the3million’s update on the #DeniedMyVote crowdfunder, a disappointing new Prime Minister and the latest news from Brussels.

First published in July 2019.

On Friday night, we hit the £65K target for our crowdfunder for the #DeniedMyVote legal challenge, meaning we are in a position to instruct our lawyers to issue the judicial review claim.

#DeniedMyVote was unlawful and the responsibility clearly lies with the Government in preventing hundreds of thousands of EU citizens from voting in the last election and we won’t let them get away with it.

Detailed updates are posted on the CrowdJustice page, including a new target to cover the estimated cost of the full hearing once permission is granted, so make sure you add your name to the legal challenge if you haven’t done so yet.

Disappointing new PM.

Talking of the Government, there is another Prime Minister at Number 10, yet it’s the same old story of disappointment and lack of clear direction towards a solution to fully protect our existing citizens’ rights.

Back in June 2016, the leading Leave campaigners Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and Michael Gove declared, “There will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully resident in the UK. These EU citizens will automatically be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK and will be treated no less favourably than they are at present.”

Now in power, we expected Boris Johnson to honour his promise and break away from the negative strategy of using EU citizens in the UK and Brits in Europe as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations. We were even encouraged by our friend Alberto Costa MP who met the newly appointed Prime Minister on Thursday morning and seemed convinced to have secured his support for laying primary legislation to secure our rights in case of no-deal.

Unfortunately, nothing really happened. Boris must have found one of Theresa May’s old speeches from 2016 and merely said he would guarantee our rights, no need to legislate, and once again didn’t even mention our British friends in Europe.

Another damp squib on citizens’ rights by another Prime Minister, and very sadly we are still the bargaining chips of the Brexit negotiations.

Meetings in Brussels.

Which is why the3million and British in Europe continue to pile the pressure on politicians on all sides of the Channel, and went to Brussel twice in the last seven days.

On 19 July, a British cross-party delegation of MPs and Lords led by Alberto Costa met with the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels.

The focus of the meeting was on ring-fencing citizens’ rights under the Article 50 procedure. Both the3million and British in Europe were invited to speak on behalf of those citizens, and Dimitri Scarlato represented the3million.

the3million and British in Europe campaigners meeting Michel Barnier in Brussels. / the3million

Michel Barnier acknowledged the reasons why both we and British in Europe believe that ring-fencing is the best solution for the citizens, noted the uncertainty we are living in and welcomed all the contributions from the delegation. He made us aware though that the EU still believes in the deal and that they were waiting to meet the new British PM to restart the negotiations, and take it from there.

Dimitri Scarlato and Monique Hawkins also had two intense days of meetings this week in Brussels, at the European Parliament and at the European Commission, with the No-Deal task force. They met with delegations of British MEPs across different parties including Labour, Lib Dems and Greens.

the3million and British in Europe campaigners meeting with MEPs in Brussels. / the3million

They also had meetings with the key figures of the European Parliament Brexit Steering Group and the main parliamentary groups. They have left no stone unturned, advocating for ring-fencing, and explaining that if there is no deal, the best set of comprehensive rights in the Withdrawal Agreement will be lost in 28 individual legislations. They made legal, political and moral arguments. They will probably be back in the Autumn and we can guarantee that we will not stop fighting for our rights until the very end.

Immigration Exemption Challenge.

This week, we were also in court with the Open Rights Group. Our legal challenge to the UK Government’s immigration exemption for data protection rights was heard at the High Court in London on Tuesday and Wednesday.

We are challenging the exemption as unlawful and discriminatory. It suppresses the very rights that the latest data privacy (GDPR) legislation was meant to protect and removes people’s right to data at the time when they need it most: when they have to prove their right to stay in the UK.

We have already won a victory during the case, forcing the government to admit that the controversial GDPR opt-out has been used to deny people access to their data in 60% of its immigration-related data requests since the beginning of 2019. It was further revealed that people are not informed when the immigration exemption is applied to their case. Shocking stuff really!

We understand that the government will now have to tell people when the exemption is applied, and give reasons for not disclosing information to them.

The number of times this exemption has been used confirms the fears we had when we brought the case forward. This vague exemption provides a wide-open opportunity for the Home Office to restrict access to data and avoid accountability for the mistakes it is regularly found to make.

We are now waiting for a decision on the case, which will probably come in October. Thanks to everyone who backed the challenge and who joined us at the hearing.

While most of us will take a break in August, we will continue to keep you posted on Twitter and on our Facebook page. So, watch these spaces.🔷

PS: We have a little summer project for you... During the referendum campaign Mr Johnson, Ms Patel and Mr Gove promised EU citizens: No change & Automatic right to stay. Now that they are in power, it is time to remind them with one simple postcard:

Simply print, cut out and send it. [enlarge here]


Did you know the3million is the leading non-profit organisation of EU citizens in the UK? We are grateful of your support, as we simply could not have campaigned for citizens’ rights over the last 24 months without you. If you can afford it, please become a paying supporter today to allow the campaign to continue for the next 24 months and beyond if necessary.

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[This piece was originally published on the3million newsletter and re-published in PMP Magazine on 28 July 2019. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/Number 10. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson. | 26 July 2019. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)