth until death. They can never be taken away, although sometimes restricted for example if someone breaks the law, or in the interests of national security. The UK passed the Human Rights Act in 1998.
- The European Union (EU/UE). The EU/UE has a proud record, on equality, standards and fairness. This marches side by side with the purpose of ensuring “democratic functioning”. Indeed the EU/UE currently has a major project, en route, regarding Citizenship, which is due to be considered by the CJUE, (vide ECIT Conference of 1-2 Dec 2020).
In the field of Justice & Home Affairs, the Council of Ministers is exhorted by the Maastricht Treaty, “to inform and consult”.
Given the wide ranging and potentially serious nature of this matter, affecting in total some 1.4 million British Expats, in the EU, it is felt that it should be brought, not only to the attention of the EU Courts, but also to senior representatives of the EU administration and thence, perhaps, to the EU Parliament and Council.
With the advent of the UK Brexit, some 1.4 million British Expats have lost their right to vote, in EU Parliamentary & local elections; and for many, who have lived in Europe for 15 years or over, they cannot vote in UK Elections either. This is utterly undemocratic and impinges heavily upon their Human Rights, to have access to justice, fairness, respect and equality. These cannot be said to exist, without access to democratic representation, not least in the country of domicile.
The Maastricht Treaty of 1992-3 is quite clear on the subject of ALL people living in the countries comprising the EU; and this has effectively and until now included British expats, living and working AND paying taxes, in the EU. Without the ability to vote anywhere, for a substantial proportion of these residents & their families, they are disenfranchised and deprived of democratic representation. They can therefore be said to be deprived of a basic Human Right.
Two recent test cases, brought by Maitre Julien Fouchet, have been placed successfully before the French Courts, which have considered and passed the cases, for further consideration, to the CJUE.
It is felt that this is a serious case, with major ramifications for all British expats in the EU and, accordingly, this Paper is part of an effort to bring the matter to the attention of senior representatives of the EU; with a view to gaining citizenship recognition, for those British passport holders resident in and contributing to the 27 countries, that comprise the EU/UE.
Given the size of this British Community and the intention shown, in moving to live, work (80%), study and research, in the EU/UE, it is evidently to the benefit of said EU/UE, to shelter, aid and cherish, such a community.
The authors of this Paper believe that severe damage has been done to the democratic rights of the 1.4 million British passport holders, living and working in the EU, that they have lost the right to vote, both in the EU and for many of them, in the UK; and consequently their basic Human Rights have also been lost, or at very least severely infringed.
Further this Paper recommends that the above British residents be included in the EU Citizenship scheme and their Freedom of Movement and other rights be restored, alongside their other European compatriots.
Terence Phayre Knott MC
83440 Montauroux, France
2 Jan 2021
Renew’s Alice Bouilliez is appealing to the courts, fighting for the rights of Brits in Europe
CIVIS ROMANUS SUM - CIVIS EUROPEUS SUM
Here I am, a Citizen of the European Union whose rights and privileges have been stripped away from me without me being able to vote on the matter.
Who is it that dares to say that I no longer naturally belong where I have made my home in total legality? That I should need a ‘Carte de Sejour’ to confirm my duty to the state in which I live and work; when only yesterday I enjoyed full and fair rights and privileges?
My only privilege now is to pay my taxes; with what in return? Do I have freedom of movement to live and work in 27 countries? NO! Why not? Because people living in a country that saw my birth, 1000 miles away, and where I can no longer vote, who know nothing of my situation, have decided that ‘they’ are better off stripping ‘my’ rights away. What utter nonsense. How unfair is that?
The treaties demand that decisions on the welfare of European Citizens be taken as close as possible to the people concerned. Those people who voted in the referendum in2016 live very far away from me. They have other preoccupations, such as fishing rights or sovereignty with gunboats to back up their arguments. Those arguments had nothing to do with my situation and yet I have been fully affected by them in a negative way. I have lost my only rights to vote anywhere as a consequence, as well as my Freedom of Movement.
The mass media try to tell me that I am no longer a European Citizen but CIVIS EUROPEUS SUM! Once a European Citizen, always a European Citizen.
Mr Murdoch was visibly furious about being summoned to come before the Parliamentary Select Committee and vowed his vengeance in his newspapers. He appears to have managed.
I started to campaign for our rights when I realised that there was no one in power in the UK with the slightest regard for my situation or the situation of millions of others like me.
To be disenfranchised is a horrible feeling; with one decree you are thrown back into a state similar to that of childhood. Your voice does not matter, your opinions do not change anything. There is a feeling of being bereft. The suffragettes were not fighting for something that they had lost nor for something that they had previously held. They were fighting for new rights. The arguments of the Suffragettes and the abolitionist movement in the USA are just as valid now as they ever were.
I am fighting to regain my rights, to be counted as a grown-up adult.
What happens when you lose the right to vote? You are disenfranchised, this means that you become a child in the eyes of society. A child with no parent or guardian to take up your problems or worries.
Just as an orphan can ask for emancipation when his or her parents die and he or she has to take on the responsibility for a family, so do I ask to be emancipated, to be able to vote again as a fully-fledged European Citizen once more.
Why was there no one there to speak up for me? Unlike other European countries the United Kingdom has no Member of Parliament for those who live outside its borders. France in comparison does have parliamentary representatives for its expatriates, wherever they live in the World.
The only thing or structures that the UK has are the consular services or the British Council (that British citizens have no access to). Consular services have been reduced to mere trade envoys as Mrs Ratcliffe has found to her cost. A British person outside the UK has no support or voice and there is no help. Members of Parliament are unreachable by people who are not their constituents. An MP is not allowed to reply to a letter from someone outside their constituency (James Foley’s case). This system, or lack of it is fine if you have an MP. Not so good if you don’t have one. The only recourse is to write to the Upper House or Her Majesty. The Queen.
I wrote to Lord Hestletine in 2016. To Lord Adonis, To Dominic Grieve who have since become part of the European Movement. The Queen however was unable to concern herself with ‘political’ matters.
Mrs Ratcliffe has an admirable husband who has publicised her case but how many Britons are there with no protection whatsoever? Until January 2020 Britons had access to European Union consular services and ultimately judicial help through the European Union Court system. A person accused of a crime could ask for help from any European Union Embassy or Consular service. This is no longer true.
I was turned away by the guards, from the UK Embassy in Oslo with my British born, dual national Anglo/French son in 2017 when he had a serious personal problem.
What are we to say to Mrs Page who had planned to live out her retirement in a lovely house in the French countryside surrounded by her horse, her dogs and her cats, when after the referendum her income from the UK was slashed by a third due to the Brexit vote, and who is now in a retirement home in Hungerford without her beloved animals?
What do we say to my godfather, Mike Johnson, whose two girls, who have always lived in France and are having difficulty getting their Cartes de Sejour, or the twins who went for French nationality: One was given it , but the other was denied it.
A great many of those worst affected are recently arrived British women, widows, divorcees, wives of EU nationals. Some with children at foot with dual nationality. Which jurisdiction will uphold the rights of divorced couples, in the future?
Collateral damage, you might say, Collateral damage, as if that was a fair excuse.
Life is unfair, you might say, Yes: that is the reason for the existence of the Courts and their Justice system. Remember, last month, that all of these people were European Citizens and totally and legally within their rights to be where they are now. They are now destitute of their rights.
What should we all do in these examples? I do not feel that it is right to wave a ‘flag of convenience, like some clandestine ship’ by taking the nationality of another European country and by virtue of that subterfuge, be recognised once again as a European Citizen (many people cannot for various reasons).
I still am a European Citizen and wish to stay so. I was given Citizenship of Europe by virtue of my country joining the European Union in 1973. Reinforced in 1992 by the Maastricht treaty. From that moment forward I have been a European Citizen I own that Citizenship. It is a fundamental status. My inalienable right, part of my being.
One thing is certain, and that is that on the 31st January 2020 I was a fully fledged European Citizen with all the rights and obligations mentioned in the European Charter of Human rights. Since that date no one has sent me a message personally to tell me that I am no longer a European Citizen. If they had I would have contested it. Instead without warning, I was made aware that I could no longer vote in the municipal elections in March 2020. My name was absent from the register, with the humiliation of being singled out.
During the Brexit negotiations we have all been told that nothing was final until everything was signed. The social side was sadly forgotten.
Why have I been discriminated against? Although everyone understands that geopolitical states are often in flux, there is a growing group of families that are spread over the whole of Europe and these people are often highly educated and possess three or more languages, they need to be able to belong to a group that has distinct protections rights and duties.
Who pays for my European Citizenship? I pay for it at the moment through taxation in my chosen country France. When on European soil the taxes of all European citizens are collected and a proportion is ring fenced for European projects. When outside European soil, the taxes of European citizens have always gone to the country of residence. This should not have to change. The finances of Europe will not suffer from giving me back my rights.
Civil rights are often made to sound like some outlandish impertinence. Nothing could be further from the truth. Basic Human rights are the bedrock of society.
Si vous le voulez en francais je peut le faire.
Mme Alice Bouilliez, France
The journey back will be a long one, but with the reforms to Westminster that Renew is advocating, I believe we can build an even stronger relationship with the EU.
The outcome of the European Parliamentary Elections conducted on the 23rd of May 2019, was instrumental in procuring the Brexit outcome of 2021. This is particular in terms of the post-election Brexit narrative in the European Parliament being dominated by essentially ERG proxies and their embarrassing antics, as well as in terms of the poverty and inadequacy of the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, for there being little to no constructive input from or participation of, the UK in the European Parliament, beyond relentless faux-patriotism, populist vitriol and the regurgitation of gutter-press conspiracy theories, by our last cohort of MEPs.
In these European Parliamentary Elections, an estimated 3 to 4 million eligible voters, or roughly a fifth of the total UK voter turnout were excluded from casting their vote. The affected voters were British citizens living in the EU and European Union citizens resident in the UK; both groups highly likely to be pro-Remain and pro-European.
British citizens living in the EU were not adequately provided with postal votes and thus could not generally participate in the election. The lead-up to this situation for the purposes of EU citizens in the UK, was the application of an effectively new requirement, subject to the European Parliamentary Elections (Franchise of Relevant Citizens of the Union) Regulations 2001 (“2001 Regulations”), made upon such citizens, to make a declaration (on what is known as a UC1 form) stating where in the EU, they intended to vote.
The underlying purpose of this UC1 Declaration, variants of which are also generally required in other EU countries, was to address the possibility of “multiple voting” in the EU Parliamentary elections, where hypothetically a voter crosses EU member-state borders and casts multiple votes in different countries, in the same election. The likelihood of this actually happening is extremely remote, with only one well-known case coming to light, which for the most part seems to have been a publicity stunt of some sort.
UK local authorities, quite peculiarly however completely failed to notify UK-resident EU citizens about the UC1 form requirement and additionally failed to provide this form to such voters, prior to the Election, including to people who expressly and specifically requested the form. Tallies and records of such UK-resident EU citizens in each voting jurisdiction, were however fully available to such local authorities, as they were subsequently implemented on polling day itself, to actively preclude these citizens from voting, in the form of the names of individual European voters scored out in voter-lists at polling stations.
These improprieties were (and are) in breach of the local authorities’ legal duties, relating to the election, in the meaning of the 2001 Regulations, as well of Article 20 of the (then applicable) Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union in general and in particular 2(b): “the right to vote and to stand as candidates in elections to the European Parliament and in municipal elections in their Member State of residence, under the same conditions as nationals of that State…” and of Article. 39 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
In considering questions of Conservative Party “deliberation” in excluding certain sets of eligible voters from voting, it is very striking to note that the 2001 Regulations, which were effectively in force from 2002, had never been applied in any previous European Parliamentary election conducted in the UK. These Regulations were additionally never subject to any kind of government discussion at any level either locally or nationally until November 2018, when the first records of these Regulations being on the mind of the Conservatives start to appear online, with no form of public outreach or any public disclosure of such considerations ever being made. This is further compounded by the strangeness of the fact that the Conservatives suddenly and urgently felt the need to implement an esoteric, twenty-year-old statutory instrument, in anticipation of an election they never intended to participate in; actually confirming the occurrence of the election, on the same day that EU citizens needed to return the UC-1 form.
At the time, aggrieved UK and EU voters did complain and a “#deniedmyvote” crowdfunding campaign was set up seeking judicial review, which ultimately did not amount to much. The Conservatives following such complaints, did next to nothing, other than trotting out mealy-mouthed professional-immigrant and talking head, Baroness Helić, who on Channel 4 News assured the UK that all this was not a “deliberate attempt to exclude EU citizens from voting” and then went on to state how “she understands Brexit voters” and confirmed her faith in the longevity and resilience of the Conservative Party.
As of the 25th of May 2019, for having stood as a candidate in the European Parliamentary Elections, I made a full complaint to the European Commission, on grounds of National Measures Infringing Union law, to which no response is as of yet forthcoming.
Although, just one passing dereliction amongst many, in the run-up to the current complete failure that is Brexit and the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the active disenfranchisement of a significant proportion of the electorate, by the actions and/or omissions of the sitting government, was very much indicative of the future of the integrity of the UK as a functional democracy under the Conservative regime and in hindsight, should have been taken extremely seriously.
The demands of the Conservative Party vis-à-vis this affair leading up to Brexit, seem to be that this almost negligible risk of “multiple-voting”, which had never really concerned any previous UK government, should be accepted by the UK and EU electorates, as enough of a justification for what very much looks like the systematic “de-Europeanisation” and manipulation of the European Parliamentary Elections by the Conservative Party.
The European Parliamentary Elections were illegitimate, particularly from the perspective of those disenfranchised. Acquiescence of that illegitimacy and an inability to actively and aggressively confront it, almost certainly contributed to the realisation of Brexit, but nevertheless in spite of Brexit, this illegitimacy is an inequity, which should yet be addressed and remedied, and most certainly neither forgiven nor forgotten.
Another month goes by and the Government is still struggling to give us the “easiest thing in human history”, as Liam Fox put it. This, keep-calm-and-drink-tea attitude is nothing more than childish ignorance, whilst a deal with the biggest, we repeat, THE BIGGEST, trading partner the UK is supposed to be bringing stability and prosperity to our businesses and everyday lives. This ever looming no-deal outcome is adding what we actually wanted to get rid of: high costs of living and frustrating bureaucracy.
If the Government cannot get Brexit done, the people of Britain and their businesses will have to make their own deal. Below, is a handful of examples of how the government’s lackluster approach is currently affecting this country:
- Food & Drinks: 18% tariff based on WTO terms, unless we wave them through at the border to keep our shelves full to avoid rationing
- Automotives: 4,5% tariff on imported car parts based on WTO terms, while currently more than half of all cars exported are sold to the EU, making British cars less attractive to buy
- Transport: 7,000 lorries waiting at the border, risking making business in the UK so unattractive that haulier may not even be willing to travel to the UK at all. Stockpiling is only a short-term solution.
- Agriculture: under WTO term we must expect 50% on barley, 80% on beef and 45% on lamb
- Finance: 7,500 jobs have already moved from London to the continent! Weakening London as a long-established financial hub
- Medicines: luckily, still traded under EU regulations, but a reliable supply chain will be hampered by unnecessary checks and queues at the border
All this hassle and upheaval is more reminiscent of a late Soviet Russia than a modern, sovereign Britain in the 21st century, and the cost of this mismanagement will be passed on to the average consumer. Brexit reality in our wallets. Is this what Vote Leave was selling us during their campaign? Certainly not. This is clearly not the deal the people of Britain want.
How many have already lost their job during the pandemic? How many are already struggling to feed their kids? How many already need to close their pubs and shops? Brexit will hit most those that need stability.
What’s for Christmas, Prime Minister?
Written by Alex Haida, spokesperson on Europe. All opinions in this article reflect those of the author and not of the Renew Party.
How many have already lost their job during the pandemic? How many are already
struggling to feed their kids? How many already need to close their pubs and shops? Brexit
will hit most those that need stability.
What’s for Christmas, Prime Minister?
Renew’s man in Europe, Terry Knott, has written to him MP, Gillian Keegan to raise the issue of the Internal Market Bill
As you know, the House of Lords has decisively rejected the government’s Internal Market Bill and this should tell Mr Johnson and his government, of which you are part, that this is emphatically a bad Bill; and one which has caused massive unease and condemnation, across the global community.
Needless to say, the new Biden team, plus the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi have also made their adverse feelings plain; and if the Tories are not careful, this will spill over, into any future trading arrangements, at a time when Brexit and our relations with the EU are wobbling badly.
Apart from my loathing of Brexit, of which you are fully aware, I fully accept that the government must make the best of a bad job, which will involve spinning the end negotiations, to put a brave face on it; “tant pis” as the French would say. But we are now dangerously close to the wire, in our negotiations with Brussels and we cannot afford to keep playing chicken, with 27 other countries.
Whatever the failings of the EU and there are of course some, the good parts vastly outweigh the bad; and Mr Johnson and his colleagues must realise that there is a built in momentum for the EU, that firstly prevents them ‘turning on a sixpence’ and secondly prevents individual countries from keeping up with the last minutes vacillation and manoeuvres of the U.K. Cabinet. In short, you are all treading a dangerous path and I urge you to stop it and consolidate what you have got.
No Deal and all that implies is simply not worth it; and the sad thing is that many of your colleagues are not sufficiently well-informed to realise that; nor for that matter is 90% of the U.K. population.
Finally, we have spent cash, more than equalling our total national GDP, on battling the Corona virus. Now is not the time to add the chaos that will ensue from a NoDeal Brexit.
Let us settle for what we have, with the EU and agree gracefully, a common approach to the future. Whether we like it or not, we have been geographic and economic neighbours for thousands of years and Brexit is but a side show, in the grand scheme of things, whatever Mr Johnson’s ego may be telling him.
Please add your common sense to the plea for reason, versus further aggression.
Renew’s man in Europe, Terry Knott, has been working closely with two eminent French lawyers who are trying to win the right for British people living in Europe to retain their EU citizenship. This is an English translation of their case.
Michel Barnier said, last week,that among the thorny issues to be resolved by the negotiators in charge of the future relations after Brexit, between the European Union and the United Kingdom, is that of the status of British citizens residing in the territory of the European Union, the "Brexpats" [Latin: Ex Patria, Out of Country].
Until now, we had hardly heard anything about this subject. The topics invited to the media table were rather [about] fishing, or fair competition between the two economies, confirming [giving] the impression that Europe is definitely more interested in people's wallets than in their hearts.
Anyone who rubs shoulders with the Brexpats knows their dismay. The withdrawal of the United Kingdom is creating all kinds of uncertainties, particularly regarding the right to reside in their [present] country of residence, where they have sometimes been living for several decades, but also regarding their social rights, their tax duties, the visa system, their electoral or property rights which, as Mr Barnier [EU] points out, have not yet been clarified, despite the many rounds of discussions between the Union [EU] and the United Kingdom. The legal proceedings they have initiated have either failed to resolve their great bitterness, or are ongoing.
We can thus be pleased with this return of the human element, to the concerns of negotiators, but on reflection, Michel Barnier's [recent] remark seems curious. Shouldn't the status of Brexpats in the European Union interest the Union [EU] alone? Why on earth should it be a subject for negotiation with the United Kingdom? Because the status of the 1.7 million Brexpats [approx. estimate] is inseparable from that of the 3 million "Brimpats", the citizens of the EU residing in the United Kingdom, in this area, solutions must be reciprocal.
Everyone understands this, but there is one major difference that must be noted: Brimpats have never been British citizens, whereas, like you and me, when the British voted for the Brexit, Brexpats were, often from birth, citizens of the European Union. This raises the question of whether the Brexit has really made [is making] them lose their European citizenship.
In terms of legal appearances, the answer is positive, since the founding treaties of the European Union make citizenship of the Union dependent on the nationality of a Member State. If a State leaves the Union, then its nationals should no longer be citizens of the Union.
However, this appearance [condition] comes up against certain difficulties.
European citizenship connects every European citizen first and foremost to the European Union. Thanks to it, every European citizen voting in the European Parliament, has a right to address petitions to the European Parliament, a right to have recourse to the European Ombudsman, a right to address the European institutions in one of the languages of the Treaties and to receive a reply in the same language.
These rights may seem remote for each, but the right to vote in the European Parliament is essential: half of the rights and obligations of every European citizen emanate from the European Parliament. Who can claim that it is indifferent to him or her to vote, democratically, for who will decide half of what concerns him or her?
To limit ourselves to one example, who can believe that, without the power of the European Union and the vigilance of the Court of Justice, his personal data could have been effectively protected, unlike that of the American, or Chinese citizen, … if he at least made the effort to really want it?
The European Union also has an obligation not only to treat each citizen without discriminating against him or her, on the basis of nationality, gender, origin, convictions, religion, disability or sexual orientation, but also to combat discrimination.
Who can believe [maintain] that this drive for equality is a distant preoccupation?
European citizenship also connects each European citizen to each of the other Member States. Thanks to it, it is possible to move as freely between Paris and Brussels, as between London and Liverpool, between Strasbourg and Copenhagen, as between Liverpool and Scapa Flow, between Luxembourg and Rome, as between Scapa Flow and Portsmouth. We know better now how precious geographical carelessness is, since it has left us all the way to the interior of the borders.
But, if it was only a question of moving around… European citizenship is also the right to settle freely in another Member State. This is how 350,000 French people are Brimpats, just as some 400,000 Brexpats have chosen France. Isn’t it just as wonderful for a young Auvergne man to seek his fortune in London, as it is for a native of Liverpool to live peacefully in the Dordogne, during his retirement?
European citizenship even means the right to vote in municipal elections in the country where you live. French citizens living in Manchester vote to designate local authorities, just as the Brexpats living in Barcelona vote for municipal elections.
Everyone knows the burden of local taxes. Who can deny [refuse] the weight of the corresponding vote?
These few examples, which are by no means exhaustive, illustrate how European citizenship affects almost every aspect of our personal and collective life: the right to vote, freedom [of movement], opportunity, equality, employment and social rights, communication, computing...[etc.]
European citizenship thus belongs intimately to the individual. It is a part of his being and it should not be possible to deny it to him. It is a good for him and it should not be possible to deprive him of it.
Unless he renounces it. And, what makes it possible to consider that the Brexpats, who remained on the territory of the European Union and thus demonstrated their attachment to Europe, in spite of Brexit, would have renounced their European citizenship? Certainly not the sovereign, albeit unthinking, choice of their fellow [British] citizens.
The United Kingdom has just recognised Brimpats' right to vote in local elections. It has thus made a gesture of good will in terms of British citizenship. Let us plead for Brexpats to retain their European citizenship on this side of the Pas-de-Calais. By making this effort, the European Union would be renewing the gesture of its democratic values.
As Cicero said, a people is not just any gathering of men, assembled in a certain way, but the gathering of a multitude, whose association is based on a legal organisation and a community of interests. For the French, there is also the desire to live together. Whether they live in France, Germany, Greece or Estonia, Brexpats are part of a legal organisation, belong to a community of interests, and prove that they want to continue to live with us. By this choice, they have integrated [with] the European people. There is no reason why the European people should not keep them in their midst.
Again and again, let us borrow the conclusion from Winston Churchill: "Having lived in those days, I propose to show to what extent the structures and practices of democratic states, which are not united in larger organisations, are deprived of those elements of persistence and conviction, which alone can guarantee security for the mass of the humble... how necessary it is that many states advance together on a broad path of international action, from year to year, whatever the ebb and flow of national policies."
By voting for Brexit, British people have served us one of those ebbs and flows of national policy, that should encourage us Europeans to resist a very natural reactive temptation and to keep the Brexpats in our [European] union. Between China, which is advancing resolutely in this modern despotism of which it has succeeded, thanks to a viral crisis, in offering us the model, and the United States, which is reacting tensely to this competition that it considers imperfect, they will help us, with their fighting spirit, to guarantee our security and prosperity to all of us. And they will help to protect Brimpats.
Paper and legal text by: Maitre Julien Fouchet, lawyer at the bar of Bordeaux (France)
Where the original text has been written from a legal, French perspective, certain words have been inserted or clarified, by the translator in square brackets [thus] to ensure the bi-lingual meaning is clear.