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