British campaigners living in the European Union promised they will continue the fight for citizens rights post-Brexit upon appearing in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
The immigrants became Members of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBEs) and Officers of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBEs) for services to British nationals in Spain and the European Union.
Sue Wilson, Bremain in Spain chair, told The London Economic the MBE has left her surprised: “The last few days has been a whirlwind of emotions. I never expected to be honoured, or even recognised, for my activism – least of all by the government I have been so critical of.
“This accolade could be a full stop – a suitable punctuation mark – on an exhausting, often painful and frustrating, yet amazing five-year experience fighting for a better, more European future.
Keep up the fight
“But I am far from ready to give up this fight. There is still so much work to be done and Brexit and this government still have the power to drive me to action.”
She added: “Once the dust has settled, I can’t see my gong making any difference to how I work or to my objectives. I’ve no idea if it will affect how I’m perceived, or treated, by politicians, but I hope it will allow my voice to be heard and listened to, perhaps in new places.
“More importantly, I hope that the voices of Britons across Europe will be taken more seriously. We have lost so much that we valued. We must never stop fighting to reclaim it, if not for our own sakes, then for the sakes of our children, our grandchildren and our country.”
2/ For 5 years Sue has worked relentlessly campaigning for the rights of Brits in Spain, her previous fight against Brexit, and continuing to ensure the govt uphold their promises. We could not be happier that she has been honoured in this way.— BremainInSpain (@BremainInSpain) June 11, 2021
Sue, you are awesome! @ukinspain
Debbie Williams, founder of Brexpats – Hear Our Voice said she has felt “a bit overwhelmed” and thankful for all the messages she has been inundated with upon becoming an MBE.
Award ‘can’t make up for Brexit pain’
Williams said both her and Wilson “would rather not have Brexit at all”. She said they did not campaign in order to obtain awards, but she is hopeful the MBE will make a difference for citizens’ rights.
Speaking to North East Bylines, she said: “I am very clear about one thing though: countless people have suffered because of Brexit and no awards will make up for that. I hope this is one step in the right direction to making everyone count.”
She added: “Rights have been lost. Our achievements pale into insignificance compared with what has been lost. I would like to expand the network we have created to include all British citizens who are committed to a positive debate on migration, and the protection of all rights. Somehow, we need to pave the way for the future of people mobility.”
3/ More congratulations due. Not only did our Chair @Suewilson91 receive an MBE today but so did her, & Bremain friend, Debbie Williams from @BrexpatsHOV, Debbie, we are absolutely delighted for you. Thank you so much for all you have done, on all our behalf’s. Two amazing women pic.twitter.com/YmpZwaSvko— BremainInSpain (@BremainInSpain) June 11, 2021
Recognition is ‘important’
Jane Golding and Fiona Godfrey, co-chairs of British in Europe, have both been awarded OBEs.
They said the nomination came primarily from UK nationals in Europe, whose rights they have been fighting for since 2017.
And they said campaigns such as Harry Schindler’s Votes for Life have shown “how important UK recognition is” when campaigning for rights.
Schindler has also been awarded an OBE for his “tireless” fight for Brits’ rights abroad and for restoring their right to vote in UK general elections after living abroad for over 15 years.
In a statement, Golding and Godfrey said they accept the honours on behalf of their committee and group members: “They have gone far beyond the call of duty in giving so much of their own time and energy to help other British citizens who did not have a political voice during and post the UK Brexit referendum.”
Michael Harris of Eurocitizens has also received an MBE.
In Limbo, EU citizens rights campaigning group in the UK, expressed joy towards the news that Brexpats have received recognition for their work. “This is such an encouragement to keep fighting the good fight which is still ongoing,” the group said.
In Limbo campaigner Cosi Doerfel Hill said: “This government has thrown our twins – Brits in EU – under the bus, but Sue Wilson and Debbie Williams are amazing advocates who fight back! Great to see them get MBEs.
“Maybe our plight for citizens rights is not completely forgotten.”
How incredible!— Cosi Doerfel Hill #InLimbo #TimesUp #MeToo #FBPE (@CosiDoerfel) June 12, 2021
This govt has thrown our twins -Brits in EU- under the bus,but @Suewilson91 from @BremainInSpain& Debbie Williams from @BrexpatsHOV are amazing advocates who fight back!
Great to see them get MBEs. Maybe our plight for citizens rights is not completely forgotten https://t.co/3LhUtaIwEj
We are so happy to see that our friends @Suewilson91 and Debbie Williams from @BrexpatsHOV both have received an MBE!— In Limbo (@InLimboBrexit) June 12, 2021
You ladies have 100% deserved this honour and we are so proud of you.
This is such an encouragement to keep fighting the good fight which is still ongoing🏅💪🏼 https://t.co/eOh3wNZhNY