20,000 back our EU citizenship campaign

20,000 people have now given their support to our campaign for pro-European Brits to keep their EU citizenship, if Brexit ends up going ahead. Here’s the link to add your name.

Brexit might not happen, of course. If the British people change their minds before we leave, it would be bizarre and anti-democratic for them not to be free to do so.

But Brexit might happen, so we need to think about what our Plan B should be. And we believe that that means convincing the EU to be generous enough to let us stay part of their great project even if the UK departs.

Since we set up this blog back in mid-October to pitch the idea of individual opt-in EU citizenship for pro-EU Brits post-Brexit (HERE is he original post), the idea has been proposed in the European Parliament by Luxembourg Liberal MEP Charles Goerens and championed too by Belgian MEP and leader of the Liberal group of MEPs Guy Verhofstadt.

We have written about the idea too, like HERE in The New European.

We recognise that we’re asking a big favour. We realise too that full citizenship may be too big an ask, so it might be some kind of associate citizenship, or some other new kind of idea. We realise too that we would almost certainly have to pay an individual fee for it. But we still want in.

If you support this idea, please add your name to the 20,000 who have so far backed us. You can add your name HERE.

The European Parliament has inserted into their Brexit negotiating position that there should be some solution for pro-EU Brits who face being abandoned in Brexit Britain. And MEPs have real power in this; they have to okay any exit deal for it to go ahead.

This, or something close to it, could happen. So, please, if you want to keep your EU citizenship should Brexit really happen then sign up to support our efforts, and you can do that by clicking HERE.

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Over 4,000 have signed Guy Verhofstadt letter so far. Why not add your name too?

Over 4,000 people have added their names to our open letter to Guy Verhofstadt, the Liberal MEP and the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator. Any exit deal between the EU and the UK will need to be approved by MEPs in the European Parliament.

Our letter, which we’d love you to sign, supports Mr Verhofstadt’s plan for pro-EU Brits to be offered some kind of opt-in individual associate citizenship of the EU, if the UK ends up leaving the European Union. You can read a recent report about the idea HERE.

Here’s the text:

Dear Mr Verhofstadt

This letter to you is signed by [insert final number] people.

We wanted to write to thank you for your efforts to allow UK nationals who value their EU citizenship to retain it, or a form of it, post-Brexit. We value not only the freedoms and opportunities it gives us, but also that it makes us a part of the most successful peace project in history.

Theresa May does not speak for us. She has made no attempt to reach out to, or in any way represent, us or any of the 16 million people who voted Remain on 23rd June last year. Indeed, you speak for us far better and more eloquently than she ever has.

We wish you every success in your attempt to get this idea on the agenda of the Brexit talks and into the final deal. We back you 100%.

Of course, we also want an equally generous settlement for other EU nationals too.

Thank you for everything that you are doing, and good luck!

Yours sincerely

To add your name to our open letter to Guy Verhofstadt, just click HERE. Thank you.

UPDATE: we have now sent the letter, so we cannot accept any more signatures to it – BUT you can still sign up to support our campaign for continuing EU citizenship for pro-EU Brits post-Brexit. Find out about that, and find the link to sign up HERE.

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Want to keep your EU passport? Here’s how.

I’m angry. I’m angry because I’m about to be stripped of my EU citizenship. I was asked if I wanted to keep it. I said I did. But it’s being torn from my hands nonetheless. But I’ve got an idea…

There will come a moment, on a date we don’t yet know, when as the clocks strike 12 the UK will tumble out of the European Union. At a stroke, tens of millions of Brits will lose the right to live, work, study and retire with the minimum of fuss across 27 other European countries. It will be a meaningful, tangible and instant loss of opportunity and freedom – one forced on 60+ million people by the 17 million who voted Leave on 23rd June.

But the sense of foreboding loss that I feel goes deeper than simply losing the legal right to go grey in Gran Canaria. To many of us our European citizenship is as important as our British citizenship (for some, even more so). We’re proud of it. It stands for something important – a belief that as a continent we’re better and stronger together, not broken up, bickering and Balkanised. We’ve tried that before; it doesn’t end well.

Some of my friends and people I work with are lucky. The good fortune of having a father born in Ireland means one can clamber aboard the shamrock lifeboat. Another has been able to claim German citizenship. Another, Cypriot.

Whilst they get to keep the burgundy passport – the ticket to being able to move freely across pretty much the entire continent and to continued citizenship of a noble project – the rest of us await our fate.

But do we have to? Do we have to just accept our lot? I don’t think we do. Let me explain.

Right now, EU citizens are only EU citizens because they’re citizens of the United Kingdom, or Germany, or France, or of one or other EU Member State. So, it’s an inconvenient and unwelcome fact that when the UK ceases to be an EU country, we cease to be EU citizens.

It’s also a fact that more people voted Leave than Remain. We can point out that it was a narrow victory (51.9% to 48.1%) and that the Leave case was a pack of lies abandoned almost instantly by anyone with anything to do with it. But nonetheless the UK Government can claim a mandate to negotiate the UK’s exit from the bloc.

You see the problem? Under current rules, those of us who value being EU citizens have to lose out for Brexit to happen.

But there is a way to square this circle. The EU could allow individuals to become citizens of it directly. They could decouple EU citizenship from citizenship of an EU Member State. Initially at least it could be a special case, only applying to citizens of a departing member.

And it would be ‘opt in’. You’d have to apply. Maybe you’d have to pass a citizenship test, demonstrating knowledge of Europe and the EU. Perhaps you’d have to make a public declaration of support for the EU.

By doing this, British pro-Europeans can maintain their EU citizenship, whilst the anti-Europeans can shake it off. The UK gets to leave; we get to stay. We’re still British citizens. We continue to live (most of us) here in the UK. We simply become British/EU dual nationals with one of these in our pocket…

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Nothing is taken away from those who voted Leave. They get what they wanted – a UK exit from the EU. They can even take us out of the Single Market and the customs union, if they want to completely trash the economy.

It gives something to those who want it, without taking anything from those who don’t.

But why would the rest of the EU offer us this? Well, with the UK exiting, the EU will shrink. The idea of the European Union might be seen by some as on the wane. That it’s an idea that’s had its day. But it’s not. And having Brits queuing up to take out EU citizenship – waving EU passports for the TV cameras like Apple Store customers on the day a new iPhone model is released – would inject some much-needed ‘va va voom’ back into the idea of the EU.

If they needed a little extra inducement, what if every new British/EU dual national paid a subscription fee, the equivalent of what we’re currently paying for EU membership through our taxes?

Last year, the UK’s contribution to the EU was £17.8bn gross; £12.9bn post-rebate; and £8.5bn net (after one knocks off all the money we get back for things like farm subsidies). I am using a House of Commons Library briefing paper as a source here. The Office for National Statistics estimates that the population of the UK last year was 65,110,000. So, in 2015, we each paid an average of £22.78 (gross), £16.51 (post-rebate), and £10.88 (net) per calendar month to belong to the EU. Take your pick. It’s freedom of movement meets Netflix.

So, there it is. There’s my idea. I think it works. I think it’s a neat way to square a circle that lets the UK Government implement the result of the referendum, enables British pro-Europeans to keep their citizenship of the most successful peace project in history, whilst providing the EU with a little pep at a time when it needs it.

You with me? I hope so because I want to see if this idea can fly. The first thing we need to do is find out if there’s support for this. I think there is. When I asked on Facebook and Twitter, there seemed to be.

So, what I am asking is this – if you support me, if you want to keep that burgundy passport and continue to sashay through the EU passport channel then sign up to support the idea here. Please also leave a comment below. We’ll see how much support there is and take it from there.

UPDATE: 20,000 people have now signed up to support this campaign. To add your name, please click HERE and use THIS link. Thanks.

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