SPANISH PERSPECTIVE OF BREXIT

Bremain in Spain AGM in Málaga

A Group Photo of Members of Bremain In Spain, gathered in Málaga for the association’s Annual General Meeting.
Bremain In Spain AGM 2021, Málaga

Málaga, the second largest city in Andalusia, has been a thriving European port since Phoenician times, through Roman and Moorish eras to the current day. Its strategic plans embrace the concepts of sustainability, innovation and culture. In 2020 it received the title of European Capital of Smart Tourism. An appropriate venue for Bremain in Spain’s strategy deliberations and Annual General Meeting in late October. 

Our Journey There

Málaga is a five-hour drive from my home in Spain. I decide to go by the coastal route and return through the Sierra Nevada and Granada mountains to show Magdalena the diverse scenery of southern Spain. She found a dog boarding place for Bonnie to stay in the mountains north-east of Málaga. I know those mountains; Magdalena didn’t.

Let me just say that the last few kilometres were along a narrow, one-way, “unadopted” track with a steep drop to one side.

We arrived a day early in order to take part in the evening in a group “Ruta de Tapas”. This is a tasting of tapas and drinks at different hostelries, organised by one of our staunch Bremain in Spain members, Michael Soffe. 

Bremain In Spain Strategy

Michael also organised the venue for our Strategy and AGM days with a top floor conference room and outdoor area with adequate social spacing. Saturday was a long, seven-hour day reaffirming our long-term vision of rejoining the EU and campaigning for single market and customs union membership.

For the short and medium-term future, we concentrated on how the group should realign its focus post-Brexit to maintain the closest possible links between the EU and UK. This will require strengthening our relationships with EU institutions and like-minded pro EU groups. Our ideas were put to AGM attendees the following day for debate and agreement.

A full list of our mission objectives is at www.bremaininspain.com/about/our-mission/.

Time to Relax With Pablo!

A successful meeting must lead into a time to get to know fellow members better. We adjourned for a meal outside an English owned restaurant in Plaza de la Merced where there is a statue of Picasso. The house where he was born is close by.

I sat opposite Mike Zollo, who has been a prolific writer for West Country Bylines. He worked for many years as a civilian training adviser to the Royal Navy. It doesn’t surprise me to learn he taught many of my Fleet Air Arm colleagues. This is what it’s all about!

My network of pro EU supporters is steadily growing. The greater our network of friends the more able we are to demonstrate the follies of Brexit and campaign for representation of UK nationals abroad and restoration of our rights as EU citizens. 

We were fortunate to witness the procession of the Virgen de la Paloma (Dove). The throne carrying her statue is so heavy it must be carried by 526 people in two turns of 263 each.

It is preceded by bands to give the marching beat and a team carrying lighted torches. Every so often it stopped for a rest. In an adjacent plaza there was a protest of Covid Anti-Vaxxers. The local police were busy that night. 

Bremain In Spain’s Chair, Sue Wilson, sitting on the knee of the bronze statue of Pablo Picasso.

As October is Picasso’s birthday month, our group leader Sue decrees that the Bremain in Spain Council members shall have our photo taken by his statue. Followed by her personal thanks to him for allowing us to do so!

How Time Flies!

A month has passed already and implementation of our strategy is underway. We are already partners with the European Movement.

Our Vice Chair of Bremain in Spain has now been elected to the European Movement (EM) Council. Your editor Magdalena has been elected as members representative for South East England. Each member of Bremain’s Council has elected to follow up our agreed objectives, be it involvement with EM’s support to the EU Conference on the Future of Europe or extending our reach out a wider audience to support our priority campaigns.

How can the UK not be contributing to the future of Europe, its nearest neighbour? In the past month it has become increasingly clear that the most pressing problems that affect the whole continent can only be solved by working together. 

Immigration

The UK must stop its illegal “push back” policy that fosters people smugglers and drowns innocent migrants who have a right to be assessed as refugees. In 2020 there were 79.6 million legal refugees. The UK took just 20 339 of them. That’s just 0.026%. The EU must find a way of controlling its external borders and reaching a consensus on sharing support of legal refugees.

While Putin masses obsolescent tanks on Ukraine’s border is he not also using asymmetric warfare to cause dissent between EU nations by covert support of the massing of migrants on the border of Belarussia and Poland? Sir Nick Carter recently warned of this when passing the role of Chief of Defence Staff from the Army to Navy Admiral Sir Tony Radakin.

Surely this is part of the EU’s debate on its future security and defence. Yet the UK now has no participation in the formulation of Europe’s future security and defence policy.

Electoral Reform and Democracy

The EU is a moving target. It will continue to evolve. It recognises it needs electoral reform and the UK is the only nation in Europe that retains “first past the post” elections.

The new German coalition will press harder for a federated Europe. The French elections will become a contest between Macron and the newly emerged far right Eric Zemmour. Does Keir Starmer’s recent Shadow Cabinet reform indicate a shift to the centre?

All these issues are part of the EU Conference on the Future of Europe. And they are much bigger than Brexit. Democracy itself is under attack. A healthy democracy is one that listens to the voice of its people.