Monday, 4 November 2019

Our request to the European Movement UK — Countering the misleading slogan of "let's get Brexit done"

Dear Lord Heseltine,

I am writing to you as acting President of the British European Movement in France, Geoff Ross our President being currently away from Europe.  We have just held a meeting to discuss the current Brexit position, a number of those present having returned from the march in London, and great concern was voiced about the strength of support for the Government’s withdrawal plan on the grounds of Brexit weariness and support for the slogan “let’s get it over and done with”.

Our conclusion was that it is vital for the European Movement to campaign to explain why this slogan is so misleading.  The two main grounds for such a campaign should be:
  1. The proposed Withdrawal Agreement states that: “The objective of the Withdrawal Agreement is not to establish a permanent relationship between the Union and the United Kingdom. The provisions of this Protocol are therefore intended to apply only temporarily”.  So, should that Agreement be finalised, all the work on concluding a final agreement will have to start all over again.
  2. That, however, is far from all.  The Political Declaration sets our numerous areas of further joint work to be undertaken.  We have listed these areas, there are in all 52 of them, many of them involving areas that are likely to be controversial and also many that require participation at ministerial level.  I do not think it necessary for me to bother you with this list but can readily send it to you should you so wish. 
Some of our members still receive communications from the Conservative Party.  One of these says: “Together, as a country, we’re moving forward.  We’re getting Brexit done – because with Brexit out of the way, we can focus on our priorities like the NHS, police and schools.”  The country needs to understand that this is false; the proposed agreement does the opposite in that it increases the amount of work and the probability of Brexit disputes.  Of course the only way to get Brexit out of the way is the revocation of the UK’s Article 50 declaration.

The campaign that you are leading is greatly appreciated by British expatriates in France and, I am sure, more widely.  You will continue to have our grateful support.
Yours sincerely,

Dan Jacobs
Acting President of the British European Movement in France

Monday, 30 September 2019

Roger Boaden on why he can no longer call himself a Conservative

Roger Boaden, a former Conservative party staff member, voting rights campaigner and member of BiE steering committee, has written a great article on why he no longer feels like he belongs in the Conservative party.

You can read it here on

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

The European Parliament election results

by Robin Baker

The number of votes cast in the European Parliamentary election in the UK together with my assumption as to whether those voters were supports of Brexit of remain were:

            % of votes
Pro Brexit
Pro remain
Lib Dem 
Change UK         
Plaid Cymru 

So, based on this assumption it appears that the number of those voting pro-Brexit exceeded the number voting for remain.

But in fact some Labour voters, indeed probably the majority, were actually remain supporters.  If just 38% (that is 5.8% of all voters) were remain supporters and the rest supporters of Brexit, then there were more remain than Brexit voters.

Of course drawing any conclusion form these results is dangerous, among other reasons because of the low poll.  However it seems to be to be very probable that more than half the Labour voters were in favour of remain.  If I am right, then despite all the Farage cheering and boasting, then these results are encouraging for remainers. 

Monday, 27 May 2019

Lessons from nature...

by Robin Baker

One of the advantages of being retired is that one can follow diverse interests.  On 23rd May I was this watching a wild-life programme on TV5.  It contrasted the behaviour of elephant seals and killer whales.  The male elephant seals spent their lives fighting each other to give the winner the right to mate with the females.  The females fed their pups for two weeks after their birth and then left them to their own devices without even taking them into the sea, so that they could reproduce again.  Many of these you,g did not last very long.
In contrast, the female killer whales care for their calves for at least 2 years.  They feed them and they also train them.  The film showed killer whales hunting and then taking their prey to share with a mother who was feeding her calf and so could not hunt herself.  It also showed a group of them hunting by beaching themselves where there were seals on the beach which they could catch, and teaching the young how to do this.  All their hunting was done in groups which meant that they could feed in a way that have been possible for a whale hunting alone.
Is there, I thought, a lesson in this for the way in which countries benefit from working in groups together or by standing separately alone?

Monday, 6 May 2019

England's local election results

By Robin Baker

The results of the local elections in England on 2nd May were:

% change
Liberal Democrats
Others (mainly independents)
Of course local election results are heavily influenced by national political issues, but one must be careful not to misinterpret these figures.  They do not show that anti-Brexit parties came out as winners.  Indeed Conservative and Labour between them won two thirds of the seats.  But they do give a strong signal that the swing in popular political thinking today is away from Brexit.  Bearing in mind the narrowness of the referendum result in 2016, the change in what we now know what Brexit would mean and the appreciation of the lies used by Brexiteers to win the referendum, I do believe that they provide strong evidence in support of a people’s vote.

The Prime Minister’s comment on the result was that they show that people “want us to get on and deliver Brexit”.  That seems to me to be as intelligent and honest as most of her comments on Brexit.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

European Parliament political groupings

The European movement Ireland have just published a very handy guide to the political groupings at the European Parliament. Read about it here:

Friday, 26 April 2019

Richard Ashworth to head list for Change UK party in South East England

by Robin Baker

Richard Ashworth, who spoke at the BEMF dinner on 23rd November, announced that he had joined The Independent Group, now Change UK, on 16 April.  Julie Girling, another former Conservative MEP, is also standing for Change UK.  Both these MEPs remain members of the European People's Party group in the European Parliament.
As head of the Party’s list in a constituency where the remain vote was strong, it is very probably that he will be re-elected.  I can still vote in the UK until end November, and so will be delighted to be able to vote for Richard.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

“Suddenly, we kinda know what's going on”

Ian Dunt, editor of the excellent and their ‘week in review’ newsletter has written a very insightful article about the decision of the European Council to extend, conditionally, Britain's deadline for leaving the or May 22.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Richard Ashworth's speech to the European Parliament

On 27th March, Richard Ashworth, Conservative MEP, gave the following speech in the European Parliament:

Madam President, on behalf of a million people on the streets in London, on behalf of six million people who have signed the petition and on behalf of 63% of the British population who did not vote for Brexit, I want to say thank you to President Tusk. I want to say thank you to this House for the support you’re showing and I want to reassure you that Nigel Farage does not speak on behalf of that 63% of the population.
May I add, as a comment, to the European people that, for over 25 years now, no British Prime Minister ever explained to the British people what Europe did, what the benefits are and why it matters. They never defended against the untruths which were spoken and they never took ownership of the decisions that they took in Council. Because of that, the British press ran a 20—year campaign based on populist mistruths, lies and deceit. The consequence of that we see today: Britain as a sad nation divided like never before and a House of Commons in crisis. So let Brexit stand as a cautionary tale to the people of Europe.
To the people of Europe I say this: you are the generation who have lived through the longest period of peace and the greatest level of prosperity ever. Never take it for granted. Value it. Fight for it. Defend it every day.
(Prolonged applause)
You can watch a video of the speech here.

Friday, 29 March 2019

A fascinating and very challenging article about Brexit

A fascinating and very challenging article about Brexit, by Stephen Byers, a former British MP, has been published in the New York Times.  It is well worth reading.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Theresa May's speech – March 2019

by Robin Baker

Theresa May’s televised speech to the country was probably the most dishonest that has been made since Anthony Eden and the Suez invasion.  I am sure that our Prime Minster would not want to leave it in that dishonest state.  So always being anxious to help, here I offer her some suggestions, in red below, to make it honest.

“Nearly three years have passed since the public voted to leave the European Union.
It was, the biggest democratic exercise in our country’s history provided, that is, that you consider holding a referendum on such an issue to be democratic in a country that has consistently taken such decisions through the established system of parliamentary democracy.

I came to office on a promise to deliver on that verdict.
In March 2017, I triggered the Article 50 process for the UK to exit the EU – and Parliament
supported it overwhelmingly.  Unfortunately I then called an unnecessary general election for the following June, thereby wasting 50 days of the two years provided by Article 50 .  Worse, the result of the election was a hung parliament which is the worst possible result for seeking an agreement that could command the support of the parliament. 

That is the principal reason why, two years on, MPs have been unable to agree on a way to implement the UK’s withdrawal.  The second reason is that I have been totally inflexible in the proposal that I have put to the House of Commons, despite the fact that it has been overwhelmingly rejected twice.

As a result, we will now not leave on time with a deal on 29 March.
This delay is a matter of great personal regret for me despite the fact that it is actually in the interest of the country I lead.

And of this I am absolutely sure: you the public have had enough.
You are tired of the infighting.
You are tired of the political games and the arcane procedural rows.
Tired of me putting the same question to the Commons when I and everybody else have known has had no chance of being accepted because even the strongest pro-Brexiteers recognise that it is worse than remaining an EU member.
Tired of MPs talking about nothing else but Brexit when you have real concerns about our
children’s schools, our National Health Service, and knife crime.
You want this stage of the Brexit process to be over and done with.

I agree. I am on your side.
It is now time for MPs to decide.

So today I have written to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, to request a
short extension of Article 50 up to the 30 June to give MPs the time to make a final choice.
Do they want to leave the EU with a deal which delivers on the result of the referendum –
that takes back control of our money, borders and laws while protecting jobs and our
national security?

Do they want to leave without a deal?

Or do they not want to leave at all, causing what I am pretending would be potentially irreparable damage to public trust despite the fact that the pro-Brexit campaign was based on lies about the financial effects by a man whom I subsequently rewarded by appointing him Foreign Secretary, a job in which he showed himself to be incompetent, and the fact that the situation is now totally different from what was expected when the referendum was held
not just in this generation of politicians, but to our entire democratic process?
It is high time we made a decision.
So far, Parliament has done everything possible to avoid making a choice.
Motion after motion and amendment after amendment have been tabled without
Parliament ever deciding what it wants, in part because I keep trying to get them to approve the same deal they have already rejected.

All MPs have been willing to say is what they do not want.
I passionately hope MPs will find a way to back the deal I have negotiated with the EU.
A deal that delivers on the result of the referendum and is the very best deal negotiable.
I will continue to work night and day to secure the support of my colleagues, the DUP and others for this deal.

But I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than 30 June.
Some argue that I am making the wrong choice, and I should ask for a longer extension to
the end of the year or beyond, to give more time for politicians to argue over the way
That would mean asking you to vote in European Elections, nearly three years after our
country decided to leave.
What kind of message would that send?
And just how bitter and divisive would that election campaign be at a time when the country
desperately needs bringing back together?
Some have suggested holding a second referendum.
I don’t believe that is what you want – and it is not what I want because clearly one should never put the same question twice, - oh oops, no I cannot say that now can I?  Actually it’s because you might give me an answer that will show that I have been wasting my and the country’s time over the past two years.

We asked you the question already and you gave us your answer.
Now you want us to get on with it.
And that is what I am determined to do despite the harm it will cause to our country.  But don’t worry too much, I have been determined to do lots of things in which I have failed.”

Robin Baker

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

(Post Brexit ?) Meeting and Debate

Hello everyone,
·     the conclusion of Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement with the EU on November 14, 
·         its defeat in Parliament on January 15 by a historic majority of 203 votes
·   the unsuccessful attempts, last week,  by Geoffrey Cox to renegotiate the agreement
·   the key votes planned in Parliament next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

And following British European Movement , France (BEMF) past events, notably :
·      the joint BEMF/BiE meeting  on halloween   
·   the successful dinner on November 23 with Richard Ashworth MEP as guest speaker
·  the convivial Mince Pie and Mulled Wine Evening on December 12th
…..all three attended by over 27 people, the BEMF is now planning a new Spring meeting to be held on April 10th, 12 days after the current (non extended) March 29 deadline for leaving the EU (and 2 days after the 115th anniversary of the 1904 Entente Cordiale, negotiated from 1898 to 1904 and finally signed on April 8 1904 in Paris)
This new event will take the form of a debate organised as follows:
1.       An address by Christopher Chantrey, Vice Chairman of the British Community Committee in France and Treasurer of British in Europe (BiE) who will update us on the BiE’s negotiations with the French Ministry of the Interior and give us his his views on the situation concerning our cartes de séjour post Brexit (see also the attched files)
2.       An open debate on our situation and concerns as the Third Country nationals we will all become in France, post Brexit, notably touching on
·           Where does the UK go from here ?
·           What will Brexit mean for me, personally ?
The Debate will take place next month (in just 4 1/2 weeks, so save the date !) :
· at 7pm on Wednesday April 10
·  in the Saint George’s Anglican Church parish hall at 7 rue Auguste Vacquerie in the XVI th   arrondissemen( (near the place de l’Etoile)  

The debate, itself, will be followed by a verre de l’amitié enabling you to meet old friends and,  of course,  to network.
To cover our costs (hire of hall and wine) we will be asking everyone to make a contribution of €10 payable at the door.
                       *          *          *
Everyone is invited (not just members of the British European Movement, France)  but we invite all of you, who are not already members, to join the BEMF.
The annual subscription is just €25, payable by cheque or bank transfer, and that also covers simultaneous membership of the European Movement UK whose Newsletters and periodic mail updates you will receive regularly .
                       *          *          *
The debate promises to be a very positive event and hopefully it will respond to many of the questions you are asking yourself at this critical time and in a much less formal and more open way than the British Embassy Outreach meetings some of you may already have attended  
No holds barred !
We hope to see as many of you as possible on April 10 !
Best regards from

Geoff  (Chair, BEMF), Elisabeth (Treasurer) and Dan (Secretary)

Friday, 1 February 2019

British citizens' rights comparison table

BiE Steering group member, Kalba Meadows, has produced a very useful table which compares our present status as EU citizens with the rights we will have, after the end of the transition period, under the Withdrawal Agreement and what will probably happen from 30 March this year in the case of a no deal (though this could vary from country to country). Under the Withdrawal Agreement, our rights will be the same as now, apart from political rights, until 31 December 2020.

 Covered in all EU states
⭕  Covered in some EU states
?   Still unknown or details unknown
❌  Not covered

  Right as a British citizen currently
  resident in the EU 
 right as
Withdrawal Agreement / ring-fenced rights 
Reside, work and study in current country of residence 
Residence rights acquired (if conditions met) and status doesn’t have to be applied for 
Automatic right to move, reside or work in EU country other than country of residence  
Be joined by existing family members (spouse, partner in durable relationship, ascendants /descendants who are directly dependent on you) 
Be joined by future spouses 
For those with permanent residence: move away from host country - return within 2 years and retain status 
For those with permanent residence: move away from host country - return after 3-5 years and retain status 
Return to UK with EU or non-EU family under EU régime 
Continue working in more than one country as frontier worker 
Recognition of professional qualifications in host country 
 (if specific recognition decision) 
Recognition of professional qualifications beyond host country 
Provide cross border services as self-employed persons 
Study in UK on ‘home fees’ rather than international fees 
Social security aggregation: previous periods of insurance in other EU countries taken into account to calculate pension benefits 
Export of benefits 
Reciprocal health care for those eligible for S1 
UK driving licence remains valid in host country 
Participate in local elections in host country 
Stand in local elections in host country 
Participate in European elections in host country 
Seek consular protection from other EU states in third country 
Oversight and governance: binding rights with direct effect 
Same rights apply to British residents in all EU states                       ❌