Working to return Britain to where it belongs – at the heart of Europe


Herefordshire for Europe

Herefordshire for Europe


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Herefordshire for Europe is a group of about 1,000 people, concerned about the damage done by Brexit and campaigning to rejoin the EU. We welcome everyone committed to a special relationship between the UK and the EU, from whatever political perspective.

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Updates from the Branch

  • Europe Day (May 9th) was celebrated by the European Movement UK last Saturday, in our case on the top of the Herefordshire Beacon or British Camp. Glorious weather to allow our flags to take the air, talk to walkers and distribute our EMUK cards “We are still European”, and even get a bit of an early suntan.

    The initial steep ascent was balanced by a more leisurely walk and gradual descent around the Beacon to the car park, where we set up our usual opinion poll and stickers next to the outdoor café. Of course, people in queues for ice-creams, burgers, drinks and doggy-treats had other things on their minds rather than answering questions about the effects of Brexit, so the results, garnered around lunch time, are not very representative.

    We were also able to add a number of Happy Birthday messages and signatures to the giant card celebrating 74 years since the Schuman Declaration (9th May 1950), whose ultimate aim was for peace and solidarity throughout Europe. Our next engagements will be on May 30th (regular H4EU meeting at De Koffie Pot, Hereford) and on Thursday, June 6th, from 7-9.00 pm, for an Our Star Debate at Hereford’s Left Bank.

    Harriet Pahl, H4EU


  • The wind died down and the skies tried to clear, as six of your H4EU activists hit the market town of Ledbury, armed with 7 new questions on a board that paid occasional homage to Halloween. It might have been the magic of the pumpkins - or that of the witches’ hat that brought the sun out and showed the date as being October 30th instead of the 28th – but no one challenged either. The blue and yellow open gazebo outside St. Katherine’s offered information about the European Movement, and activists on the other side of the High Street, squeezed between the Organic Shop and a van selling beefburgers, chatted to shoppers, encouraging them to express their opinions on 7 effects of Brexit: in the shape of dots, stars and funny faces. While the stickers guarantee anonymity on the board, many a strong opinion was voiced but will not be divulged. The magic allowed us all to keep smiling, safe and dry until we reached home, after which the rains began.

    Here then, are the questions and the answers given:

    1. ARE OUR RIVERS AS WELL PROTECTED AS WHEN WE WERE IN THE EU?

    YES:   4 %     DUNNO:  17 %          NO:  79 %   

    This morning’s Guardian reported the Government’s removal of the requirement for the annual tests of water quality we conducted as EU members, and also trashed EU-derived sewage pollution rules for housebuilders. People are very much aware of the deterioration of our rivers, and such behaviour from the Government was bound to anger them.

    2. IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TO EXPERIENCE LIVING ABROAD?

    YES: 89 %    DUNNO:    4 %           NO:  7 %

    Many responders are parents or grandparents, and more than aware of the opportunities for study and work experiences that their children will be denied. Incidentally, this morning I read of the new visa Britons will need to acquire each time they visit a different EU country, around £6 per person, per country, unless you are under 18 or over 80. Thanks, Brexit!

    3. DO OTHER COUNTRIES SEE THE UK AS A GLOBAL LEADER?

    YES: 11 %   DUNNO:  6 %              NO:  83 %

     There were a lot of comments such as “Not any more”, “Not now” “I doubt it very much”, and so on. This is what our government has done for us!

    4. DO YOU KNOW ANY RESTAURANTS OR BARS THAT ARE SHORT OF STAFF?

    YES: 71 %   DUNNO: 24 %             NO:    5 %

    Not everyone felt able to answer this one. Many don’t go out much these days as it’s too expensive. But Hereford and Ledbury venues were mentioned.

    5. IS IT EASIER FOR UK BUSINESSES TO TRADE WITH EU COUNTRIES NOW?

    YES:  0 %   DUNNO: 15 %              NO:  85 %

    A no-brainer, really, this one. Nevertheless a few people felt uncomfortable enough to put ‘Dunno’ instead of ‘No’.

    6. DOES THE UK HAVE EFFECTIVE CONTROL OF ITS BORDERS?

    YES:  4%    DUNNO:   9 %               NO:  87 %

    A lady who mainly agreed but felt that many questions were too general to be answered satisfactorily, said borders were a huge topic. What sort of borders were meant? And then there was the question of whether borders should exist at all, and wouldn’t it be better if everyone could go wherever they pleased. I personally have some sympathy with this idea, but it cannot be decided by a national government, let alone by ourselves...

    7. HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR US TO JOIN THE EU AGAIN?

    5 YEARS: 5.5%      10 YEARS: 22.5%      15 YEARS: 36%      20+ YEARS: 17%

    IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN: 19%

    The last answer (It will never happen) had not been contemplated by us, but we added it by request.

    Yet we are convinced that sooner or later British governments will have to yield, or be pressured into a union with the countries on our doorstep, whether that be the EU as it is now, or a reformed version of it. Surely those people who still cling to the insular belief that we are ‘best off if we go it alone’, and ‘who cares about experts’, will be either persuaded, or eventually superseded, by those who want more (eg. the young), those who point to national bankruptcy and those who understand that such huge problems as climate change, for instance, have to be faced at an international level, with experts from different regions and eventually all countries working together.

    Those who wish for a return of the Empire of Great Britain should remember that Empires rise and fall – we need only to think of the Egyptians, the Roman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and many others. Our time has come and gone, and the only way to remain players on the world stage is to unite with our neighbours and treat them as we would be treated ourselves, with empathy, not brinkmanship.

    Over 80% of those who spoke to us believed that Britain would rejoin at some point, the majority felt this could happen within a generation, more or less. Many of us will not see it happen, if they are right, but I am convinced that it is a necessity, and will happen, whether our current members are there to see it or not!

    Harriet Pahl           Herefordshire4EU           Ledbury, 28th October 2023


  • Herefordshire4EU/European Movement activists descended on Corn Square with survey-board, sticker dots, gazebo and all the customary pro-EU paraphernalia. We are nearing the end of this cycle of questions to the public about the effects of Brexit on Britain since leaving the EU. Roughly every month, on a Saturday morning, we meet in a central square in one of Herefordshire’s market towns to question the public on their attitudes to Brexit now - and also to the promoters of it. Do they feel they were lied to in 2016? In what ways has Brexit affected them? Was it all a terrible mistake?

    It is good to have these conversations, because on one hand people who never agreed to leave in the first place are given the chance to share their frustrations and are supplied with somewhere to turn, and on the other hand, people who voted to leave but have since begun to have doubts, are likewise welcomed. We also listen to those who wish to vent their anger at us for refusing to accept defeat and continuing to promote membership of the European Union. It is important to listen, not in order to win an intellectual battle, but to show common humanity and allow people to reach similar conclusions in their own time. This is sometimes difficult, but it’s well worth trying.

    Here are the results of our latest survey in Leominster:

    How do you feel our country is getting on... since leaving the EU?

    Cost of living         Just fine/Fair: 11.5%  Not sure: 2% Poorly/Very badly: 86.5%

    Health & Social Care                    16%                    16%                            67%

    Businesses/Farming                    11%                    17%                            72%

    The Music Industry                      20%                     34%                           46%

    The Environment                         12.5%                  10%                           77%

    Human Rights/Employment Protection    20%       10%                        70%

    What do you think?

    Would your family have a better life if we were still an EU country?     

    Yes:  72%                            Not sure:  6%                     No:  22%

    Have we been told lies about the “benefits” of Brexit?

    Yes:  85%                             Not sure:  2%                     No:  12.5%

    Should we try for a closer relationship with the EU in future?

    Yes: 86%                              Not sure:  6%                     No:  8%

     

    If you’d like to help or chat with us and place some stickers on the board, the next town on our agenda is Bromyard, probably outside the Hop Pole Hotel, on Saturday 26 August. We’d love to see you there!

    In September, we shall rewrite the questions for a new cycle. September is also the month of the National Rejoin March in London: Coaches leaving from Hereford, Ledbury, Malvern and of course many other towns across the nation on Saturday, 23/09/23. We hope you’ll join us!

    Harriet Pahl                                                                                                          01/07/2023


  • After the National Council meeting I raced off to Hereford Racecourse to hand out Pride leaflets at Hereford Pride, which ran from 12.00-18.30.

    At the after-party in the evening I was told there had been about 1,000 people there through the afternoon. There were still a hundred or more when I got there. I handed out a few dozen leaflets and had lots of interesting conversations.

    Only one group said "No thank you, we're Leavers", while another group didn't want to engage because it was about politics. "I'm a politician", he said. "National or local", I asked, knowing he wasn't either of our Conservative Herefordshire MPs. "Local", he said, "but I don't think this is the right place for politics". I didn't argue: he was entitled to a day off at a Pride event although he should expect to be confronted by politics at every turn.

    Anyway, everyone else conformed to EMUK's judgement that the LGBTQ+ community is essentially pro-EU and agreed that we needed to reverse the damage of Brexit. Many immediately scanned the QR code and had a look at the EM website.

    My main pitch was to emphasise that we wanted more members to enable us to do more, so please join. Several people expressed positive interest but I don't know whether they will actually join or not. I didn't stand over them to insist.


  • The sun shone and there was no wind to blow the gazebo around like last time in Hereford. Anyway, Mary Sinclair Powell, the Markets Officer, kindly lent us some of her weights in case of a strong gust of wind up Broad Street. Six H4EU members attended to talk to passers-by about their experience of Brexit and to encourage them both to take part in the opinion poll and to join the European Movement.

    About 53 people put their coloured dots or stars on the poll, including a number of EU visitors. There was a twinning event with 40 visitors from Betzdorf in Germany and so the Town Council was flying the German flag again. They were about to have a reception with the Mayor. There were a couple of Brexiteers - one gent actually said: "I am a Brexiteer". But the majority were angry about the lies told by government and hoped for a rapprochement with the EU (around 90%), though not all felt we would be able to rejoin. Some had property in Europe (Spain and France) to which they now couldn't retire. A few also admitted having voted to Leave and wished they hadn't now, but felt they hadn't been given the relevant information at the time.

    Some figures: on the question of how our country is getting on since Brexit, 92% said very badly or poorly on cost of living; 95% said the same about health & social care; 86% on businesses & farming; 89% on the music industry; 76% on the environment; and 88% on human rights & employment protection. 85% felt they'd have a better life if we were still an EU country, a whopping 92% were sure we'd been told lies about the benefits of Brexit, and 90% wanted a closer relationship with the EU in future.

    Attendance was around 20% higher than last time we were in Ross. People seemed more forthcoming, and less hesitant to be seen criticising the government than last time round.

    Afterwards we went for a very welcome drink at the King’s Head Hotel. The next street stall will be in Kington on Saturday 17 June from 1000-1300.


  • Richard Jones and Ian Jones - no relation - of Herefordshire for Europe went to Hereford Sixth Form College on 12 May to talk to members of the College's debating society about the European Union. Richard opened by quoting President Zelensky at a joint press conference with Ursula von der Leyen in Kyiv on Tuesday, Europe Day: “Our efforts for a united Europe, for security and peace, need to be as strong as Russia’s desire to destroy our security, our freedom, our Europe”. Last week's New European had an article about protests in Georgia against the foreign agent draft law: "The protests were so extensive that the law was withdrawn, but the threat has not gone away. Georgia is meant to be on a path to EU integration, and that would involve moving towards a more open, western-oriented political culture. But that process faces powerful resistance." Both showed the political emphasis of the European project on peace and stability: Greece, Spain and Portugal weren't allowed to join the then EEC until they had replaced their military regimes with democratically elected governments in the 1970s.

    Richard gave an account of the development of the EU, with reference to his own work on EU issues at various times in the FCO from 1978-2013. Ian added his own perspective as an economist during questions, which included the negative economic effect of Brexit; how to deal with anti-democratic tendencies in countries such as Hungary and Poland; and how the UK should position itself now.

    It was a scramble to cover all of that in 50 minutes and we could have said much more. But it was a good opener and we are invited again. We also encouraged them to join YEM.