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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Will you join us in signing this letter to Guy Verhofstadt?

Liberal MEP Guy Verhofstadt is the European Parliament’s lead Brexit negotiator. Any Brexit deal will require the approval of the European Parliament – without it, the deal will fall.

Mr Verhofstadt backs the idea of giving British people the right to opt in to some kind of associate EU citizenship if Brexit happens. Here’s a link to one report about what he’s said.

With the negotiations about to start, we are going to send Mr Verhofstadt a letter, and we’re inviting you to join us in signing it. The text is below; please read it, and if you want to sign it too then click HERE to add your name.

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

If you like the letter and want to add your name, click here to be taken to the page where you can do exactly that. Thank you!

UPDATE: we’ve now sent the letter to Mr Verhofstadt, so you cannot any longer sign it – BUT you can still sign up to support the campaign; find out about that HERE.

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We need to lobby our MEPs on EU citizenship.

Wow – what a response! In the middle of last month, I set up this blog and wrote its first post. It set out a simple idea: that if Brexit happens, individual pro-EU Brits who don’t want to leave should be free to take out European citizenship directly with the EU.

I tweeted a link and shared it on Facebook. And boom! Within a few days it had been read by more than 100,000 people, and over 16,000 have now signed up to support the idea (click HERE to join them). Over 500 people have left positive comments on the blog post, and I’ve had many messages of support on social media too.

I’ve been working hard to get the word out. Most recently, I wrote a piece for this week’s The New European; you can read that HERE. I’ve also started the job of getting the message out amongst our fellow Europeans too; here’s a link to a post I wrote for an English-language Swedish news site.

But here’s the real game-changer. A Liberal MEP from Luxembourg called Charles Goerens is pushing the idea in the European Parliament. He’s written a piece for the Independent setting out some of the detail. This could really be happening…

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Before we get too excited, there are lots of hurdles that this idea must clear. Lots. But, importantly, it is no longer just an idea on a blog. The ball is rolling – and getting it rolling is always the hardest part.

It’s important right now that we, as pro-Europeans, contact our representatives. We need to show them that there are lots of people who don’t want to have their European citizenship revoked. And what is being proposed here is a positive way to ensure that it isn’t.

What we all need to do now – right now – is contact our MEPs. This is really important. Below is all the information you need about how to contact them, detail about the amendment that Charles Goerens MEP is proposing, and the text of what I am sending to my MEPs.

First of all, don’t worry if you don’t know who represents you in the European Parliament. You can use the WriteToThem website. It’s free, and all you have to do is input your postcode. You will have several MEPs, and they all represent you. That’s because groups of MEPs collectively represent large areas of the UK (Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and the regions of England), rather than you just having one constituency MEP. You can send them messages individually, using WriteToThem, or click on a link to send them all the same message in one go. And remember – it’s simple and free.

The European Parliament’s UK website also lists all the UK’s MEPs and their contact details. You just need to know which part of the UK you live in.

So, that’s who represents you. What should you be saying to them? The report we are emailing MEPs about is currently before the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO). It is in the name of Guy Verhofstadt MEP and its reference is 2014/2248(INI). The specific amendment is in the name of Charles Goerens MEP, and is number 882. Below is a screenshot of the amendment, and here is a link to a .pdf of proposed amendments to the report (search for “882” to get to the one we want).

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And here is what I have sent to my MEPs:

Dear …

Re: support for amendment 882 to AFCO report 2014/2248(INI).

I am writing to you in support of a proposal that is currently before the European Parliament. Specifically, I support amendment 882, in the name of Charles Goerens MEP, to Constitutional Affairs Committee report 2014/2248(INI). This amendment would give nationals of countries that have left the European Union the freedom to choose whether or not to take out associate citizenship of the EU directly, as individuals.

This has obvious implications for UK nationals given that the UK Government plans shortly to begin the process of leaving the EU.

This amendment does not in any way seek to frustrate the process of exit. If approved, there would be no requirement to participate on those who want no part of the EU. It forces nothing on anyone. What it would do however is allow those who value their EU citizenship the freedom to maintain it, at least on an “associate citizenship” basis.

The amendment is currently before the Constitutional Affairs Committee; if passed there, it will come before all MEPs. I support this idea, and I ask you to vote for it and to encourage other MEPs in your political group to do the same.

I would welcome your response, and look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely

Feel free to use that text, or modify it. I think it’s short, simple and clear. Please do share MEPs’ responses. It is useful to know what they are planning to do when this comes to a vote.

And share a link to this blog post on your social media too – there are lots of buttons at the end to help you do that. Email it to friends who might sympathise. And remember – this idea would not force anything on anyone. If a person doesn’t like the EU, they wouldn’t have to apply for citizenship. But what it does do is give choice to those who want to keep it.

Thanks for your support.

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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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