The People's Challenge
Ensuring the rule of law and the protection of people’s fundamental citizenship rights are key elements of our challenge.
They go back to the very first action we took when we initiated a challenge to the UK government’s intention to illegally use the Royal Prerogative to trigger the Article 50 notice.
The arguments we put forward in court about fundamental citizenship rights were decisive in winning that case; indeed some involved in the case have said the government would have won the case if we had not put those arguments forward.
We originally launched our current campaign in order to do two things: raise money to sustain the campaign work and relieve the financial burden on the 2-3 people who previously shouldered it, we also needed funds in order to update some of our previously-published material and re-examine the opportunities for further challenges in the light of the on-going exit negotiations.
The questions of people’s fundamental rights and the observance of the rule of law are now coming into sharp focus again.
At this time the negotiations are still extremely vague and it is still unclear who will be protected under the final agreement.
It is even less clear who should be protected by law from the fallout of a politically expedient set of negotiations.
The EU and the UK are treating EU citizenship rights as something that is only triggered by a single event: you move to a country and stay there, like transplanting a tree. We are not trees.
The reality of the situation is that EU citizenship rights are embodied in a variety of laws and regulations that enable an individual to live, study, work, retire in any of the EU member states. Exercising these citizenship rights can happen in a singular, discrete moment or they can be exercised as part of an ongoing event or events. Entitlement to these citizenship rights is in no way predicated on residing in an EU state other than your country of nationality.
It is unlikely that all EU citizenship rights can be preserved for all UK citizens; there is only one way that can be done with certainty. On the other hand it is clear that both the UK and the EU have opted for an arbitrary and simplistic scenario as a basis for the agreement on citizenship rights.
We have discussed this with our legal team led by John Halford and feel that The People’s Challenge can make a significant contribution to casting light on these issues, as indicated in previous posts.
Therefore we’ve put together an expert team to advise on who should be protected by the draft citizens’ agreement but have been left out of it, and the deficiencies in the protections being proposed for those groups covered by the draft.
We will then publish two documents – one for those groups of people who have reasonable prospects of being able to protect some or all of their EU citizenship rights through some form of legal challenge, and another document for those who have been left behind with seemingly little or no practical legal recourse.
And so now we have raised the limit for our campaign in order to fund work which will be undertaken by a team of legal experts led by John Halford.
This work affects millions of people. As well as publishing this material we will use it to inform and lobby MPs, MEPs and the members of the UK devolved assemblies on the deficiencies in the current draft agreement on protecting EU citizenship rights.
The era of governments being unaccountable for their actions is long gone and we need your help to again remind our political representatives of this.
If you care about the fundamental rights that Brexit puts in jeopardy, and the need for Parliament to safeguard them effectively, please help us to maintain our campaign and continue to stand up for you.
We need your support, please share and donate.
Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.
The issues that these campaigns are focused on are without doubt very important.
The various challenges have yet to get over the first, and very high, hurdle – will the court admit the challenge? Indeed one or more has been rejected by the courts at least once.
However, we have to prioritise the IMPORTANT and the URGENT.
If we are to neutralise or even mitigate the effects of the attack on our democracy, we need to prevent the forces of darkness pushing the UK into an uninformed Brexit – that is URGENT.
It is IMPORTANT that we prevent this happening again in the future. But if we fail to prevent the corruption of the 2016 referendum from dictating the immediate future of the UK, we will lose not just a battle but a campaign, and possibly the war.
Even more URGENT is the need to lobby our parliamentarians, persuade them to base their decisions on what is Best for the UK and support those parliamentarians who are prepared to take the position articulated by Edmund Burke in 1774:
“Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
The will of the people is what it is on the day, it is neither immutable nor unchangeable. As David Davis said in 2012: “If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.”
Nobody voted for a future that impoverished the UK and its citizens, weakened its social services, its NHS, it social cohesion, its own union of nations – far from all that, the Leave campaigns promise was that the UK would be better off outside the EU.
This is why it is URGENT that we fight the self-serving and supposedly idealogical arguments from Theresa May and others.
The Leave campaign’s economist, Patrick Minford, said that Brexit would mostly eliminate UK manufacturing and increase wage inequality. He advocated a transition of around 10 years to help industry “adjust”.
Patrick Minford told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in 2012: “It is perfectly true that if you remove protection of the sort that has been given particularly to the car industry and other manufacturing industries inside the protective wall, you will have a change in the situation facing that industry, and you are going to have to run it down.”
He echoed this in a piece in The Sun, writing: “Over time, if we left the EU, it seems likely that we would mostly eliminate manufacturing, leaving mainly industries such as design, marketing and hi-tech. But this shouldn’t scare us.”
Politicians and campaign groups must use the tools they have been provided with to prevent the self-immolation that the UK (Theresa May) seems intent on.
Once we have turned back this existential threat to what makes the UK great, we can then address the failings in the Union and the democratic system we rely on.
Some 1,500 lawyers have backed The People’s Vote campaign including some who have advised The People’s Challenge:
Sir David Edwards KCMG PC QC FRSE – Former European Court of Justice Judge and co-author of the Three Knights Opinion commissioned by The Peoples Challenge.
Helen Mountfield QC – Lead Counsel for our successful challenge to the Government’s intended use of Royal Prerogative to trigger Article 50 and a co-author of the Three Knights Opinion.
John Halford – Partner at Bindmans LLP who led our Article 50 challenge and the teams that produced The Knights Opinion and Millions in the Margins Advice.
Jolyon Maugham QC – Triggered the pre-action letter that led to The Peoples Challenge to the Government’s use of Royal Prerogative to make the Article 50 notification.
Between now and 29th March persuading our parliamentarians to take decisions based on what is Best for the UK and its people is both URGENT and IMPORTANT.
Our blog post with the various links including why lawyers such as John Halford are backing The Peoples Vote can be read here - http://thepeopleschallenge.org/2018/11/06/important-vs-urgent-vs-important-and-urgent-fighting-brexit
The French Senate is in the process of reviewing legislation giving the French government powers to legislate as required for the UK’s exit from the European Union. It highlights the differences between the deal/no-deal/post transition scenarios.
In English this means that France has finally had enough of the UK’s shenanigans and is making the necessary preparations so that it can change French law in order to mitigate Brexit.
This Projet de Loi is causing quite a stir with some people, it is being reported that UK citizens will become illegal immigrants on Brexit day…
This is not what is being said. The bill seeks to minimise the damage that the UK is insisting on inflicting not only on itself but on its citizens in the EU27 countries and more precisely France itself. Would that the UK government should adopt that same standpoint!
It concentrates on UK citizens working, living, studying in France but makes no mention of UK citizens in the UK who own property, businesses or work cross border into France.
Nor does it identify the myriad of other issues such as whether you can elect to have UK or French law apply to your will or whether there is a higher rate of capital gains tax for non-EU citizens on second homes.
Whatever it is, the bill is far from saying what will happen, it also makes it very clear that there will be reciprocity between measures taken in France and those the UK government applies to French citizens in the UK.
The French government will also be complying with applicable EU law, including the treatment of long-term-resident Third Country Nationals, and the principles of acquired rights and reasonable expectation under EU and International law.
The bill (and the associated impact analysis) addresses points where Brexit will change the way in which EU law will apply or cease to apply in France, and some of the ramifications of what a no-deal Brexit or a Brexit that does not keep the UK inside the single market/ customs union will mean.
The only respect in which it could be seen as threatening is the way in which it links treatment of UK citizens in France to treatment of French citizens in the UK. If the UK sticks to its current stance, this should not make life harder for UK citizens in France.
The bill’s purpose is to set the stage for the legislation which may be necessary for the French government to take up the slack (admittedly there’s a lot of room for interpretation in what that means).
Furthermore, it is pointed out that the social, financial, economic, administrative, equality and youth consequences will be looked into at a later date (this will presumably influence the French government’s response, as will how the UK treats French citizens).
Even with the French government’s conservative and optimistic estimations of numbers of UK citizens, living, working, studying and visiting France, huge segments of the country and the French administration would be left “in the lurch” if they all became “illegal immigrants” overnight. This is what the proposed legislation seeks to avoid.
We will not become Martians overnight, we will become third country nationals, many of whom currently live happily and successfully in France and have rights under French, EU and International law, even though those rights are less than we, as EU citizens, currently enjoy.
So all in all the French Government is considering what the problems would be in order to figure out what it should do in response. Whatever they are likely to do, we should not bite the hand that is trying to help us.
More usefully doing one or more of, getting in touch with your Maire and explaining your situation, contacting your British MP and giving them an earful, contacting one of the MEPs representing your region, supporting The People’s Challenge ( https://www.gofundme.com/thepeopleschallenge) or other groups working to protect your interests will all help.
Today’s blog piece is our first in a series presenting the work that has been done in our “Millions in the Margins” campaign.
Our legal advice is, despite the restricted brief our fund-raising covered is very long and at times difficult to grasp. In view of this we will be publishing it in segments accompanied by explanations and practical examples of the points made.
As stated above we have only begun our work, additional funds will enable us to explore many of the aspects that, while seemingly niche to some, may be of great relevance to “the man on the Clapham omnibus”.
Over 40+ years, UK citizens exercising their rights as EU citizens have generated a huge variety of personal situations in relation to home, work, study…
This variety and complexity has led to many people’s personal situations being ignored by negotiators on both sides because it’s a matter of “question too difficult”. But this is no excuse: negotiators must negotiate for all the people concerned, and politicians have no right to abandon any of their country’s citizens. Politicians work for us, not us for them, they are the ones who should bend over backwards for us, not us for them, that’s what they are payed their not inconsiderable salaries for.
As time goes on the list of topics that were going to be handled “later in the negotiations” grows longer and the list of topics for which there will simply be no time also gets longer. Eventually both of these lists will become synonymous with the exhaustive list of issues that need to be addressed, we will then have reached peak Brexit. We therefore feel that our advice will become ever more apposite as March 29th 2019 approaches.
You can find the full article with links on our blog: https://thepeopleschallenge.org/2018/09/28/the-millions-in-the-margins-introduction-and-summary/
You can find the full article with links on our blog: https://thepeopleschallenge.org/2018/09/18/why-dont-people-understand-what-eu-citizenship-rights-are/
Ex-CBI chief lambasts EU leaders and UK over citizens' rights
Paul Drechsler says politicians should be ashamed that citizens’ rights in UK and Europe have not been guaranteed.
Paul Drechsler makes a good point, but it is clear that he does not understand what EU citizenship rights actually are.
EU citizenship rights are not just the limited right to reside, work and study that the EU and UK negotiators have distilled them down to for their convenience. Even then the rights that the EU & UK propose to “grant” are surrounded with caveats and are often less than non-EU citizens who are resident in the EU are entitled to.
So much for the EU’s promises to preserve the rights of people who have made life-changing decisions based on their EU citizenship rights. Note “preserve”: that should mean that they won’t change.
EU citizenship confers a broad and complex set of rights that we currently hold as EU citizens. You do not have to be living, working or studying in another EU country to be exercising those rights, either:
You might simply have a business, perhaps one that you operate personally from your home in the UK using Ebay or Amazon, which trades across the EU.
You may have purchased a property in a EU27 country so as to be able to retire there and exchange the high cost of living in the UK for a lower cost of living in a EU27 country with a climate that is kinder to people in their later years.
Perhaps you own a business in a EU27 country even though you still reside in the UK.
Or you may simply go on holiday in an EU27 country where you hire a car using your UK(EU) driving licence and rely on the protection of your European Health Insurance Card while you are there.
None of these rights are protected in the draft Withdrawal Agreement!
The scale of this attack on our citizenship rights is becoming clearer, and even if a withdrawal deal and a transition period are agreed, it may well only defer the day when these rights are finally lost, when Theresa May’s self-imposed red-lines result in the UK sitting outside the EU without a deal - let alone one that is even close to being as beneficial as the UK’s current membership of the EU.
We have another government minister, this time Michael Gove, seeking (deliberately?) to undermine the UK’s integrity and trustworthiness by insisting that a deal could always be undone at a later date. If the deal is undone by the Prime Minister, as Michael Gove suggests, then what happens to the few, if any, rights preserved under an exit deal?
On Monday we had Theresa May spelling out that it’s “her way or no-way” 'Chequers or no deal' warning angers Tory right a position which angers people all across the political spectrum just as her “Chequers” deal does. And this is a person who serves a democratic country ruled by a sovereign parliament.
All of this, and the evidence of the social and economic damage that is already being caused in the UK, and the clear indicators of how much worse it will be after we have left the EU, is driving the increasing demand for a vote by the people on the deal that Theresa May finally agrees (or fails to agree).
At their party conference the Lib-Dems have taken a strong position that remaining in the EU has to be one of the options once we know what deal has (or has not) been struck by Theresa May. But even they do not recognise that our EU citizenship rights are not covered by the so-called protections in the draft Withdrawal Agreement.
All eyes now turn to activists and politicians in the other parties to see whether they have the courage to press for a sensible decision on what is Best for the UK.
This is not to override what weak politicians call the “will of the people”: this is to ask the people whether their will is still the same, now that we are so much better informed about the consequences of leaving the EU.
That question is not something a democracy, its parliament, government or opposition of the day should be frightened of, unless political self-interest is more important than what is Best for the UK.
Unless the interests of the people are not one of the priorities that politicians are concerned about?
It is simply asking what the will of the people is at the end of 2018 and whether it is the same as it was in mid-2016.
As David Davis said in 2012: “If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.”
EU Citizenship is additional and does not replace National Citizenship and all UK citizens currently have this as a matter of right. It is unprecedented in the modern era for a Government to remove these rights and they are important as apart from access to the continent we call home, they guarantee democratic rights, health and social care and the ability to live anywhere we want within the EU. 48:52 in a faulty referendum does not under any circumstances represent a justification to tamper with our EU rights and they should be fully protected.
This is what I need, I feel so helpless despite being in regular contact with my MP. I hate the fact that my dreams of wanting to continue a worry free life in Greece could be ruined by the bunch of stupid morons, May, Davis et al, who cannot see the cack handed mess they are making of their negotiations with their EU counterparts which look certain to create a total mess of the UK economy! #STOPBREXIT
Well done Grahame. Your perseverance and energy is inspiring. Keith Kennaugh: the answer to your comment, I am sure and make to save Grahame the need to respond, is that (i) such costs as were awarded would have gone back into the fighting fund (ii) you never/rarely get full costs in any case and (iii) as an Interested Party (as in Miller) getting anything close to your actual costs is extremely rare - even if your role/participation in proceedings was helpful and important.
On a more general note: as a barrister (with some EU practice including working/living previously Brussels) who has followed the role of this organisation I wholeheartedly support it. It has a particular role in facilitating public action and knowledge - plenty of us at the Bar (including those mentioned/acting for the fund) are doing work behind the scenes (or occasionally in court of course) to seek to shed light on the issues arising (including briefing papers to both Houses of Parliament). But spreading the knowledge to the public is not our expertise.
I've contacted my MP & MEP's asking what they are doing to represent my views as an EU Citizen & the rights I will lose. Most ignore the question in typical politician fashion, one response was understanding but reflected their lack of power to change anything. 2nd ref is only way to unite the country.
You claim an impressive track record is of winning these cases already: were you not awarded costs which ought to go back into fighting the next case?
The recent Electoral Commission report on the overspending of the 'Vote Leave' campaign found that the campaign had broken electoral law but stopped short of declaring the referendum invalid. This is apparently because the referendum was 'advisory' even though UK politicians on all sides have consistently acted as if it was binding. Is this an area where the validity of the referendum might be challenged in court?
Excellent news this lunacy must be stopped by any legally available means
Thank you for the update Graeme, much appreciate being made aware of the more complex issues of protecting our EU citizenship rights!
To keep the .eu on my website IF we Brexit, I would have to create a company within the EU and transfer ownership f the domain to that, according to longstanding EURid rules. .eu isn't as readily available as .com or .co.uk as it is and not all the big domain sellers sell it. even if they do, they won't sell to anyone without connection eg citizenship or registered company. There are 340,000 people/businesses in UK using .eu
Grand work everyone!! And thank you Grahame, very well done I am very grateful for one!
Graeme, without wishing to undermine your sterling efforts, are you not duplicating the Dutch court case, reported last week, concerning the British group that have had their case passed to the ECJ asking for it to confirm that as British nationals living in an EU country they automatically retain their EU citizenship even if, as in this case, there is the possibility that the UK crashes out of the EU?
Thank you for this update Grahame - I greatly value the energy and enthusiasm you are putting into this and am happy to continue to support it #FBP #StopBrexit