Solidarity with Ukraine

Berkshire for Europe stands with the Ukraine, a fellow European country invaded by a despot trying to rebuild the Russian empire. The age of empires is in the past. I am of Latvian heritage and the horrors of the Russian occupation are still raw scars even though it was decades ago. The brutal invasion of Ukraine should be resisted by all freedom loving nations. If you want to support the Ukrainian struggle, show solidarity by assisting the local Ukrainian Community Centre, who are actively demonstrating and supporting their relations in the homeland. Click here for a link to their Facebook page.

Please also consider writing to your MP to ask for Ukrainian citizens to be allowed to enter the UK freely without a Visa. Currently our government are not facilitating this, even though other countries, such as Ireland, have done so.

You might also like to donate to the Embassy of Ukraine – they are raising money to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine’s civilian population. Click here for more information.

The Chairman’s views

From the January 2020 newsletter

Well, what a difference a month makes! Boris Johnson and Partygate! Are we to see the end of possibly the worse Prime Minster since Lord North? This is a case of political arrogance and it’s a blatant example of his one rule for me and another rule for ‘the plebs’ arrogance! The man was sacked as a journalist for lying, which says a lot. The current disputes over the Northern Ireland protocol show that Johnson is not in control of his brief and that he has a poor understanding of what he signed up for. He is not fit to be Prime Minster. But the question remains, who will replace him, and will they be any better? Or alternatively, will the Sue Gray report be a ‘grey wash’?

And we still await the mythical benefits of Brexit. I do not think a Crown mark on a pint mug is one, as there was nothing stopping us having the mark when we were a member of the EU. The under reporting of the Brexit-related queues at Dover by the mainstream media is concerning. It is interesting to note that BBC Reality Check team contradicted a BBC news report which stated that the Dover Chaos was not caused by Brexit!

Anti-Farage protest

Berkshire for Europe has been waking up from its winter slumber. Events have driven us to action! The first was Nigel Farage’s visit to Reading for the BBC Radio 4 Any Questions programme. We had to give the man, who has caused this country immeasurable harm, a ‘warm’ Reading welcome. Other groups joined us at the venue of Reading Minster, including Steve Bray and his SODEM friends and we certainly made our presence known during the broadcast.

The protest gave Berkshire for Europe and our friends Open Britain Reading our best local media coverage ever! Coverage in the Reading Chronicle can be found here: Nigel Farage called ‘fascist’ on BBC 4’s Any Questions | Reading Chronicle

Also, our letter to the editor explaining why we protested was published in full. Read it here Protest against Farage – Campaign For Europe In Berkshire (home.blog)

We also had coverage in the Reading Today publication. My thanks to Mark Palmer for organising the demonstration at very short notice.

‘Kill the Bill’ demonstration

Berkshire for Europe with our friends Open Britain Reading also attended XR’s demonstration in support of amending or even killing this government’s undemocratic bills. These bills are designed to curtail protest, and support voter suppression by the introduction of voter photographic I.D. Coverage was again gained in the Reading Chronicle: Extinction Rebellion, Unite and others protest in Broad Street against police and crime bill | Reading Chronicle.

Protest against Farage

On Friday, Berkshire for Europe and Open Britain Reading, along with other groups, demonstrated at Reading Minster against the presence of Nigel Farage on the panel of Any Questions.

We are pro EU groups who support closer ties with our friends in the EU with the aim of Customs Union and Single Market membership and thereafter the potential to rejoin as a voting member.

Mr Farage, through his actions, has diminished the UK’s standing in the world and weakened our negotiating powers. More favourable trade deals are with those with greater economic strength – which the EU has. He has also weakened the western alliance in the face of the increasingly assertive Russia and China. The fishing industry has been thrown under bus, an industry he famously championed under his message of ‘taking back control’. Withdrawal from the single market and customs union has added to the costly red tape burden on industry, which is the exact opposite of what Farage and his friends promised. Then there is the question of Northern Ireland. Brexit may yet sink the Good Friday agreement – people may die! His actions could facilitate the break-up of the UK! And separately to the Brexit arguments, his comments about the RNLI show a complete disregard for the lives of those seeking sanctuary.

We also objected to presence of Nigel Farage on Any Questions in general. He appears on BBC programmes a disproportionate number of times, to the determent of other groups. There are other right-wing commentators and parties – why are they not chosen more often?

For these reasons Berkshire for Europe and Open Britain Reading will continue to protest against Farage and his dangerous populist ideology when he visits Berkshire. The man has done incalculable harm to the UK.

Berkshire for Europe

Open Britain Reading

Rejoining the EU with Prof. A. C. Grayling

Rejoining the EU: How & When, and what we need to do to make it happen sooner rather than later – some very practical suggestions included. Tickets available here.

Bio: A. C. Grayling CBE MA DPhil (Oxon) FRSA FRSL is the Founder and Principal of New College of the Humanities at Northeastern University, and its Professor of Philosophy. He is also a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford. He is the author of over thirty books of philosophy, biography, history of ideas, and essays. He was for a number of years a columnist on the Guardian, the Times, and Prospect magazine. He has contributed to many leading newspapers in the UK, US and Australia, and to BBC radios 4, 3 and the World Service, for which he did the annual ‘Exchanges at the Frontier’ series; and he has often appeared on television. He has twice been a judge on the Booker Prize, in 2014 serving as the Chair of the judging panel. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Vice President of Humanists UK, Patron of the Defence Humanists, Honorary Associate of the Secular Society, and a Patron of Dignity in Dying.

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This event is organised by Berkshire for Europe; Oxford for Europe; and Hants for Europe

EU Citizens – 94 days until the Deadline!

Dear Supporters and  Friends!

Campaigns – Updates on EU Citizens & Settled Status!
ActNow!
We are contacting you today in connection with #actnowEUSS campaign namely to raise awareness of the deadline for EU and EFTA citizens resident in the UK to apply for settlement status.  Today there are only 94 days left until the application deadline on 30th June 2021.   Please take a few minutes to watch this video as it gives a comprehensive background to the urgency.    https://youtu.be/xtPNwozO0kw
The #actnowEUSS campaign has been tweeting and posting messages over the past 4 weeks to highlight the 30 countries whose citizens are affected.  With only 94 days left we have much to do locally… 

Report it!
Have you heard of anyone with a problem with their application for settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme? Struggling to apply?  Still waiting for a decision?  Or they received the wrong status?  Or have they been granted a status but are struggling to prove it because you haven’t been given a physical proof of status? The3million have an excellent site for collecting these experiences at the3million | Report it

Join Us – Campaigning Next Steps – Thursday 1st April at 8pm!
Together with Berkshire for Europe, we are hosting a Zoom webinarSmall Step Campaigning: Erasmus, Musicians, The Veterinary Bill! EU Citizens: Next Steps!Preparing for Local Elections & Getting Your European Voice Heard!And, Much More!Look forward to Seeing you at the Zoom Session  – All Details Below

Mini Survey – Choose your favourite Erasmus coin!
In 2022 the Erasmus programme celebrates its 35th birthday.  Are you one or do you know anyone of the millions of people who have loved the experience? Or maybe you have heard about Erasmus but not yet had a chance to take part?  They’re looking to you to choose the commemorative €2 coin to celebrate the programme. You can pick from one of the six designs below within the link. Help mark Erasmus’ place in shaping.   This survey is open, and you can cast your vote until midnight, March 31st, 2021.
https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/Erasmus35YearsEuroCoin

Some Interesting  Links…
The Good Law ProjectIt’s hard to put it better than the Commissioner for Public Appointments: “… some at the centre of government want not only to have the final say but to tilt the competition system in their favour to appoint their allies…”     This is not the Britain we should be.  https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/time-to-end-cronyism/
 
British Citizens Welcome Biden-Harris Administration defence of Truth!
Joanne Callaghan and Monica Horten, Author at Yorkshire Bylines
 
See You There – Join Us & Let us Make it Happen – Thursday 1st April at 8pm.
Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89427594607?pwd=cWhEMjhCbFBsWHJwakVuSU81VGU1Zz09
 Meeting ID: 894 2759 4607
Passcode: XZY0ns
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+442034815240,,89427594607#,,,,*062850# United Kingdom
+442039017895,,89427594607#,,,,*062850# United Kingdom
 
Dial by your location
         +44 203 481 5240 United Kingdom
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Passcode: 062850
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/k0Lwc2Z7E
 

Brexit bites for consumers

Cathy Rogers

If you have tried to buy something online from an EU country since 1 January 2021, you might have found it cost you rather more than you were expecting … thanks to Brexit! And if you’ve attempted to send a parcel to friends in an EU country, you will have experienced the joys of filling out detailed customs declarations forms, in addition to higher postage costs.

I’ve heard a myriad of such anecdotes and for many it has felt like the first tangible impact of Brexit. Here are some recent examples:

Anna: Had to pay an additional £27 for customs clearance charges on wallpaper ordered from Germany.

Rebecca: Tried to buy a plant from a gardening company in the Netherlands – they no longer export to the UK due to Brexit conditions. They used to ship over 600 varieties per shipment, which would now generate a mountain of paperwork. It is currently too costly and impractical to ship to the UK.

Dwayne: Had to pay an unexpected £20 for tax on musical equipment ordered from Germany.

Ali: Ordered some slippers from a Danish company, but the forwarder wasn’t allowed to ship parcels to the UK. The order had to be cancelled.

Josh: Had to pay £450 more than in pre-Brexit times for samples from Austria for his UK-based company. The supplier had also been obliged to fill out several additional forms.

It’s clear that Brexit is hitting your average British consumer. Johnson’s deal certainly doesn’t feel much like a ‘free trade deal’ in reality. So what choice is there for the British consumer buying from the EU? It’s either soak up the extra costs or don’t make the purchase. Brexiters might argue that this is a good thing – British consumers will turn to UK-based companies to meet their needs. But even taking that potential outcome into consideration, it’s clear that Brexit has reduced choice for ordinary British people. And it must also be recognised that any UK company relying on imports from EU countries will be adversely affected by extra red tape and higher transportation costs. And UK-based companies may start charging customers more in response to having less competition. Prices for brits will inevitably rise.

Many Brexit impacts currently feel fairly remote to the average person on the street, partly due to the overwhelming nature of the Covid pandemic. But it’s likely that most will know someone who has found themselves paying import tax on a purchase or who has faced the prospect of filling out a lengthy customs declaration form just to send a birthday present – each situation a little reminder that we have ‘Brexited’ and these are the consequences.