One Year On From the EU Referendum: A Personal Journey

Like many others, I was convinced that Remain would win the day. I stayed up to get the result and was devastated that Leave had won. I cried myself to sleep, literally.

My dreams of buying a wreck in France to do up, seemed doubtful.  Let alone the idea of retiring to France one day.

France is close enough to East Kent, that on a clear day, it’s visible across the English Channel, from many places.

As a kid, I grew up going to France on day trips. It felt entirely normal to trundle around French supermarkets with my parents, buying soupe de poissons, Banania and Maroilles cheese – and lots of wine, of course. Having travelled all over France, it feels like home.

With a mixture of French, Irish, Welsh and English heritage, being an EU citizen brings all of those identities into one. ” I am European.” The prospect of being deprived of EU citizenship, against my will, feels abhorrent. The biggest peacetime withdrawal of citizenship ever known, would surely be a Human Rights issue.

My parents were eligible for other passports, but didn’t believe that it was necessary to apply for them and register me as a foreign birth. This also happened to my husband. It means that we have family with French, Irish and Canadian passports and other extended family members eligible for French, Irish and Portuguese passports. We are stuck with British passports, which could become second class, even in the UK.

I voted, but beyond that, I hadn’t been involved in politics at all. I had no idea how to protest against Brexit. As I discovered simple ways to do it, I shared them on my Twitter account. My husband gave me a per crowdfund monetary limit and told me to use my judgment.

I had been wanting to change my name for some time, when I came across a biography of Belgian-born French Revolutionary, Théroigne de Méricourt, online. I changed my name by deed poll, on the day that Donald Trump became President-Elect. I would never claim to be as great as she, nor a leader in the Remainer movement, but the name inspires me to fight harder, when I’m feeling down.

Brexit is built on a gerrymandered referendum which disenfranchised millions of people who would be affected by a Brexit. The Leave campaign lied and admitted it. No pro-Brexit party won a majority in the latest General Election. There have been abuses of Parliamentary democracy and it can be really depressing and frustrating to struggle against Brexit in the face of an Establishment stitch-up. Even the Opposition wants a Hard Brexit, it seems.

In December 2016, I had a discussion with my husband, because the fight against Brexit had taken over my life. He bought me a couple of domains for Christmas and paid for the website building and hosting.

RemainerAction aims to be a first step from Twitter or search engine, enabling individuals to progress from being frustrated non-political Remainer or Bregreter, to getting involved as an individual. From there, there are plenty of groups of all types and these are going up on the website as I find them.

The aim wasn’t anything more than that. But since starting RemainerAction, it has evolved.

RemainerAction has found interviewees for foreign media and tried to get the EU flag flown on Europe Day, locally. In February, we helped the Kent co-ordinator of the One Day Without Us campaign. We prepared research for interviewees on BBC radio, up against Sir Julian Brazier and Craig Mackinlay. On Europe Day, flowers were laid on the graves of notable Europeans in Kent. RemainerAction has also been working to help two twinning associations gain EACEA funding in 2018. Blog posts have gone up to try to help Remainers to save money.

RemainerAction isn’t a personal blog (this post is a rarity) nor does it rehash news. News stories go up on Twitter from news feeds daily. Being small and independent, RemainerAction is able to react to Brexit-related news, with blogposts on actions which can be taken.

As an individual, I joined European Movement UK, New Europeans, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), Liberal Democrats and local twinning association.

During the pre- election period, we had Liberal Democrat posters up and I did some phone canvassing, which is scary, even with a script !

Brexit is affecting my life already, although the UK hasn’t left the EU. My husband, concerned about possible future gridlock on Kent roads, now works in East and West Sussex.

Funding RemainerAction and contributing to crowdfunds, means a holiday this year is looking doubtful. We don’t go out to lunch or dinner now and have stopped going to the cinema.

Like many people, my husband got a payrise which was less than current inflation.

As we head into a recession, food prices are going up and beyond that, supermarkets are cutting the amount of organic food available.

To keep costs down, we have reverted to the position we used to be in, of comparing prices for everything and buying from a wider range of stores, which is time consuming.

I feel really thankful that we decided to use some savings to pay off the credit card and loan. If we hadn’t done this, we would be in a worse financial position.

RemainerAction is paid for up until December 2018 so it will keep going at least until then. I’m fully committed to fighting Brexit !


Copyright 2016 Théroigne S B G Russell






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