Members' corner

August 14, 2016 2:31 PM

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I am still seething with anger and dismay at the Brexit result. Under normal circumstances I would be inclined reluctantly to say that a democratic vote must be respected. In this case, however, the circumstances are far from being normal: the disastrous outcome was achieved by such manifestly mendacious and fraudulent means that it can and should be treated as null and void. Legally a referendum is purely consultative and only parliament has the right to decide. In commercial law, I believe, a contract may be set aside if it can be shown that a party to the contract was deliberately deceived. The Leave campaign deliberately played on irrational and misinformed apprehensions [while attributing scare-tactics to their opponents!].
The buffoon Johnson toured the country in a bus emblazoned with a lie so blatant that he himself admitted its inaccuracy as soon as the vote had been safely counted. Now this cynical idiot who should be facing prosecution has been rewarded by the new Tory administration with a critically important position in the cabinet. All this deception might have been of no avail to the Brexiteers, had we had in place a parliamentary opposition worthy of the name. But no, the Labour Party is currently in the hands of a bunch of looney-leftist Socialist-Workers-Party entryists, while Corbyn (who is on record, incidentally, as regarding Venezuela under Chávez and Maduro as his political ideal!) for contorted reasons of his own deliberately sabotaged the Remain campaign. And who is going to suffer most from the inevitable economic consequences of this suicidal folly? The working classes Labour is supposed to defend. True, the majority of Labour MPs are belatedly trying to get rid of Corbyn, but the entryists have played their cards with such cunning that this is proving damnedly difficult.
There is talk of May calling a snap autumn election. Should that happen, with the Tories and Labour in disarray, the LibDems stand a good chance of making a historical breakthrough. There must be millions of voters outraged by the Brexit-vote who feel let down by both major parties. Those are the votes we should be preparing to garner.


"I totally agree on keeping up the pressure for a second referendum and that in the forthcoming negotiation the status of British expats in the EU should be safeguarded no matter what, including the right to equal access to work, healthcare, pensions and the ability to acquire property. Similar concessions will need to be given to EU citizens residing in the UK to ensure reciprocity: a fast-track to (associate) citizenship could be considered for long-term EU residents intent on remaining in the UK, similarly to the scheme invoked in the Greens in Germany for Brits living abroad there.

I would argue that we need to convince MPs, the government and the public that British expats working and living in the EU matter and that our rights need to be protected first and foremost, before restrictions on immigration are considered.Additionally, looking at Brexit more broadly, we need to highlight the disastrous consequences of Brexit for the economy: the economy is already forecast to slide in a recession and its been only a month since the vote. Several firms have already announced that tens of thousands of UK jobs will be cut, and some sectors will be hit harder, including construction, commercial property (where a new financial crisis is looming), and agriculture which relies on EU workers for seasonal harvests. I would like to highlight every single job which is lost, every office which is relocated or downsized, and every private company or public hospital which is forced to close because it doesn't have access to the right workforce.
I believe that, realistically, we are likely to end in a Norway-style situation with full access to the single market with mostly cosmetic limitations to freedom of movement, and that the people most likely to gain from the referendum will be lawyers, who will benefit from the need to write so many new treaties while charging the taxpayer for the service.
So, in summary, Rights of British expats before stops on EU immigration, Brexit is plunging the economy into a new financial crisis, and that the only real winners from the referendum will be law firms at the tax payers' expense".

Before the referendum, BELD member Gill Foster shared her testimonial through our Facebook page. We continue to campaign on behalf of our members against the harmful repercussions of Brexit:

My husband and I retired in 2002 and decided to make our home in France. At that time there was no hint that Britain might wish to leave the European Union. Therefore, we embarked on our new life with every confidence that we would be able to live out our days as Europeans. At present we benefit from reciprocal agreements on health services and also receive our British pensions and any updates.

We live in a small house in a small town and take part in local life including voting in municipal elections. We have good English and French friends. We are both in our seventies and, so far, have been blessed with good health. Our private health insurance pays for medication and treatment not fully covered by the excellent French health service. We like it here.

We have a right of residence in France but what will happen if Britain leaves the EU ? We do not know. No-one can tell us what would happen. I am not aware of any 'exit plan' which will take into account the hundreds of thousands of retired British people who have made their homes abroad.

Perhaps, the next UK government will restore voting rights and annul the fifteen year ban. Or, perhaps not ! In the meantime, what can we do to make our voices heard ? We can lobby MP's and government ministers and we can make sure that we register and use our votes while we can. What is decided in the forthcoming Referendum will affect us all.

Gill Foster
27 January 2016.

Dear Mr Johnson,

It seems, as the new Foreign Minister, that you are to take a leading role in looking after our future as EU-resident Brits. Before further ado, in case you are not yet aware of the priorities, I will list them:

1) Status. We need, as soon as possible, to have this cause of immense stress removed. We moved within the EU, quite legally, to live and work. With the resources at your disposal, we must entrust you with the task of ensuring that we remain legal citizens in our chosen EU countries. Naturalisation is costly, time-consuming and dependent on fluency in the language. My husband and I are 'fortunate' in this last respect, but many older people are not, so this option is not available to them even if cost and time are not an issue. On this subject, we are not bargaining chips; we are human beings, covered by a number of international human rights agreements. More on this below.

2) Pensions. Though we are paying into the French pension system, we will be reliant on the UK state pensions into which we've paid for most of our lives to achieve a decent standard of living. For many retired free-movers, their only pension comes from the UK. We need a guarantee that these will be honoured and fully index-linked, and that reciprocal agreements with our host countries will remain in place for affected individuals during their lifetime.

3) Healthcare. Again, we are 'lucky' in that we are covered by the French system as working individuals. Many are not. Again, you must guarantee that the reciprocal arrangement remains during our lifetime.

4) Property. We must be guaranteed the right to sell our property as EU citizens, i.e. not to be subject to taxation as foreigners. Incidentally, if this does not happen, the UK might get more than it bargained for, with a sharp influx of pensioners who can't live on their denuded pensions and can't afford a property in the UK from the sale of that which they own in the EU - many of whom will need extended NHS care.

Most importantly, at this stage, I must implore you to CEASE using the kind of language that you did at the French embassy on the 14th July. It betrays a woeful ignorance on your part, but also puts us at the very risk you claim to be protecting us from.

Please note, here in France, the idea of us not being 'allowed to stay' has not been so much as hinted at. We moved here legally, we work here legally, and it is no fault of ours that our government was bullied into a referendum that would land us all in this mess. We have encountered pity, bafflement and hilarity at Britain's expense - but at no point has it been mooted that we should be 'deported'.

By implying that 'letting them stay' would be some magnanimous gesture to French citizens resident in the UK, you are making a passive threat that - to my knowledge - none of the grown-up countries in the rest of the EU have even contemplated. These people are not all waiters on a gap year, as you insultingly imply: they are parents, grandparents, cousins, and all sorts of other relationships, to British citizens; they are partners, husbands and wives; they are property owners - employers and employees of long standing. Just like us, they have legally taken up residence in another EU member state and put down deep roots. All governments of the EU - but particularly yours - have an absolute DUTY to ensure that our rights are protected. This is not a deal to be done, and should never be alluded to as such. Far from preventing poor treatment of Brits in the EU, by threatening to treat French UK residents appallingly (and illegally), you will only invoke hitherto unthinkable threats in retaliation. This is so clear to those of us on the other side, yet apparently beyond rocket science to some in the government. Please plug your brain in!

Obviously, it is early days with respect to the legality of a referendum the result of which effectively strips a part of the citizenship of a country's own citizens despite no wrongdoing on their part. Suffice to say, there are enough of us out here, devastated by this result and the dishonest, dirty campaign that won it, who will contest that legality at the highest level. Especially given that many of us were arbitrarily denied a vote in the most important poll of our lives.

The millions of Brits in the EU are - each and every one of us - too valuable to be treated by our government as we have been. Of the pensioners, some are war veterans, and all have paid into the system for their entire working lives. We too have contributed much over the years. For those reliant on sterling, their future out of the UK is already in jeopardy, and will certainly be if healthcare reciprocity is not maintained. The thinking behind the nonsensical 15-year rule that denies many people a vote (in the only country of which they are citizens) betrays a glaring oversight on the part of the British government: we are all unofficial ambassadors for the UK. At the moment, we have no good words to say about it, and even you should acknowledge that that's a crying shame".

Anonymous. 27/07/16

Norman Longworth

The Magicians of Brexit

When Britain is ditching a half of its trade
With few real alternatives to sell what it's made
The Magicians of Brexit will magically find
Shining new markets from the back of their mind

When foreign investors move elsewhere from fear
That Europe's large marketplace will disappear
The Magicians of Brexit pretend that's not bad
There's always plenty more jobs to be had.

When asked where the new jobs can possibly be
When the British economy's half up a tree
The Magicians of Brexit say that's mongering fear
By mystical means the jobs will appear

When hundreds of companies lose market appeal
And Britain's financials go elsewhere to deal
The Magicians of Brexit say this won't ensue
The skies over Britain will always be blue

When Obama points out what is obviously true
That Britain will go to the back of the queue
The Magicians of Brexit say that that's mongering scare
No matter it's true - they don't really care

When crucial decisions all need thinking through
And likely outcomes need serious review
The Magicians of Brexit reject such a notion
They'd rather it's based on hearsay and emotion

When Europe's had peace in the past 80 years
In a continent noted for hatred and wars
The Magicians of Brexit don't have this in their bible
For them history lessons are still very tribal

When a country can't work with its neighbouring nations
And instead it decides to embrace isolation
The Magicians of Brexit say that's being free
And their friends in the press will always agree

Free to be poor and with no wherewithal
In a weakening country's no freedom at all
The Magicians of Brexit say that's sovereignty
After all's said and done - we're British you see.

Britannia in Peril

The lights are going out over Britannia
There's a whiff of isolation in the air
True leadership means more than bolting up the door
When Europe doesn't do as it is told

Beware, beware you people of Britannia
Of dubious calls to set the nation free
Best to use intelligence and figure out the consequence
Of making choices based on bigotry

Reflect on Europe's people in Britannia
The demagogues are urging you to leave it
They'll deceive you without shame, it's a power-seeking game
And they'll ruin the economy to achieve it.

Take care, take care please! people of Britannia
Democracy can be the devil's tool
Make your mind up by deciding if the demagogue are lying
And if you're being taken for a fool

Think twice, think twice you people of Britannia
We're living at a very scary time
The challenge now is whether we can better work together
To create a safer global paradigm

Think well, think well you people of Britannia
We're coming to decision-making hour
A vote to leave will end in a country without friends
No markets, no future and no power

Prejudice is widespread in Britannia
Chauvinism's flag is now unfurled
It locks the mind in chains and disengages brains
From thinking how to face the modern world

Xenophobia's rampant in Britannia
A darkness of the spirit's in the land
The fear of immigration has blinded the whole nation
And the ghost of isolation is at hand

Wake up, Wake up you people of Britannia
Don't leave your tolerance rotting on the shelf
UKIP is a creature whose overriding feature
Is its lack of vision outside of itself

Watch out, watch out you people of Britannia
The neo nazi movement's on its way
Britain uber alles is, one of many fallacies
That's peddled by the media every day

Take thought, take thought you people of Britannia
Think carefully about your future role
Abandoning your neighbours doesn't do you any favours
It's more likely to put people on the dole

Take heed, take heed you people of Britannia
Of those who help create the nation's wealth
Don't join the mindless crowd or let yourself be cowed
By false messages that jeopardise its-health

Beware! Beware! you people of Britannia
Mistrust the mere emotional appeals
Decisions need some thought to show you can't be bought
By arguments that simply are not real

Watch out, watch out you people of Britannia
The facile path is easier to find
Nationalism's call is an option for us all
But it closes down your open-ness of mind

Reflect, reflect you people of Britannia
On the strategies that protect your tiny land
On a planet full of hate, true patriots will debate
How our continent can give helping hand

Switch on, switch on you people of Britannia
You can help to make the world a better place
Let wisdom have its head, show idealism instead
Its hour of need's no time to turn your face

Walk tall, walk tall you people of Britannia
Let inspiration rule your hearts and minds
Let your actions have the power, let creative vision flower
Be a beacon for a troubled world to find

The 21st century's coming to Britannia
The European wars are history
But European nations all need cooperation
To make the continent aggression-free.