British citizens living throughout Europe will be heading to the UK capital on Saturday 23 September to make their voices heard at the National Rejoin March. They include members of Bremain in Spain, who will be flying over and meeting to march together on the day.
Representatives of Volt Europa will be also attending to show their support for their friends in the UK. Volt is a pan-European political movement, founded on the same day the UK formally announced its intention to leave the European Union, with over 100 elected officials across Europe. And MEPs Guy Verhofstadt and Terry Reintke will be travelling from Brussels once again to speak at the post-march rally and extend the EU hand of friendship.
Those hardest hit by the consequences of Brexit include many who had no say in the decision to leave the EU: British citizens living in the EU, European citizens in the UK, and young people. This year’s National Rejoin March (NRM) will focus strongly on these groups, and the march organisers hope they will be visibly represented on the day.
Key speakers at the National Rejoin March
Speakers at the rally, who will tell marchers about their hopes and dreams for a future UK within Europe, include:
Lisa is a British citizen who has lived in Lanzarote for ten years. As Bremain in Spain’s Vice Chair, Lisa will be speaking on behalf of British citizens in Spain and the rest of Europe, calling for the restoration of our rights, and those of future generations of British citizens, to live, love, study and work in the EU:
“As a British immigrant living in Spain, five years ago I was still feeling angry and betrayed by the UK Government over its handling of Brexit but, due to my geographical location, I felt utterly powerless to do anything about it. Then I found citizens’ rights group Bremain in Spain and I directed those feelings into becoming a campaigner.
“This year I will be speaking on stage at the National Rejoin March, hoping to change people’s perceptions of freedom of movement and of us British immigrants living in the EU. Rejoining the EU is inevitable and it’s about time our politicians accepted that.”
Rachele is an Italian European who lives in Barcelona and is co-president of Volt España. At the National Rejoin March, Rachele will be telling marchers why young Europeans want to see the UK rejoin the EU family:
“When Brexit was about to happen, I made the mistake of believing it would never happen and woke up in a different Europe. But I decided to act. I found in Volt a community of Europeans committed to making Europe a home by empowering people to speak out and act to realise the present we want, a present of unity in diversity.”
Stella is a Greek citizen who moved to the UK two years ago to pursue her dream studies and now considers it her home. She has a master’s degree in Human Rights and Politics from the London School of Economics and is a dedicated advocate in the realm of human rights and youth activism. Stella will be speaking at the National Rejoin March about all the aspects of Brexit that have affected her life in the UK as a young European citizen and her vision for the future of younger generations.
“I will never forget the day that I first moved to London to pursue my studies. Before landing, I was still afraid that something would go wrong with my visa. It was truly terrifying. Living in the UK with a visa feels like your dreams, your relations, your whole life that you have worked hard to build have an ‘expiration date’.
“That’s why I’ve decided to share my story on 23 September. I am not there to blame anyone for the past, but I hope that my words can have a minor, yet meaningful impact on a brighter, more inclusive future. A future where no one’s dreams are bound by a timeline.”
A warm welcome
Other young pro-European speakers will include Ceira Casey Sargent, who was too young to vote in the referendum that will affect the rest of her life; 2018 Young European of the Year, Madeleina Kay; and campaigner Femi Oluwole.
National Rejoin March organiser Peter Corr says he is “delighted to welcome friends and campaigners from across Europe” and is calling on marchers to “flood London with the flags of all European nations”. Bremain in Spain members will be carrying Spanish flags, representing the country and regions where we have made our homes, together with our EU flags and our Rejoin banners. Marchers are all encouraged to carry the flags of the EU countries they are from or with which they have family or emotional connections.
“It is no small feat to travel from Spain, or any EU country, to London to demonstrate how strongly we still feel about Brexit,” says Sue Wilson, Bremain in Spain’s chair.
“Whatever barriers the government, or the mainstream media, place in our way, we will not stop. Ever since the Brexit referendum in 2016, Bremain in Spain has been at every event, every rally, ensuring the voices of Britons abroad are heard. Whether chanting from the street or making speeches from the stage, we have been there in numbers, every single time.
“We marched for an end to Brexit, we marched for a second referendum, and we’ll keep marching until the politicians catch up with common sense and the British public and take us back into the EU, where we belong.”
Why we are going to the march
John Moffett and Keir Duncan are travelling from their home in southern Spain because, as Keir says:
“While working in the UK I was asked by colleagues why I cared so much about Brexit because I lived in Spain. I used to tell them that living in Spain didn’t stop me from being British or caring about the country of my birth. A country that gave me a well-rounded education that taught me good, fair, decent and honest values.
“It matters more now that the realities of Brexit are starting to bite. The lies are being seen for what they are and, before the damage becomes too great, I feel the need to stand up and be counted. If, by travelling to the UK and proudly marching through the streets of London alongside hundreds of thousands of others, I can do something to dispel the apathy which seems to afflict so many with regard to Brexit, then it will be a day well spent.”
Travelling over from Benidorm, Trevor Perfect was a civil servant in the UK and attended EU meetings in Brussels:
“I realised how influential we were in the EU and how important it was internationally to be part of it: when we had something agreed within the EU we voted as a block of 27 countries in global meetings. This gave us more power in international negotiations.
“I now live in Spain, so I know that it is extremely important for us to rejoin the EU to help people from the UK now living in Spain or who want to move there. If you are not resident in Spain, you can only stay here and be in a house that you have purchased for 90 days. Bar owners in Benidorm, where I now live, have said to me that they would like to employ British people to work with them in Spain, but because of Brexit it is extremely difficult.”
Mallorca resident Tracey O’Rourke also attended last year’s National Rejoin March and is flying over again because “firstly, I have made lots of friends through the Bremain group and look forward to meeting them in our common cause, but, more importantly, because I still believe we are better off in the EU, and as Brexit becomes more discredited, it is essential to keep that possibility in the public eye, with a march like this to show that there are other options, ending in rejoining.”
Join the march
With a general election due next year, this year’s march is politically very significant. Public opinion has now swung firmly in favour of Rejoin, but politicians want voters to think about anything but the failure of Brexit. This is potentially the last opportunity to show them that they have got it wrong. So, get to the march and make your voice matter. The more who attend the bigger the impact will be. Book your flight, train or bus* now, and don’t miss the most important march of the year. See you in London on 23 September!
*Find coaches to London from locations around the UK. For marchers from Yorkshire, there is a coach from Leeds, picking up at Junction 38 of the M1 for Wakefield and Meadowhall for Sheffield, and one from York via Wetherby.