Michael Heseltine on bringing the pro-EU movement together

Published on May 11, 2023

On Wednesday 10th May several pro-EU groups met at Europe House for a private meeting led by the ‘Where Next for Brexit?’ group.  

Where Next for Brexit? was founded in mid-2017 by Prof Anthony Grayling (Chair), with politicians Edward McMillan-Scott (Coordinator), Andrew Adonis (Former Chair of the European Movement), Richard Corbett (Former MEP) and Henry Porter (Chair of Brexit Conventions), Eloise Todd (then CEO of Best for Britain) and other pro-EU operational individuals, organisations and politicians: its membership is over 100 and it is part of the European Parliament’s and European Movement UK’s social outreach and holds its regular meetings at Europe House or online. 

The theme for Wednesday’s meeting was the need for pro-EU groups to work more closely with one another. It is becoming clearer by the day that Brexit isn’t working; public opinion is shifting, Bregret is at all-time high and pro-European groups are responsible for shifting the dial. So, the question posed to the room by European Movement President, and keynote speaker, Michael Heseltine was how we, as members, leaders and founders of pro-European organisations, keep the momentum going and work together in the process.  

The meeting was hosted by Prof Anthony Grayling and was opened by Susanne Oberhauser, Head of the European Parliament Liaison Office. Susanne welcomed everyone to Europe House, thanked the European Movement for their commitment to reversing the calamity of Brexit, and praised Prof Anthony Grayling and Edward McMillian-Scott for their work with ‘Where Next for Brexit?’.  

Throughout the meeting, we heard from the President of the European Movement Michael Heseltine on methods for greater unity, discussing how involved he has been with the pro-European cause throughout his entire political career. Michael recently turned 90 and is starting to take a step back from politics, so this meeting was in part for him to know that the pro-EU movement is being left in safe hands. 

Next, we heard from Dominic Grieve (Former Attorney General and MP). Grieve mentioned his work with pro-EU organisations over the years and the need for a clear strategy and plan for better cohesion amongst the groups.  

We then heard from Mike Galsworthy (Chair of the European Movement UK) who spoke about the European Movement as a safe and welcoming space. Galsworthy went on to say that there is room for everyone in the European Movement; whether you believe in small steps such as rejoining Erasmus+ and Horizon, or if you believe in rejoining the single market, he welcomes everyone.  

Following on from Mike Galsworthy the room heard from David Clarke (Chair of the European Movement Scotland) and Jackie Jones (Chair of Wales for Europe) who discussed the work each of their pro-EU groups, European Movement Scotland and Wales for Europe, are doing in the nations.  

Then we heard from Tom Brufatto (Best for Britain), Oliver Knowles (Led by Donkeys) and Henry Porter (Chair of Brexit Conventions) who shared the various methods that each of their organisations are employing to keep shifting public opinion on Brexit.  

The meeting was attended by the likes of David Gauke (Former MP), Tobias Elwood (MP) and Stephen Dorrell (Former MP) who were all given a platform to speak. Elwood unsurprisingly outlined his desire to rejoin the single market, as well as how isolated he feels in his own party due to his views on the EU.  

Klajdi Selimi (President of the Young European Movement) and Joyce Quin (Vice President of the European Movement) were also given a platform to speak at the event. Klajdi discussed YEM’s work, particularly their desire to rejoin Erasmus+. Joyce chose to focus on real life examples from those in the North-East, where she represented and now lives, on the varying effects Brexit is having on their lives.  

Overall, this was both an interesting and important event attended by extremely influential people from a variety of pro-EU groups. The meeting gave food for thought for the future and will act as a basis for methods of greater unity in the future.  

 


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