EUSupergirl Grazia Portrait (Translation)

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Anti-Brexit Supergirl

Britains and Europeans are searching for an agreement and Theresa May’s government is torn on the subject. On the other side, the opponents to Brexit campaign with inventiveness – they even have a mascot – the activist Madeleina Kay.
 
That day in the cold rain of London, she wasn’t wearing her “EUsupergirl” outfit. For this protest in support of the NHS, Madeleina Kay, 23 years-old, is marching in another costume; a blue striped dress in the style of a nurse. But this Leicester-born girl, still sports her favourite symbols. The flags of the UK and the EU are stitched to her apron, connected by a heart. The message on her placard is clear; “Your Choice: Brexit or the NHS, You Can’t Have Both”. Because of Brexit the number of EU nurses coming to the UK has fallen rapidly and the effect is being felt in the hospitals. “I belong to a generation that is apathetic to the political debate.” Recalled the blonde-haired activist. “We feel like we have been cheated by all the politicians.” Before the EU referendum she was not politically active, she voted Green and quietly studied Landscape Architecture. On the 24th June 2016 she felt lost, “I voted to Remain. I was shocked by the result.” Without hesitation, the daughter of university teachers, wrote a protest song and shared it on social media. Soon after, the Liberal Democrat party organised an anti-Brexit protest in Sheffield City Centre, where she performed her song. Nowadays, her campaign to Stop brexit takes up all of her time. When we meet her in the procession of the NHS march on 3rd Februrary, she was about to participate in the launch of a new political party, before going to Bath the following day to sing at another pro-EU protest – this time wearing her EUSuperGirl outfit. Madeleina loves wearing costumes. She also dresses as an anti-Brexit Pirate “Captain Saboteur”, a nurse… And has even been a Royal Mail postwoman after he collect 1000 letters last year from Remain campaigners, with messages given to the European parliament at Christmas. A few months before, in Brussels, dressed as EUSupergirl and in full view of the press cameras, she was thrown out of a post-Brexit negotiations press conference given by David Davis and Michel Barnier.
 
Hyperactive, the young ativist also writes and illustrates books. She sent her Satirical parody of Alice in Wonderland, “Theresa Maybe in Brexitland” to all the MPs who voted against triggering Article 50. Another work, “Alba White Wolf’s Adventures in Europe” features her immaculate Wolf-dog as the central character, in an adventure around all the EU countries. “A way of showing that the European Union reinforces the diversity and unique identity of all each member state.” In need of funding for her campaigns, her books have been published through crowdfunding. Her travel to protest across the UK are funded, in the most part by Pro EU organisations.

 

“The European Union is not perfect but much better than Brexit”

 
But what is it that motivates this European Supergirl? She has visited only 4 European countries, but believes passionately in the misdeeds of Brexit. “My generation did not vote to Leave the EU. I speak for them and the opportunities that are being taken away from us. There will be negative impacts on the economy and the environment.” The young woman has already seen the consequences of Brexit in her home city of Sheffield: The Grey to Green Scheme, an urban greening project in the city centre risks being stopped. “We were told that they don’t know where the rest of the funding is going to come from.” She continues, “The European Union needs to work on how it engages with its citizens, it’s true. The European Union might not be perfect but it is much better than Brexit.” But not everyone in the Uk shares her views. The young artist has written enough protest songs for an album, but she can’t go on tour,”In certain venues I risk being heckled.” She jokes. On the internet, the activist knows how to use the trolls to her advantage: “Sometimes I ignore them, but that’s no fun. Either I reply to annoy them, or I retweet their message with a humorous comment.” This method allowed her song “All I Want For Christmas is EU” to reach 60K views. With her child-like face, her piercings and her colourful outfits, Madeleina Kay has become a mascot. “Sometimes I am worried out being seen as a gimmick” She admits. But this does not stop her from tying to spread her message: “I have a message for Michel Barnier. Leave the door to the European Union open, my generation will bring us back!”

Reality TV Stars Should Keep Out of Politics

 

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Tory Party Activist and Reality TV Star Georgia Toffolo

The Conservative Party have got a serious problem with their party support and membership – the lack of young people. A generation has been blighted by absurd university tuition fees and student debt, with little hope of ever owning their own home and poorer life prospects than their parents, combined with growing inequality in the UK, with the rich getting richer and the working classes increasingly worse off, increased use of food banks, cruel benefits cuts and harsh austerity imposed for nearly a decade: it’s no wonder the Tory party have lost the youth vote.

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For the young people who aren’t now completely apathetic to politics, blocking out and muting political coverage and news reports, anaesthetised to the impending Brexit apocalypse – their unlikely saviour is “JC” or “Jezza” the far-left socialist rebel and Grandad figure (although, ironically some 55% of them believe he is Pro-EU). He was bought to the Labour leadership thanks to a narrow faction of the party and their Momentum campaign. In contrast, the Conservatives have “Moggmentum”, a campaign to catapult their hero, ultra right-wing, eurosceptic, anti-gay rights, “abortion is a sin”, Jacob Rees-Mogg to the premiership. (Lord help us all if they succeed). The Liberal Democrats of course have the 74-year-old Vince Cable, no spring chicken himself.

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JC Cooks Dinner for his Hungry Young Diciples

One thing that is consistently missing from the political debate, and political activism, is young people (unless it is a rare march for free education, then they turn out in their droves). Nonetheless, the Labour party has the upper hand of the main three, courting the most favour with the youth, after Jeremy Corbyn was backed by numerous pop culture figures and gave a rousing speech at Glastonbury music festival. The Conservative’s rather lack-lustre reaction s was to organise a “Conservative Ideas Festival”, a one-day event held in September at a “secret rural location” (presumably to keep the plebs out and prevent a Corynista style protest). Nonetheless, the Conservatives have a huge problem with their demographics…

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Apparently the Tory party’s solution to these concerning statistics is a youth engagement strategy that involves recruiting a reality TV star… Because there clearly aren’t enough reality TV stars cocking up world politics at the moment.

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The Conservatives have apparently met with Georgia Toffolo or “Toff”, a 23-year-old reality TV star, made famous on the show ‘Made in Chelsea’ and more recently being crowned “Queen of the Jungle” on ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!’.

“I sort of just fell into it. It’s like the perfect job. Well, it’s not really a job, but just me hanging out with my friends.” – Georgia Toffolo

Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 20.51.51.pngNow if the Conservatives are trying to appeal to the left-wing, Pro-Corbyn, Pro-European youth to win votes back from Labour, Lib-Dems and the Greens, they may have missed a trick. Georgia Toffolo may have 1.8million followers on Instagram thanks to her TV appearances, but it doesn’t take a lot of research to discover that “Toff” comes from a background of quite exceptional privilege: £23, 000 per year private school education and the West London town house that allowed her to be cast in ‘Made in Chelsea’.

“I left school and went straight into Made In Chelsea – I’ve never had any challenge.” – Georgia Toffolo

I highly doubt she has ever worked a day in her life as a cleaner making beds and scrubbing toilets, or as a cook preparing meals for hundreds at the Youth Hostel, or as bar staff working into the small hours of the morning and having to deal with drunken punters before they can make their sorry way home to stumble exhausted into a student style squat. She clearly has zero comprehension of the struggles that the majority of the young British generations face, having gone straight from private boarding school to reality TV. The idea that she should be the face of a political youth movement is foolish at best and dangerous at worst.

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Georgia Toffolo claims that “I want everyone to work to be equal!” and she votes Conservative on Welfare politics because, “It angers me, I watch television programmes, and you see people that are sat there that, you know, are clever, you know can go and work, and choose not to, they choose to go and sign on. It angers me.” Whilst she herself apparently pays her rent with her Instagram account…

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I was recently criticised for posting on Facebook, describing Gerorgia Toffolo as a “Vacuous, reality TV, celebrity, Bimbo”. But I still can’t think of a more accurate description. Thankfully many of my followers jumped to my defence, agreeing that she had indeed, created a career out of cultivating this image.

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I hope that the Conservatives are utterly mistaken in their belief that Georgia Toffolo’s endorsement will bring the youth vote to their party in swathes, because I believe that Britain’s young people are intelligent enough to see “Toff” for what she is – an over privileged, upper class, elitist white woman with no sense of her own good fortune in life. And certainly no sense of what it means to live with inequality, discrimination or disability. However, she clearly has a significant influence through her social media following, how else could she “pay her rent” through commercial endorsement. And despite having any experience or knowledge in politics, her opinions may well have an impact in favour of the Tory party. Although, hopefully her impact will be negligible, as i’m not sure how anyone who considers Jacob Rees-Mogg to be “a sex god” can be taken seriously.

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My advice: Keep Reality TV Stars who have no experience and little knowledge of politics and no sense of what it means to live as a “normal” person in society, out of the political debate.

Pro-EU Youth Instagram Strategy

We have spent the last year and a half building up Remain networks on Facebook and twitter and have realised great achievements through the supportive community that has developed. The social media infrastructure has allowed us not only to share breaking digital content, but to promote crowdfunders and campaign initiatives, to organise events and pool resources for different projects. I have been amazed by the number of people willing to volunteer their skills and services for remain; graphic designers, scientists, researchers, web designers, van drivers, textiles designers, animators, musicians, comedians, illustrators… the list goes on. But one thing that is markedly absent from all our campaigning is young people. At 23, I am one of very few young remain campaigners. So how do we get them engaged?

 

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Young Pro-EU Activists attending a Brexit Conference on a trip to Manchester Xmas Markets (Note this group of youths were from countries across Europe and only one member was British)

Well, a brief conversation with my super cool, but rather shy, 14 year old sister, drew to my attention the fact that she and her friends don’t use Facebook and Twitter. They use Instagram and Snapchat.

A quick spot check of Instagram shows the Remain presence is woeful. There are 3, 339 post using the #StopBrexit hashtag whereas there are 443, 589 using the #Brexit hashtag. (Those using the latter hashtag are not all necessarily pro-Brexit, but just to demonstrate the lack of the pro-EU message in comparison). Furthermore, most of the StopBrexit accounts have 1 or 2 posts, if any; as though people posted a couple of times at a demonstration then gave up because the influence was negligible. But as with everything, it takes time and sustained effort to achieve good results.

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So my initial thought was that if we want to increase youth participation then we need to shift our efforts to Instagram, an image based platform that lends itself well to highly visual #Stopbrexit messaging. But then someone pointed out something I think we should all bear in mind… The reason why “the Youth” don’t like using Facebook and Twitter, may be, because they are too highly politicised platforms. Most of what you see is Remainers and Leavers throwing biased News articles and politicised facts around effectively biting lumps out of each other. If you scroll through your Instagram feed, it is a very “happy-go-lucky” platform filled with smiling faces, cute animals, radiant landscapes and vegan dinners. It’s a cultural platform young people use to share and celebrate their lives, and getting involved in some political spat would be “tres uncool”. It’s no wonder the #StopBrexit posts have such little engagement.

With this in mind, if we are to instigate a “Youth Instagram Strategy” then we need to be a bit more careful about our approach than our typical guns-ablazing, EU-flags-abound, #StopBrexit-(in-mile-high-illuminated-lettering)-or-your-children-will-starve style approach. Instagram is designed to be an app for “mobile devices”, ie. they go out of their way to prevent you from posting from PC/Mac devices. (I have managed to circumvent this through Spoof Agent hosting on my web browser) But there are apps you can “supposedly” download for PC/Mac to upload images to Instagram such as Gramblr, Flume and Uplet, however I have not managed to get any of these to work consistently. You can still “like” and “comment” on images from your PC/Mac so even if you aren’t uploading you can help share other campaigner’s content through engagement and also by following other Pro-EU accounts.

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Uploading from mobile devices and tablets, however, seems relatively easy and lends itself to the style of Instagram posts we should be aiming for… NOT computer designed graphics, but real time photos, a little snapshot of your life. This is perfect for demonstrations and protest events, so we need to make sure we are sharing photos with the correct hashtags and tagging users who were there. We can also post photos of things like the “BolloxtoBrexit” stickers currently plastered across the streets of London, or the “The British People have been Conned” stickers I have seen in Manchester. These are great, not only do they have an impact in real life, for everyone that sees the message as they walk by, but we can amplify their impact through social media by using relevant hashtags. Other things that seem to work well on Instagram are the “Wooferedum” campaign which has pictures of dogs with a #StopBrexit placard demanding a “wooferendum”. Dogs photos are always a big hit on Instagram. Likewise I feel we need a “Whiskerendum” for cats. I also like the photos where people have written “Stop Brexit” into the snow on car windscreens or in chalk on the pavement. So the campaign can be subtle, but impactful, keeping with the Instagram style of sharing a “little moment of your life”. Selfies are always a good bet too.

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So I would encourage all committed remain campaigners to make an Instagram account, or if you already have, start using it more vociferously. Even if you don’t post much content engaging with other campaigner’s content will help to boost exposure. Check the #StopBrexit #Brexit #EU etc. hashtags and like/comment on all the posts that are on message. We want these posts to start popping up in Young people’s Instagram feeds so that it is on their radar, and hopefully they will be inspired to interact and post too.

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Young people hugely value their European identity, they are angry and upset that Brexit is taking it away from them, however most of them don’t believe there is anything they can do about it. So they are accepting it or ignoring it. We need to empower them to speak out for what they believe in. I have started using the hashtag #LoveEurope alongside the #StopBrexit hashtag to try and encourage people to celebrate their European identity, which #Brexit is undoubtedly threatening to take from them.

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“The Rebel Who Wants to Prevent Brexit” – Paris Match Article (with English Translation)

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Here is my Interview in the Christmas edition of Paris Match, from my last trip to Brussels for the Letters2Europe Project.
Sadly my experience talking to Europeans whilst I was there is that they don’t think Brexit is reversible and they feel that Britain has rejected them… I hope this article goes some way to countering those views.
So, this is my attempt at a translation…

“The Rebel who wants to prevent Brexit.

At 23 years old, the British Madeleina Kay has only one idea in her head: To stop Brexit. The referendum on 23rd June 2016 in favour of Britain leaving the European Union has turned her life upside-down. Then studying Landscape Architecture, the young woman from Sheffield ditched it all to become a militant pro-European. Persuaded by the benefits of membership of the European “club”, she attempts to convince even the most sceptical that the future is to remain fully one of the 28.
Spokes-woman for all who think they have been lied to by British politicans, Madeleina Kay is causing a sensation.” Madeleina Kay and her dog Alba in the Parc Cinquintenaire in Brussels: “I came to distribute letters from British people explaining their love for the European Union and why they want to Remain.”

“Why would it not be possible to be British and European?” By Celine Schoen.

 
Paris Match: A majority of British people voted in favour of Brexit. Shouldn’t the will of the people be respected and implemented?
Madeleina Kay: The Campaign before the referendum was based on nothing but lies. The electorate have been conned. They were made to think that the EU was responsible for inequalities in the UK, but it’s false. All the arguments in favour of Brexit, can be swept aside, compared to the economic, political social and environmental reasons to Remain. For the UK, leaving the European Union is national suicide. Seen as self-destruction. The irony is that areas of the UK, such as Wales and the North-East, who voted massively in favour of Brexit, are those very regions who received the most funding from the EU and will therefore be the most negatively impacted by the exit. But they believed that by turning against the EU they would be helping themselves…
Don’t all the debates about Brexit centre around the question of identity?
It is effectively central. I am often told that I must hate my country. But that is not the case, since we have voted to leave a Union that seemed to me so beneficial. What is important to understand is that the EU does not destroy national identities. The nationalists present the EU like it is a predatory, external institution, that takes away our rights. The language used by the media in the UK to report on Brexit is a huge part of the problem. It is presented as a battle between the UK and the EU, but their view is false: Why is it not possible to be both British and European?
What will Britain lose from Brexit?
The benefits of membership of the EU are enormous. Firstly, we often forget, that it is thanks to the EU that the continent is peaceful. I think it is important to remind people. Then there is the Single Market, the Customs Union, the ERASMUS programme, which the UK will no longer be able to access after Brexit. But there is plethora of other reasons to remain in the European Union: the European Arrest Warrant, consumer rights protections, research funding, protected food status, which we do not think of immediately but which aren’t trivial.
If the EU provides so many benefits why does it fail to appeal?
The problem is easy to see: the EU doesn’t talk to its citizens. It’s kept inside these huge, grey institutions, who are inaccessible, and filled with men in miserable suits who never smile. Their communication is pitiful. That’s what I blame, their lack of creativity. The EU must make efforts to show the good work that it does; As a catalyst for energy, a source of inspiration, a motor of dynamism and co-operation.
You use your creativity for the European Union. What are your talents?
Through my books and my songs, I try to change minds. All of my work is not related to Brexit, for example: “Go Back to Where You Came From!” Is a children’s book about the refugee crisis. I wrote it to draw attention to the plight of people forced to flee their country against their will: The intention was to teach compassion and tolerance. My next book was “Theresa Maybe in Brexitland” a satirical short story for adults about British politics after the referendum. This book is a parody of Lewis Carol’s masterpiece “Alice in Wonderland”. The publication of my books has been possible thanks to crowdfunding campaigns. I also sing and play the guitar. Most of my songs are about Brexit. Becoming an activist helped me to find my identity and to gain confidence. You have to be confident to perform pro-EU songs in front of hundreds of people.
In one of your children’s books, your dog Alba is the main character. She visits every country in the EU, why?
“Alba White Wolf Goes To Europe” is a book for European children, which celebrates the diversity of the cultures of the EU member states. I drew my dog Alba in 28 iconic European scenes, at the Parthenon in Athens, at the heart of Budapest, and passing le Mont St.Michel in France. Bringing Alba to Brussels allowed us to show the implications of Brexit on people’s daily lives. For example, Brexit will mean the end of the EU Pet Passport which allows dogs and cats (and ferrets) to travel in the EU if they have been vaccinated. So Alba is also here today to stand up for her rights!
To attract attention you wear two cosutmes: an EU super girl and a Pirate Brexit saboteur. Which do you wear most?
It’s difficult to say. They are both my identities, I like them both. Britain clearly needs a superhero to save it from Brexit. My “EU super girl” costume serves that purpose. As for the pirate, it’s for sabotaging Brexit. These costumes are designed to get attention, to inspire people and to try to change people’s minds. There are lots of anti-Brexit activists but I am “militant pro EU”.
 
The European Politician Guy Verhofstadt met you at the European Parliament. What did you talk about?
Yes, I was so pleased to meet him. He took two handfuls of letters written by British citizens and promised to reply on Twitter. Guy Verhofstadt is an interesting person. In his office at the parliament he had a brilliant fridge with the union jack print. Unlike Michel Barnier who is involved with all the issues relating to Brexit, Guy Verhofstadt is concentrating on the issue of citizen’s rights. The three elements which have comprised the first phase of the negotiations, seem to me to be the most important. It’s right that we must assure the EU Citizens living in the UK and the UK citizens living in the EU that their rights will be protected after Brexit. The two other issue are the Divorce Bill and the Irish Border.
Do you think the Future of the EU is Safe?
Brexit has shaken the foundations of the EU. It’s the first time a member state has tried to leave the club. This symbolic event is as strong as it is dramatic. But the EU has the intelligence to gather support rather than falling apart. And Justly, the EU has never had more need to be united, in the face of Brexit, but also against Trump, Putin, Erdogan, and the threats they pose.
Theresa May has triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which began the process of leaving the EU on your birthday, the 29th March 2017. Can you forgive her for this day?
The Conservative party is unpardonable. My 23rd birthday was not a happy event. But I was already afraid after the vote to Leave, I had no idea there was such a level of Euroscepticism in the UK. It’s important to bear in mind that the result of the vote was incredibly tight: only 51.9% of the electorate who actually voted, chose to leave. It may take 2-3 years to negotiate a deal: And those who were not of voting age on 23rd June 2016 should be allowed to have a say in their future. So I am demanding another referendum on the final deal. Similarly, all those who believed the lies about Brexit will have the chance to vote again. Then the road to Brexit will be barred. If after everything, Brexit still goes ahead, I don’t think I can stay in the UK. But to tell you the truth, I don’t think this will be the case. “

The Epic Tale of Alba White Wolf’s First Trip to Europe!

The Letters to Europe Project…

After collecting 1000 letters from Remainers at various protest events across the country I crowdfunded over £1300 to hand-deliver them to Brussels and attend meetings at the European Parliament with Guy Verhofstadt and others. Myself, Alba White Wolf and the Letters2Europe team (Andrew Galdron A.K.A FauxBoJo and Charlie Grosvenor) were to travel to Brussels from 6-10th December and make our voices heard at Christmas time with our message of peace, friendship and hope for the UK’s future in Europe. Brussels based friends Mathew Lowry and Richard Medic helped organise the trip and promote it from their side of the Channel.

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The Letters to Europe Team Protesting Outside the Berlaymont Building, Brussels

Difficulties From the Outset…

The trip was never going to be easy for several reasons; firstly, travelling with a dog adds a myriad of extra complications, such as vaccinations, finding dog-friendly accommodation, limitations on transport, etc. Nonetheless, we felt that it was worth the effort to raise awareness of the EU pet passport and animal rights issues, and because Alba looks super cute in her EU flag t-shirt which would make for excellent photo opportunities. Secondly, we were trying to organise the project on a shoestring budget, which meant we had to prioritise cheapness over convenience. Thirdly, due to a huge demand for accommodation (which we later discovered was due to the Catalonia protest on Thursday 7th) we ended up staying in one hotel on the Wednesday night and 3 different hotels on opposite sides of Brussels for the last 3 nights. We were also trying to achieve a project which had never been done before and hiccups are to be expected when venturing into unchartered territory (although perhaps not quite as many hiccups as we ultimately experienced!) Finally, Alba decided to eat my purse the weekend before we were due to travel. And having initially believed my debit card had escaped unscathed, the next time I attempted to use it I discovered 2 small teeth marks on the chip. Nationwide were unable to issue a new debit card outside of a 3-6 day time frame, which meant I had to travel to Brussels without access to cash in an emergency.

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Alba and her EU Pet Passport

Additional Complications…

The trip was made even more complicated when I was invited to a Christmas party in the Houses of Parliament on the day we were due to travel, Wednesday 6th December from 4-6pm. So the plan was for me to get the 11:49am train to st.Pancras with Alba, Drew and Charlie would collect her in the car at 2pm, then drive to Dover to get the ferry at 6pm, meanwhile I would go to the Christmas party and then take the 7:37pm Eurostar which arrives in Brussels at 10:30pm, roughly the same time as Charlie, Drew and Alba who would pick me up and drive us to the hotel, which was about half an hour away in the car. Terrifically complicated but perfectly possible.

Except I missed my train.

It would seem that trying to organise everything proved to much. Having spent the last few nights packing 1000 letters into envelopes, whilst attempting to make last minute arrangements for the trip, I was already in a state of agitation. On the Tuesday I couldn’t find my passport, which I had accidentally tidied away when a BBC reporter came around to film an interview about the Letters2Europe project, so I wasted an hour and a half frantically searching for it. I also had to travel to Doncaster on the Tuesday afternoon/evening for an event and, as usual, the trains were all running late. And Charlie had also discovered Alba would need a tape worm vaccination, which is valid for only 120 hours before re-entering the UK, so I had to book her into the vets on the Wednesday morning before we left. So when I arrived at Sheffield station on Wednesday lunchtime, I wasn’t at all surprised to discover that what I thought was the 11:59am was in fact the 11:49am train and had just departed from platform 5, leaving me stuck at Sheffield station for another 40 minutes. It was at this point my trademark gold shoes also took the opportunity to self destruct, which is not ideal when you are tying to manage a suitcase, a guitar, 2 bags and a hyper active dog. I had the ominous feeling that this was only the start of a run of bad luck.

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Filming with the BBC Reporter

Disasters En Route to Brussels…

We arrived at st.Pancras at 2:30pm but I couldn’t find Drew and Charlie in the car, so by the time we got everything packed up and said our goodbyes it was already 3pm. Charlie gave me some cellotape to temporarily hold my shoes back together before I found some glue for a semi-permanent fix. A woman passing by saw me sat on some steps wrapping tape around my feet, she laughed and then said I was “very resourceful” and congratulated me on “not giving up”. I then headed to the Christmas party at the Houses of Parliament, but was much to anxious and stressed by this point to enjoy it. I was actually in the process of listing everything that had gone wrong so far to Mike Galsworthy, when someone knocked into an MP who accidentally threw his glass of mulled wine down my EU elf dress. At this point I decided to get changed and leave, the last thing I wanted was to miss the 7:37pm Eurostar which was the last train to Brussels that night as missing it would mean also missing my meeting with Guy Verhofstadt the next day. Given my current run of luck, I felt astonished and relieved when I found myself sat on a packed Eurostar train travelling to the correct destination at the correct time. Then I got the text from Drew and Charlie, they had missed the ferry and were getting the next one at 8pm. Which was fine except I would be waiting around Gare du Midi for 2-3 hours. I didn’t have any euros for a taxi as Charlie still had them, and although my Dad who had given me his debit card instructing me “not to lose it”, I couldn’t find an ATM anywhere in the station and there were no staff around to ask. So I settled myself down on some benches in a well lit, open area in the food court, determined to “man out” the long, cold wait (I only had a thin waterproof coat as my other clothes were in a suitcase in the car).

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Live Animals are not allowed to travel on the Eurostar, however stuffed replicas are fine.

Panic Sets In…

But after about half an hour, Drew and Charlie contacted me to say their ETA was now 1am and I started to become concerned that my phone was running out of battery. I was busy messaging them when a man came over to me and tried to explain in french that he had just seen someone steal my purse from my bag, which was next to me on the bench. Not quite understanding what he was saying at first, more due to shock rather than lack of vocabulary, he went and told the security guards, who spoke english. Which made little odds because they didn’t have anything helpful to say, other than the police station was not open until the morning and they would be shutting the station at 1am and I would be chucked outside, with no money, nowhere to go and a dead phone battery. It was at this point that panic set in. Once Drew and Charlie knew the situation they attempted to book an Uber to get me safely to the hotel where they would meet me when they arrived (ETA now 1:30am) however, when I attempted to find the Uber it was nowhere to be seen. I walked from one side (of the huge) station to the other, trying 3 different exits and couldn’t locate the car, the driver wasn’t able to offer any helpful advice as to his location and every time I walked across the station I was being yelled at by dodgy looking guys and a gang of youths, one of whom decided to push into me to the delight of all her mates. I was on the verge of tears when Mike, phoned me to say he had a friend in Brussels who could give me euros to pay for the taxi to the hotel, an offer I wasn’t prepared to turn down at that point. I jumped in a taxi to his apartment and his girlfriend gave me camomile tea whilst my phone charged and I attempted to stick my shoes back together with UHU. Charlie and Drew’s ETA to our hotel was now 2am, so we called another taxi which should have got me there at roughly the same time. Except when it arrived it was patently clear that the crumbly, ancient driver had absolutely no idea where he was going. I was horrified when he pulled out a paper street map of Brussels whilst he was driving and attempted to navigate without GPS technology. Needless to say, he came off the motorway too early and we got lost. We ended up driving around a rural area on a country track that ran parallel to the main road, when we returned to a somewhat urban area, he continually stopped the car in the middle of the road to turn around and shout at me in French, jabbing his finger at the paper map and demanding to know how to get to the hotel. I was starting to wonder what I had done to deserve this hellish series of events and if I would ever make it to the hotel. In the end, Drew managed to call me with directions and I was relieved when we did get there at about 2:30am, although the taxi driver did try to charge me €46 for having driven around in circles for several miles. We checked in, and Alba snuggled up close to me having missed me during the eventful journey to Brussels. I would have slept soundly if it hadn’t been for person in the room next to me noisily snoring all night and then having a series of repeated coughing fits from 7am.

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Snuggled Up at the Hotel (Finally!)

Ceci n’est pas un Voyage… C’est un Cauchemar

The next morning, I got up bleary eyed to take Alba out for a run before we began the next day of hilarities. And on the country tracks near the hotel I discovered a pair of pink fairy wings lying in the middle of the road. I knew that Brussels is the home of surrealism, but felt that this was truly taking the piss.

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A Mysterious Pair of Pink Fairy Wings Provided a Surreal Start to the Day…

Bonjour, bonjour, bonjour… Vous faites quoi madame?

The next mission was to get from the hotel to the European Parliament in time for the meeting with Guy Verhofstadt at 12h. Allowing ourselves 2 hours, should have been ample time, but given our current run of luck, and several roads being closed for the Catalan protest, I was feeling slightly anxious.  We arrived outside the parliament shortly after 11h, but made the mistake of parking directly behind a police riot van who confronted us when we attempted to unpack the bag of letters out of the boot. The police officers in the back of the riot van seemed greatly entertained by my supergirl outfit, but the cheif officer seemed less impressed, demanding to see my passport and asking what we were doing at the parliament buildings. He didn’t quite believe me when I told him I was meeting with Guy Verhofstadt, doing a double-take at my unconventional outfit.

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With the “Suspicious” Bag of Letters Outside the European Palrliament

Meeting Guy Verhofstadt…

The meeting with Guy Verhofstadt was excellent, I was surprised by how friendly and down to Earth he seemed. I feel that the Leave campaign and the right-wing press have done a huge disservice to the honest, hard working individuals who are so frequently, falsely described as “Faceless European Bureaucrats”. It became patently clear in my brief conversation with Guy that European Citizen’s rights were his utmost priority in the Brexit negotiations, a refreshing change from the UK government’s blinkered obsession with the free trade deal they are hoping to negotiate. I think very few people, when they voted to leave the European Union, actually considered the impact that Brexit would have on millions of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living abroad whose lives are now in Limbo, faced with constant stress and insecurity. Guy’s focus is clearly to ensure the future of these citizens and their families. I was incredibly grateful to Mathew who managed to arrange this opportunity to meet such a lovely man (the whole meeting was live streamed to the Letters to Europe facebook page) to thank him personally for his work with a message of solidarity from the UK and a Christmas gift of a pair of EU socks!

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Guy opens one of the “Letter to Europe”, afterwards he took 2 more handfuls of letters to read

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Guy shows Madeleina his Splendid Union Jack Fridge

Alba Makes her Outrage Known…

After meeting Guy, we went to find Charlie who was looking after Alba. They walked with us to our next meeting with Luca Jahier, the future president of the EESC (European Economic and Social Committee). We had a much longer meeting, which was also live streamed, where we discussed Brexit and citizen participation initiatives as well as exchanging letters. Alba, however, was not at all impressed about being refused entry to any of the meetings in Brussels after she had travelled all the way from the UK to protest about her EU Pet Passport…

The Fun Continues…

After spending a good hour or so wandering around trying to find the entrance to the car park where Charlie had left the car, we checking into our 3 respective hotels, which were inconveniently on opposite sides of Brussels. In the evening we returned to Place Luxembourg where Mathew and Richard had organised a social event at the Grape Vine. Myself and FauxBoJo performed our songs and then we began distributing the letters to people in the surrounding cafes, asking people to write Christmas cards in exchange for their letters. We had a huge mixture of responses to the project, from people who flatly refused to take a letter and made it patently clear that they didn’t want to be hassled by pro-EU campaigners, to the other extreme, with people gushing about how distraught they were over Brexit and congratulating us on our wonderful project. There was of course many varied responses in between, with some people refusing to take a letter until I explained they were about Brexit, then they would suddenly break out in “AH!”s and immediately take a letter declaring how much they disliked Brexit. Some people who disagreed with Brexit asked me what was the point of the Letters to Europe project because “Brexit was happening and can’t be stopped”. In some ways these were the most important group to reach out to, making the point that Brexit can be stopped and there are many British citizens actively fighting it and moreover, regardless of what happens that we all want to stay friends and close allies with Europe. I met a young woman who works for an MEP and promised to give a letter to him; also a young man whose job in Brussels was being threatened by Brexit and he seemed deeply moved by the initiative. I was heartened by the number of people who recognised me from media coverage of the #EUsupergirl stunt or from social media, some of whom were initially sceptical suddenly became engaged when they made the connection – which goes to show the power of a friendly face. Many of these interactions were filmed and published on the facebook page to show everyone who supported the project, the tangible positive impact it was making to spread a message of peace, friendship and solidarity.

Thank God its Friday!

On Friday morning we discovered Theresa May had sneaked in and out of Brussels during the night. Sadly we missed her, but decided to stage a musical protest outside the Berlaymont building anyhow, performing our best protest songs with Drew’s portable amp for backing. We attracted a lot of cameras from passersby and journalists coming out of the European Commission and received a reasonable amount of media coverage in the Guardian, IrishTimes and even an asian publication for our stunt.

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Protesting outside the Berlaymont Building

Hitting the Christmas Markets…

In the afternoon we headed to the Christmas markets, but were once again faced with the ongoing parking and traffic problems we seemed to be experiencing in brussels. So Charlie took Alba and tried to find somewhere to park (the closest place he eventually found was 20 minutes walk away) whilst the rest of us took the very clean and efficient tube to the markets. They were as gorgeous as expected and I really enjoyed wandering up and down handing out the letters. The people who tended to be most receptive to the letters were in fact the store holders, many of whom were Belgian nationals who we spoke to in French. There was a particularly lovely video of a young man who said he was taking classes to improve his English, he read the letter and said he agreed with what was written on it, “We need to love each other more”. I was really touched by the sincere and heartfelt reactions from many of those who received the letters, however, I realised that these qualitative experiences many of which were caught on camera, also consumed a lot of time. I realised that we weren’t going to be able to give out all the letters, because people wanted to stop and talk to us about the project and about the issues we are trying to raise. This of course, is a very positive outcome, but has left us with the problem that we did not manage to distribute all the letters on this trip… Which means we will have to return to Europe in the New Year to deliver the rest of them (which I am not complaining about in the slightest!)

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#EUsupergirl Delivers Letters at the Brussels Xmas Markets

Trip Over the Border to the Netherlands…

On Saturday morning I had a 9am photoshoot and interview for Paris Match in the Parc Cinquaintenaire, but we had the rest of the day available to use at our discretion. We were very keen to visit another European country during our trip, to distribute more of the letters. We had initially planned a drive across the border to Auhaus in Germany where there is a pub called the UnBrexit. However, heavy snow conditions would have made it illegal for us to drive in Germany without winter tyres, so instead we decided to go to the slightly closer Rotterdam. I was especially pleased at this decision as the second destination in my book Alba White Wolf’s Adventures in Europe is the Netherlands, after Belgium!

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Alba was less than Impressed at the Prospect of Wearing Clogs!

Bridging ERASMUS

We decided to visit the Erasmus bridge, as we were also assured there would be a souvenir shop where I could buy Alba (2 pairs of) clogs. Unsurprisingly we also found wooden tulips outside and I bought a flag which made for some excellent photo opportunities. Whilst taking a photo of Alba in her clogs we attracted the attention of a young family and a couple, to whom we gave out letters. I also gave the little boys a copy of Alba’s book explaining that we are trying to take her to every country in the EU, just like in the story. They were all interested to find out about the Letters to Europe project and discuss their disdain over Brexit, it was becoming apparent through these encounters with Europeans that they find Brexit utterly incomprehensible. Then again, so do I.

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FauxBoJo #EUsupergirl and Alba White Wolf on the ERASMUS Bridge in Rotterdam

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Sniffing Wooden Tulips (the only Kind You Will Find at this Time of Year!)

Mission Accomplished…

Just as dusk fell, we located a windmill in the city where we could take a photo, replicating the illustration in Alba’s book…

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Destination No.2 in Alba White Wolf’s Adventures in Europe

Snowy Departure on Sunday

I was very pleased that the Paris Match photoshoot had been arranged on Saturday and not Sunday as the heavens suddenly unleashed a blanket of snow on Brussels. I took Alba out for a run before the long car journey back to the UK. She finds the snow greatly exciting, however she became somewhat too excitable and dragged me over in her enthusiasm causing some considerable damage to my leg. Concerned that we would be late catching the ferry, I plastered myself up with band-aids and suggested we find some more suitable bandages en route. However, I discovered that first aid items aren’t generally available at service stations or even on the ferry, so I had to wait until I got back to the UK to find a more appropriate dressing for my Alba inflicted injuries.

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Fraught Ferry Crossing

Having arrived at Calais just in time to make our ferry crossing we discovered that the port was closed after an earlier boat became grounded due to the horrendous weather conditions. Ironically the boat was called the Pride of Kent, or something equally patriotic. So we were instead redirected to Dunkirk, where we took a later ferry back to Dover. Alba made a fuss about being left in the car, but otherwise coped well with the journey. The same could not be said for me and Drew who both collapsed into some seats and fell asleep for most of the voyage.

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Final Reflections…

It was undoubtedly a challenging trip fraught with difficulties and hiccups, but it was also a lot of fun and I was amazed at the kindness and generosity of many of the people who helped make the Letters to Europe project a success or offered a helping hand in a time of need. Travelling with a dog is never easy, but Alba is the EU star of the show so it was 100% worth the effort to take her on her first Adventures in Europe… 2 countries down, 25 more to go!

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Alba visits Belgium, country no.1 of Alba White Wolf’s Adventures in Europe

Dear Santa Claus…

Dear Santa Claus, 🎅
I have been a very good girl this year… I have devoted all of my time and energy to fighting Brexit.
I’m sure you already know that All I Want For Xmas is EU… 🇪🇺🎄🇪🇺 And I would quite happily sacrifice all Christmas presents for the rest of my lifetime if I could keep my EU citizenship and stop Brexit from ruining the country that I love and call my home️. 🇬🇧💔🇪🇺️ But I am also aware that the presence of the Brexit Grinch may make it difficult for you to deliver on that Christmas wish. So failing completely stopping Brexit for Christmas, could you please give me some items that may assist in my fight to Remain in the European Union? 🇪🇺🎅🎄☃️🇪🇺🎅🎄☃️🇪🇺🎅🎄☃️
1) Gold trainers (mine self destructed en route to Brussels and are currently celotaped together)
2) A new purse/wallet (mine was stollen at Brussels Gare du Midi)
3) A new driver’s licence (inside the stolen purse)
4) A new EU Star t-shirt for Alba (the one she currently wears is too big and gets caught on her feet when she is running)… OR failing that:
5) A blue t-shirt and some yellow foam sheets to make a new t-shirt for AlbaWhiteWolf
6) A big juicy bone for Alba because she deserves one for being such an EU star! 🌟🌟
7) Another 1x2m EU flag (Alba has been chewing mine) 🇪🇺
8️) A 1x2m Union Jack Flag (I feel it is important to emphasise we are fighting Brexit for the sake of the UK) 🇬🇧
9) A new EU fancy dress outfit. Possible ideas:
i) EU Queen/Princess
ii) EUnicorn
iii) EU warrior/Queen Boudica???
iv) EU Ninja
v) I’m open to suggestions….
10) An i-Phone so I can facebook live stream/navigate on google maps/edit content on the go/etc. (trying to manage an iPad and a separate windows phone is proving to be continually awkward…)
11) Enough watercolour paper and paints to last me for the rest of this year
12) New paintbrushes (because mine are all ratty now)
13) EU Badges that don’t continually fall off my guitar case (because I think people are sick of picking them up for me when i’m travelling around on the tube/trains)
14) Free rail travel to protests for the rest of the year because train tickets are a complete rip off.
15) Somewhere to stay in London after protests because hotels are also a complete rip off.
16) A bath tub, because we don’t have one at home and it helps when i’m fucking stressed out.
17) A copy of Nick Clegg’s new book “How to Stop Brexit”
18) An EU umbrella to go with my Union Jack coat
19) Generally any pro-EU paraphernalia you have lying around your work shop would be appreciated.
20) A boyfriend with EU nationality that I can marry and gain EU citizenship if we fail to stop Brexit.
😂😂😂😂😂😂
I think that is all.
N.B. If you can deliver on the Stop Brexit request, none of the above items will be necessary.
Best Wishes,
EU Supergirl A.K.A Madeleina Kay
 
P.S. If you experience any problems delivering presents to the UK due to border/customs controls etc. Please let me know and I will send Alba to go and bite them.
🇪🇺🐺🇪🇺🐺🇪🇺🐺🇪🇺🐺🇪🇺🐺🇪🇺
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The Brexit Grinch Song

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Today I went to the studio to record this year’s Brexmas song. After the success of last year’s spoof song – ‘All I Want For Xmas Is EU’, which clocked up 60K views on facebook – I decided I needed to go one better this year and write a completely original record.

The premise of the Brexit Grinch song is that Santa encounters endless problems at Xmas time as a result of Brexit; Flights being grounded over the UK, Rudolph’s EU pet passport being invlaid, etc. The point is to try and convey some of the many complications and difficulties that Brexit is going to cause that weren’t talked or thought about before the EU referendum. Many of these problems are only beginning to surface now, during the complex negotiation process and as the impacts of Brexit begin to materialise. It is absolutely crucial that we respond to this increasing information and understanding and it is our democratic right to express our views and have the possibility of changing our minds in light of this information.

The Brexit Grinch song is just another fun and entertaining way of communicating this message. Santa is from Lapland, when he comes to the UK to deliver presents, he is essentially a Finish immigrant and would require a visa after Brexit. Would his application be granted given the inconsistent nature of his seasonal work? And how long would it take for him to get through customs checks at the borders? Could he even deliver all the presents in time for Christmas day?

Asking people to think about these questions will hopefully make them think twice about our decision to leave the European Union. The recording of the song will be released in time for the Xmas charts along with another high quality music video that will be guaranteed to raise some laughs this year. If not anything else, the Remainers need festive entertainment such as this to keep their spirits up! The New Year beckons and we must remain optimistic! Merry Brexmas everyone!

The Brexit Grinch Song Lyrics

My Daddy told me not to fear, 

When the Brexit Grinch appeared this year, 

Don’t you worry now, It’ll all be fine, 

We can eat our christmas cake and drink our wine. 

 
 CHORUS: 

Santa Claus where did you go? 

Santa Claus, I’m out here in the snow, 

I’ve been waiting all night long, 

And i’m starting to think there’s something wrong! 

 

You need a visa now if you come from a different nation, 

But the Home Office has rejected Santa’s application, 

His work is seasonal, he labours in the frost,

He’s made his appeal, so keep your fingers crossed! 

 

CHORUS: 

Santa Claus where did you go? 

Santa Claus, I’m out here in the snow, 

I’ve been waiting all night long, 

And i’m starting to think there’s something wrong! 

 
 Rudolph is ready now, rigged up to the sleigh, 

He turns his nose light on and they’re on their way, 

But the border guards stop him with a sneer, 

Turns out his EU Pet Passport isn’t valid here! 

 

CHORUS: 

Santa Claus where did you go? 

Santa Claus, I’m out here in the snow, 

I’ve been waiting all night long, 

And i’m starting to think there’s something wrong! 

 
 Fly across the sky, high up in the night, 

On a Christmas Eve, it’s such a festive sight! 

But flights are grounded, over the UK, 

So Santa has to go on foot with his loaded sleigh 

 

CHORUS: 

Santa Claus where did you go? 

Santa Claus, I’m out here in the snow, 

I’ve been waiting all night long, 

And i’m starting to think there’s something wrong! 

 

It’s getting late, and Santa’s still not come, 

Looks like the Brexit Grinch has stolen all our fun! 

Santa’s been stopped again, for customs checks, 

They’re unwrapping all the presents, goodness knows what’s next! 

 

CHORUS: 

Santa Claus where did you go? 

Santa Claus, I’m out here in the snow, 

I’ve been waiting all night long, 

And i’m starting to think there’s something wrong! 

 

We can’t have our Christmas cake AND eat it, 

No, the Brexit Grinch must be defeated! 

So tell that Brexit grinch to go away! 

He’s not welcome here, no he can’t stay! 

The only Christmas gift I really want to have… 

Is my EU Citizenship and my passport back! 

 

CHORUS: 

Santa Claus where did you go? 

Santa Claus, I’m out here in the snow, 

I’ve been waiting all night long, 

And i’m starting to think there’s something wrong…

Like Brexit!

 

Let Me For Just a Moment Compare Alba to a Brexit Voter…

Let me just for a moment compare Alba to a Brexit Voter…
🇬🇧🐕🇬🇧🐕🇬🇧🐕🇬🇧🐕🇬🇧🐕🇬🇧
 
Now, I will be the first to admit Alba is not the best behaved dog in the world. It’s not the she doesn’t know the commands; she can do sit, lie-down, stay, come, shake, stand up and run around me in circles… But if there is a distraction, say a squirrel or a cat in the vicinity that she just can’t resist chasing, all of these hard learned commands go out of the window. 🤔😒👉🐕
 
Today Alba saw a squirrel and yanked the lead out of my hand launching herself after this delectable little critter. She just can’t resist a good game of chase. Nonetheless, it appears all the fun is in the chase, when she gets within touching distance of the squirrel or cat in question she really doesn’t know what to do, typically backing away and barking. 🐕💔🐿️🐈
 
However, when Alba is lost in the fun of the chase, it is nigh on impossible to call her back. I can use my most stern and authoritative voice, instructing her to “come” to me and it makes not a shred of difference. Her mind is fixated on the squirrel. “Squizzel, Squizzel,look a squizzel, must chase squizzel…” In a similar style to Dastardly & Muttley, “Catch the pigeon! Catch the pigeon! Catch that pigeon now!”
🐕💓💓💓🐿️🐦
It seems the only way for me to break this spell, is to incentivise Alba to return to me. Today I picked up a stick, which Alba adores, and said “Alba! Alba! Look Sticky Stick! Come and get the Sticky Stick!” And she immediately came bounding back to me. Instead of scolding her for having absconded, I praised her for returning to me and gave her the sticky stick. Taking hold of the lead, she was now back in safe and competent hands, everyone was happy in the knowledge that Alba wasn’t about to charge around the park terrorising the other dogs and their owners. 🌲🌳🌲🌳🌲🌳🌲🌳
 
So just imagine for a second that Alba is a Brexit voter, chasing after the ever enticing Farage-Squirrel or Boris-Fat-Cat. We must forgive them the thrill of the chase, their endless optimism about the joys of finally coming within sniffing’s distance of the prize. Instead we must wave the EU like Alba’s sticky stick and draw them back to us once they have realised that the Squizzel will never live up to expectations. Take “the People” back into safe and competent hands and stop them from terrorising the other members of the public, including EU citizens, who are just trying to go about their day to day lives, doing their jobs, paying taxes, contributing to their communities and walking their dogs in the park… 🇪🇺🇬🇧🇪🇺🇬🇧🇪🇺🇬🇧🇪🇺
 
Just an interesting analogy for the day… 🤭🤭🤭
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Advice For the EU from a Supergirl Activist

Winning the #EUinMyRegion blogging competition allowed me to visit Brussels, for the first time, and see the work of the EU Commissions and Parliament. I have been on a steep learning curve since the EU Referendum in Britain, having realised I actually knew very little about the EU, what it is and what it does. Unfortunately, my lack of knowledge was not a unique case but a nation-wide problem, that resulted in people voting for their future based on very little understanding and information. The injustice of the Brexit vote is even more striking given that we were lied to by leading political figures who, to this day, continue to make their unfounded, deceitful claims. The EU funded projects are very poorly publicised in the UK, you rarely see an EU flag flying (unlike most other member states), and the level of political education in this country is abysmal.   

 

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Madeleina’s First Visit to the European Parliament

UK citizens voted for Brexit for a plethora of often conflicting reasons. But many people living in deprived regional areas, such as Wales and the North-East, voted for Brexit thinking that the EU was somehow to blame for the inequality in the UK: the EU was effectively used as a scape-goat by politicians for the failings of domestic policy, when in fact the EU has been doing much to address the deprivation in those very regions who voted most highly to Leave. Those regions hoping for a better, brighter future outside of the EU, have shot themselves in the foot; some voters earnestly believing that we would have more money to fund Britain’s struggling NHS. Having spent a week at the heart of the European Union, seeing some of the fantastic work it achieves, I can’t help but think we have done them a great disservice and I can only hope that they will forgive us our misinformed blunder and welcome us back with open arms when we finally admit the error of our decision. However, I also think that the EU needs to do some work to prevent other nations from following a similarly erroneous trajectory. An attitude shift will be necessary in order to make the European institutions more accessible, inclusive and engaging to a wider group of citizens; which is needed alongside much better publicity of the fantastic work that the EU does to support the development of its member states.  

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“Creative Campaigning” Musical Performances to Spread Political Messages

The Grey to Green Scheme  

I first stumbled across the Grey to Green Scheme in Sheffield‘s city centre when I was living in the nearby Peak District countryside. I was on my way to an art exhibition in a converted factory building in the old industrial area of the city. I remarked on the stark but attractive transition in the landscape design, and noted on the carefully considered aesthetic. I thought no more of it, until I began studying Landscape Architecture at the University of Sheffield and discovered my tutors were responsible for the planting design. At the start of our second year, a few months after the Brexit vote, they took us on a site visit to see the Grey to Green Scheme. I was outraged to discover that it was EU funded, currently one-third complete and the remaining sections were now, “subject to funding”, as a result of Brexit. The Grey to Green Scheme is a fantastic example of how EU funding supports deprived regional areas to enhance their economic, social and environmental development. The scheme, in its entirety should extend 1.2km from the City Centre to the River Don, providing multiple benefits for the local community. The Sustainable Urban Drainage System mitigates the impact of flooding in an area of the city which was devastated by the 2007 floods. The planting scheme provides seasonal interest, sensory stimulation, an enhanced visual aesthetic and habitat for wildlife. There are seating areas and public art installations, which are enjoyed by local business employees and people attending the nearby law courts. The scheme is also used for leisure purposes; local residents cycle, jog and walk down the green corridor. Furthermore, above all these social and environmental benefits, the Grey to Green Scheme was awarded funding primarily for the economic benefit it brings to this developing area of Sheffield City Centre. The psychology of landscape is subtle but can have a powerful influence; the improved visual design helps to attract investment and make the City Centre a more desirable place to set up a business.  

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Alba Enjoying the Grey to Green Scheme in Sheffield

One of the key motivating factors in my decision to suspend my studies at the University of Sheffield in order to campaign full-time against Brexit, was the knowledge that Landscape design projects such as the Grey to Green Scheme were unlikely to acquire future funding. The Conservative government has a track record of scrapping environmental legislation and prioritising London-centric business over the environment and deprived regional areas. The EU was working to remediate the inequality in the UK and enforce environmental protections. As someone who cares passionately about the environment and addressing inequality, I feel obliged to fight this decision which jeopardises the progress to a fairer society and sustainable future for the country that I call my home.  

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Action on Climate Change – Reason No.4 from Madeleina’s “Reasons to Remain” Poster

#EUinmyRegion Blogging Competition  

When I discovered the #EUinmyRegion blogging competition, which was being run by the EU Commission, the Grey to Green scheme seemed the obvious thing to write about. The blogging competition itself is an excellent initiative to provide the EU with some much needed publicity. The competition is open to all EU member states and encourages participants to research and write about funding in their area and share those articles on their social media networks. Every person who entered the competition will therefore have helped to increase the dissemination of knowledge about EU funded projects. This activity is of huge value in its own right, and I can only hope that the competition grows exponentially in future years, because every participant who enters the competition will contribute to promoting the EU and raise awareness of the EU funding in their region. 

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Seating Area, Part of the Grey to Green Scheme in Sheffield

Whilst researching the EU funded projects in Sheffield I discovered that the striking redevelopment around the station and the much treasured Peace Gardens were also funded by the EU. Yet I have never seen an EU flag flying in Sheffield. I think it is an outrage that because of poor publicity, people who benefit from these fantastic regional development projects have no awareness of where the funding has come from. And I am certain this deficiency in knowledge was a contributing factor to the Brexit vote. Recently on BBC Radio 5 Live I was debating with a Brexit supporter who made the unfounded statement, “The EU has done nothing for the North-East”. If she had sought information from the NE4EU group or even her MEPs, she would discover that the EU has actually put a huge amount of regional development funding into the North-East of England. It is a huge concern to me that the leading Brexiteers, who have perverse and selfish motivations for Brexit, have lead the wilfully ignorant into voting for something that will ultimately harm their deprived regions, furthering the inequality in the UK. 

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The EU Scape Goat is Pushed of the Cliff by Leading Brexiteers

Increasing knowledge and understanding about the EU is one of the key aims in my campaigning, although I try to do it in a fun, friendly and engaging manner that will be accessible to a wider audience. When I submitted my article into the blogging competition, I included photos of Alba enjoying the flourishing Grey to Green Scheme in the spring sunshine. The article which was published on the platform EuropaUnited, and I shared it vociferously on twitter, and from my Facebook page to the pro-EU groups (most of which were formed after the Brexit vote). A huge community has developed behind the Remain campaign since the referendum, when the vote shocked many complacent Remainers into activism. This passionate and friendly support network are usually extremely happy to promote pro-EU initiatives and share knowledge about the EU, so my article began clocking-up lots of visits. I received lots of feedback from people, saying how much they liked the article and I felt genuinely proud that I had raised awareness of this fantastic project that my tutors had helped to bring to fruition. Obviously, the judges of the blogging competition were impressed too, as my blog came in joint 3rd place from combined judges’s score and website traffic coming from social media shares. 

 

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A Community of Remain Campaigners Organise Regular Creative Protests

Revelations in Brussels 

The reward for winning the competition was to attend a mobile journalism course and the sessions at the European Week of Region and Cities in Brussels.  At the EWRC, I spoke to lots of journalists and staff from the European Commission about the disruption Brexit is causing to the great work of the European Union. It makes me feel very depressed to think that very soon the UK may no longer be part of this great European project, and ever more determined to fight Brexit. Attending the RegioStars awards was a real eye opener for me as I discovered some of the amazing projects which have received funding from the EU. Two projects that really stuck in my mind were; the Spanish initiative to help rehabilitate victims of gender based violence; and the German company producing devices to help elderly people stay living safely in their own homes for longer. There is great potential for these schemes and products, to be rolled out across the EU and benefit even more people and communities. However, publicising the projects is equally as important as funding them and this is where I think the EU needs to put in more effort. 

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Madeleina and Fellow Competition Winner Claudia Shute in the EU Parliament

In nearly every session I attended at the EWRC there was at least one person expressing a need to reach out, widen participation and engagement, and motivate citizens to show more active support for the EU. The work of the EU is of serious importance, but if we truly want to engage a wider pool of citizens in the work of the EU, then we need to rethink how those serious messages are being communicated. I spent most of my week in Brussels running around in a superhero costume, because it makes people smile and laugh, it engages attention which leads to a conversation about the important issues. In my Remain campaign work, back at home in the UK, I write songs and stories, I perform in a variety of fancy dress costumes, I draw cartoons, illustrate books, and produce visual content which I share extensively on social media. It makes people stop, look and listen to what I have to say. Using alternative methods to reach out to young people and citizens who are typically disengaged with politics is imperative in reversing the rise of populism in Europe and garnering the future generation’s support for the EU.  

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Two Young Girls Watch as Madeleina Performs in Newcastle

The #EUinmyRegion blogging competition is one great initiative to widen knowledge of the EU’s work, but many more are needed. And to take a rare piece of advice from David Davis, I think more “imagination” is needed. 

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David Davis “Imagines” Britain’s Future outside of the EU

After I turned up at the Brexit negotiations press conference wearing my EU Supergirl costume, half of the news platforms in Europe seemed to be covering the story (including BBC News, BBC Radio 4, ITV News, Sky News, the Guardian, the Evening Standardthe Telegraph, the Express, EuroNews and Politico). I was interviewed on the BBC Daily Politics Show the following day and the following week, my regional BBC Sunday Politics Show broadcast a whole feature about my activism at the Grey to Green Scheme in Sheffield. I was proud that my activism had brought some much needed publicity to the project, which was my initial aim in choosing to write about it. In the final sentence of my competition winning blog, I wrote; 

 “This fantastic and hugely valuable project was funded by the European Union and everybody in Sheffield who benefits from the scheme on a daily basis ought to know.”  

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Filming with the BBC at the Grey to Green Scheme in Sheffield

I appreciate that some people don’t like my style, one newspaper even described me as “the Joker of Remain”, but no-one can doubt that I achieved unprecedented publicity for the Remain campaign and by proxy helped to spread the pro-EU message. At recent public events, children have started coming up to me and asking for “a photo with EU Super Girl” who they had seen on the TV, and I can only hope it inspires them fight to Remain part of the future generation of EU citizens. 

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A Young Girl Poses for a Photo with EU Supergirl and Alba

Rage Against the Brexit Machine

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The Birth of the Protest Singer

I wrote my first protest song on 24th June 2016. It was called I’m Sorry We Left EUI will be the first to admit it wasn’t very good, but it came from the heart, including such expertly crafted lyrics as; 

“We didn’t mean to cause division,
We still want to sing in the Eurovision.” 

Which, after my Dad told me sounded too cheesey, I then changed to; 

“We didn’t mean to cause division,
We want to help in the global mission,
To end hatred, poverty and war,
We want to go back to how things were before.” 

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First Political Protest Outside Sheffield Town Hall (June 2016)

But Cheese Works…

I later reverted to performing the original lyrics after I realised that the “cheese” had an endearing quality and usually got a few laughs or consensual cheers at protest rallies. This was the first of many lessons that humour and gimmicky cultural references often make a more engaging political campaign than sincere and heart-felt argument. It also shows that participating in the Eurovision Song Contest is unquestionably more important than ending global poverty and hate crime or bringing peace to our planet. 

A few days after writing my first protest song and recording a dodgy version on my i-pad in the bathroom, I turned up at a rally outside Sheffield Town Hall and somehow convinced the Lib-Dem councillors to let me perform it. The protest and my song were afterwards covered by the local newspaper the Sheffield Star. I can only thank them for this opportunity to express my emotional reaction to the Referendum result. Their continued support allowed me to perform at Lib Dem Newbie social events including the Christmas Drinks with Nick Clegg, who heartily joined in with We Wish EU A Merry Christmas, wearing his fetching, blue Christmas jumper which was purchased in a local charity shop and he repeatedly assured us only came out once a year.  

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With Nick Clegg at the Lib Dem Newbies Christmas Drinks in Sheffield (December 2016)

Over the last 15 months I have been writing, recording and performing a steadily improving catalogue of protest songs at marches, rallies and gigs up and down the country from London to Newcastle. I have released several singles on iTunes including the Brexit Hokey Cokey and Strong and Stable My Arse, as a solo artist, which have received some newspaper coverage. My songs have been included in the Sixteen Million Rising Radio Show and played at protests organised by the No.10 Vigil. I have more recently teamed up with the hugely talented Peter Cook to produce an album of Brexit protest songs called Rage Against the Brexit Machine. 

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Performing with the No 10 Vigil Protest Group at Waterloo Station (May 2017)

 

The idea behind the album came after I met Peter Cook the No 10 Vigil protests outside Downing Street. I have been involved with the Vigil from its start in February 2017. They are an incredibly dedicated team of campaigners who have been protesting 3 times a week as well as organising events such as the “Summer Boat Party” and my “Brexit Wonderland” birthday party on 29th March, the day Theresa May triggered Article 50 (Brexit is one birthday present I hope not to receive in 2019!). Living in Sheffield, I can’t make it down to the vigil on a regular basis but I attend whenever I am staying in London, or make special trips down for big events such as the anniversary of the EU referendum on 23rd June 2017 where we launched the Letters2Europe project. 

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Performing at the No 10 Vigil Summer Boat Party on the Thames (August 2017)

Peter Cook had assumed the role of Musical Director for the Vigil and his musical ability and creative talent were quite evident from the start. Live music provides a fantastic and invigorating experience and sense of social cohesion that can never be replicated by a recorded track played through speakers. Sadly, the time, hard work and effort that goes into providing this entertainment is often underestimated, and when not properly supported is usually unsustainable. I know only too well the strains of trying to survive as a creative without the financial and emotional support and networks necessary to promote and support your work. I had written quite a catalogue of songs after a year of campaigning and had multiple requests from people wanting to buy an album of them on a CD. Sadly, the costs of recording and producing an album are staggering and not something that was financially feasible. 

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Performing At the No 10 Vigil Opposite Downing Street (June 2017)

This was when I decided to approach Peter, I knew he had connections in the music industry, having worked for Richard Branson and could see quite plainly he was a talented musician and passionate about Remain. I mentioned the idea of collaborating on an album, wondering if we could crowdfund such a project between our joint networks, and he must have been thinking the same thing because he has absolutely ran with the idea. He has managed to secure a record deal with NUB records for an album of songs under the Rage Against the Brexit Machine banner. We  have already recorded and released 3 tracks: Pants to Brexitan electro-pop dance anthem; No, Jeremy Corbyn an full on rock-out protest against Labour’s stance on Brexit and Jacob Rees-Moog a hilarious synthesised selection of sound bites to an epilepsy inducing backing groove. Bruce Springsteen’s band, the E-street Bandhave also written a song for the album‘Way To Know’. We are planning to keep releasing songs to fight the rising tide of Brexshit including a big anti-Brexit Christmas hit, which we hope to get into the UKTop40 charts. 

Fighting Populism with Pop Music

The intention of the project is to fight populism with pop music. We have seen time and time again that rational argument, facts and reason don’t work with the Brexiteers and the average member of the public who have followed this clap-trap brigade of bawling scoundrels like a herd of suicidal sheep heading for the Brexit cliff edge. Theresa May demanding a transitional deal with the EU is like adding a little jetty to the cliff edge, it won’t stop the fluffy little sheep smashing their skulls open on the rocks below, it will just delay the time before they tumble to their eventual doom. “The People” aren’t interested in seeing evidence that shows the disastrous consequences of the idealistic Brexit they voted for in good faith. Nor are they interested in listening to “expert” advice that shows a reality contrary to the Brexiteers wild and “imaginative” vision for the Brexit Wonderland, which “the People” have whole-heartedly and naively bought into. When you put these arguments to them, they are usually ignored, denied or responded to with abuse and aggression… How DARE we defy “democracy” by objecting to an illegitimately won advisory referendum, based on misunderstanding, misinformation and outright lies. How DARE we be so unpatriotic as to want what is in the best interests of our country and the European Citizens who have made their homes here, contributing to our society and economy. It’s a pointless argument with those who refuse to listen, so here lies the question: How do we get their attention, make our views heard and start to change minds? 

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Performing at the Brighton Labour Party Conference Protest (Sept 2017)

Arts to Challenge Lies

We do it with art, music, passion, creativity and fun. We need to create something that will knock the socks off every Wetherspoons customer in the country. We must stop their mindless parroting of Boris Johnson’s lies about the £350m and we make them shut up and pay attention. Then we show them what they are missing out on: a wonderful, welcoming, multicultural, kind and caring community. We want them to see our pride in our European identity and we have to make them want it. 

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NorthEast4Europe Rally in Newcastle, October 2017

BBC Sunday Politics Appearance

Publicity is key in spreading our message to the public. However, in a market that is controlled by music industry moguls, it is near impossible to be heard unless you have big money to put into marketing. However, I recently had the opportunity to promote one of tracks, ‘Jacob Rees-Moog’ in a BBC Sunday Politics broadcast in which I was being pitched against a “MOGGMENTUM” disciple who was so devoted he had the word tattooed on his chest. I was amazed the BBC broadcast such a long section of the music video, which features my illustrations including a Harry Potter JRM, a S&M JRM and a zombie Theresa May. All of the BBC staff were very complimentary of the “creativity” shown in the video, nonetheless it was an excellent opportunity to shine a spotlight on the Rage Against the Brexit Machine project.

Watch the BBC clip from 1:00:38 on the iPlayer.

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#EUSupergirl on BBC Sunday Politics

Brexit Xmas No.1 Hit

Our next initiative is to crash the Xmas charts with an anti-Brexit Xmas hit. Which you can support on crowdfunder and buy the track when it’s released!

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But We Need Your Support!

Please support the musical project by liking the page on Facebook,  joining the Rage Against the Brexit Machine group on facebook, following us on twitter @BrexitRage

Support the Crowdfunder for a Brexit Xmas No.1 Hit 

Download the singles Pants to Brexit, No, Jeremy Corbyn, Jacob Rees-Moog  and Way to Know from iTunes. 

 Watch and share the Youtube videos:

No, Jeremy Corbyn

Jacob Rees-Moog

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Don’t Be complicit in their Brexit Bullshit.

Say No to Populism.

Rage Against the Brexit Machine.
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