‘Don’t let Brexit break your heart!’

Bath for Europe monthly rally, February 2019. Photo © Matthew Perks.

1.6 million relationships have ended because of Brexit, according to a survey by online dating website ‘eharmony’. Relatives are rowing, friendships have broken but, saddest of all, some families might be split up.

At Bath for Europe’s February Rally, Véronique Martin, born in France but living in Britain for over 30 years having married a British man, spoke of the anguish that Brexit has brought her and other EU nationals. As the associate director of the In Limbo project which was launched to give a voice to the 3.5 million EU citizens in the UK (some 5,000 live in Bath) and the 2.2m UK citizens living in other EU countries, she has witnessed so many heart-breaking testimonies. The crowd outside the Assembly Rooms was moved by the story of a German woman, a resident of the UK for over 20 years who was torn between staying in the UK with her foster children and her husband who had cancer or moving back to Germany to care for her elderly, sick mother. Read Véronique’s speech here.

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When Bath for Europe held its monthly rally, Parliament was due to vote once again on Theresa May’s amended deal on February 14th, so “The focus on love and strong bonds of friendship is uppermost in everyone’s minds,” said Emma Knaggs, chair of the grassroots Bath campaign group, “But for some this might be the last Valentine’s Day they spend in the country they love” – if the UK crashes out of the EU in less than eight weeks on March 29th. Bath MP Wera Hobhouse also spoke of the value of friendship and the importance of keeping up the fight to stay in the EU. She said it was clear that there were enough Tories who would be prepared to push the country over the cliff edge. “This is not Project Fear,” she said, but “Project Reality. Now is not the time to give up.”

Marching through the streets of Bath, some slushy and others slippery with clods of ice, Bath for Europe supporters called for a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal. Daily reports from major manufacturers such as Nissan or Airbus, with its huge base in the South West, are now threatening to leave the UK in the event of a No Deal Brexit, have made people question what is at stake. Genuine concerns about the availability of medicines have also encouraged people to question whether remaining in the EU would be the best option.

The February rally ended on a light-hearted note with Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees- Mogg impersonators duetting “Somethin’ Stupid” outside the Theatre Royal. And Boris, being Boris, admitted, “And then I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like I love EU.”

Jane Riekemann