Anti-Brexit campaign group Bremain in Spain held its annual general meeting (AGM) at the Innovation Campus on Calle Puerto in Malaga last Sunday (24 October).
On the decision to hold the meeting in Malaga, Bremain’s treasurer, Helen Johnston, who travelled from the Valencia region said, “It was largely due to transport. Everyone could get to Malaga and lots of our members live around here.” She added, “Also Malaga is very nice. Nobody is going to say no to a long weekend in Malaga.”
Around 20 members attended the meeting in person, while others joined via Zoom. Bremain Chair Sue Wilson, who was awarded an MBE for her campaigning work earlier this year, welcomed participants before other members of the council presented areas of the group’s work, including membership, fundraising and the annual report.
In her welcome speech, Sue highlighted the challenges that Covid has brought to the group over the last 18 months. Although she said that “there have been considerable limitations placed on [Bremain’s] campaign actions this year,” including protests and face to face meetings with politicians, she assured members that the Bremain council had “not been idle” in continuing to campaign for the rights of Britons living in Spain post-Brexit.
One of the actions that Bremain members took at the outbreak of COVID was to turn their attention to making sure that vulnerable or isolated Brits in Spain were supported through a buddying system and sharing up to date information from the Spanish government and British Embassy as the situation evolved. While it was felt that going forward, Bremain in Spain’s focus needed to return to defending EU-based Britons' rights, members acknowledged that Covid had impacted on all aspects of life and that the support provided by the group during a constantly evolving and unsettling period had been vital.
Bremain in Spain currently has 6,062 members and 26,000 Twitter followers. It is a member of other European groups like the European Movement, Grassroots for Europe and Make Votes Matter and holds regular meetings with the groups. It has also been heavily involved with the Votes for Life campaign led by Second World War veteran Harry Schindler, who lives in Italy and celebrated his 100th birthday earlier this year.
The campaign, which lobbied the UK parliament to drop the 15-year-rule and therefore give Britons living abroad the right to vote in UK general elections for the rest of their lives, paid off and was included in the last Queen’s Speech as a priority for the present government. The bill is currently going through the UK parliament.
Going forward, while Bremain’s ultimate goal remains rejoining the EU, the group recognises that this is a very long-term ambition and that more immediate priorities will include continuing to campaign for the rights of British citizens living in Spain, working with other groups across Europe and working more closely with EU and Spanish institutions.
All council members were voted back in and Sue Wilson remains Chair, with Lisa Burton continuing as Vice Chair.
The AGM was followed by a Q&A session and photo opportunity on the terrace of the Innovation Campus before the group went to La Plaza restaurant for lunch.