04/07/2017

#NoToBrexit


Appalled by the horrific conditions of negotiation between the EU and the UK, feeling like a child torn between her divorcing parents, I want to start a modest contribution: by gathering the voices of the art world who strongly reject the idea of a "Brexit".

You are welcome to join!
Read, share, contact me.
I'll work to get a column publish in the British, French and German press - to start with.
Any other idea is welcome.

All the best to you all,
melissa


Picture by myself: Massive Attack in Hyde Park, London, on July 1st, 2016, after interpreting their song 'Eurochild' and deploring the "Brexit" vote. 
You can notice that the colours of the lights on stage match the European flag...




#NoToBrexit

A European call to action from the art and music world


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Introduction / Invitation


In the rainy month of November 1993, my English teacher organised a trip for all our classroom to go and visit England. We all took the bus to Calais and the ferry to Dover to cross the Channel and drive up to Canterbury, Oxford and of course London. And despite the wet weather and a visit to the National Maritime Museum with a series of an impossible-to-answer Q & A about British history… it was love at first sight. It was only my third trip outside of France, after a week of student exchange in Germany and a family visit on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea, and for the first time of the three, I could actually understand local people… I realised I could speak fluently a foreign language. I was already, at 13 years old, a massive fan of popular music, and the songs of the Beatles and a few other more recent bands had taught me English much more than my schoolbooks.

This experience was made possible because we were part of the European community. A few years later, the community became the European Union and the Eurostar opened, enabling thousands of French teenagers like myself to visit London again in only three hours. I want again. And again and again. And in 2009, I settle there, as a young journalist, passionate by travels, who had lived six months in Czech Republic, travelled across all Italy and central Europe and lived a year in the United States in 2008. Moving to the United Kingdom is one of the most powerful experience life has sent me. It also came after a family loss and without this move, I don’t know if I would have recovered the same way. I was hired by the BBC World Service to use my skills in French to broadcast news to French-speaking listeners in Central and West Africa. It was an eye- and mind-opening chance to understand our world more globally and to get to travel and live in Africa a few years later. When I came back from Nairobi, I didn’t hesitate, I moved back to London, not Paris. I found in England a second home and an educational challenge, and a change of perspective on our changing world.

Once again, this was made possible because of the existence of a very special political body, the European Union, which enables the citizens of its member states to live, study and work in any country of the Union. One of my dearest British friends thus studied a year in Portugal. A French friend studied in Germany and met in Prague her future German husband, to later settle together in Luxembourg. In London and later in Bristol, I met half a dozen of Spanish people who could feed their family back in Spain thanks to the jobs they found in English. Teachers, waiters, drivers, nurses, even doctors from all over Europe now work in the United Kingdom, because potential local employees for these skills are lacking in the country…

From early 2015, after having settled back home in Paris with a new job in radio, I came back to England to write about its thriving music and art scene. I came to Bristol to meet with my favourite musicians and write a book about them, retelling the incredible story of their diversity in this wonderful city. Bristol was then the European Green Capital, sharing its skills in developing an environment-friendly economy with others cities in Europe. It was a thrilling time to be a reporter in England again. But suddenly, later that year, the Prime Minister, David Cameron decided to finally organise a referendum on the future of the UK inside the EU. An appalling campaign took place in 2015-16, in which his own party, the Conservatives, finally mainly advocated to convince people to leave the European Union, a campaign led by the former mayor of London, Boris Johnson, a city thriving with European presence and passion…

I witnessed and reported on the campaign, while also covering the appalling refugee crisis that was reaching Europe and got many countries, including the United States, France and the UK to only react in disdaining refugees… Claiming they had no means to be able to help the people running away from poverty, dictatorships and wars from Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Eritrea and Afghanistan that the Western World was partly to greatly responsible of. While Greece, Italy and Germany kept receiving these stricken fleeing people. It was a terrible time, but I was betting that most British people would recognise that a withdrawal from the European Union would only make our problem-solving efforts more difficult. But unfortunately, they didn’t. 52% of them didn’t and voted to “Leave” on June 23rd, 2016.

Now a year later, my book on British art and music has been released in France and I’m working on the English version. Meanwhile, I reported on the consequence of Brexit for a German radio, in Northern Ireland, in London and more recently in Scotland, appalled by the lack of political vision and the disunion provoked inside the Kingdom.

Talking almost daily with British friends, mostly teachers, workers of the NHS, artists, thinkers, journalists and musicians, we are all appallingly saddened by this decision and by the ill-treatment of the negotiations with Brussels led by Boris Johnson then Theresa May.  

As a French citizen, world-traveller and European, passionately in love with the United Kingdom, a country that has never stopped enriching my life since 1993, I’m now willing to publically call on to every European citizens who want to make their voice heard on the issue. A so-called “Brexit”, withdrawal of a key member of our European Union, would do no good to the EU and definitely no good to the citizens of the UK and the millions of Europeans living there.

For science, research and education, it predicts a disaster. For artists and musicians, travelling all over Europe to share their performances and views on our world, it is a tragedy.

Here is therefore an invitation to join a list of artists who agree and will call on, in their own words, to think again, as European people, as British citizens, as MPs, as workers of the EU bodies in Brussels and Strasburg, as musicians or journalists, about the future of the UK inside of the European Union. For the good of us all. As we are in this situation together…

In these times of general turmoil and political instability, we need European solidarity and political vision more than ever. And even more that we need the single market. Let’s bring back upfront the values that united Europeans together after World War II: a thirst for peace, a will to rebuild our continent, a desire for more knowledge and a better education for all, a better and more stable future together. It is never too late to reverse a bad decision…


Melissa Chemam
Freelance journalist and writer, French citizen, European thinker and UK lover
Twitter: @melissachemam / https://twitter.com/melissachemam



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On board for now:


Melissa Chemam, French journalist reporting in the UK

Keziah Jones, Nigerian and British musician

Angelo Bruschini, British / Italian musician with Massive Attack, The Blue Airplanes and Saint 
Mars, based in Bristol

Chris Bird, British director at United Visual Artists based in London

David Mowat, British and Swiss jazzman based in Bristol

Toby Wilsher, British theatre director, musician and communication Coach for business, whose clients are mostly European 

Michael Eyre, British citizen living in Sweden

Roger Surridge, British graphic designer resident in France

Dan Leyland, British company director

Geoff Alsopp, British musician and writer, based in Somerset

Edson Burton, British poet, writer and researcher based in Bristol

Adam Evans, British music producer

Andy Smith, British artist from Manchester / Bolton

Sarah Barden, British journalist leaving in Austria

Seth Ferris and Henry Kamens, British journalists based in Sweden

Liliane Horton, former Journalist, French citizen living in the UK and married to a British man

Madeleina Kay / Alba White Rose, remain artist and member of the No.10 Vigil group

Catherine Moss, co-organiser of the #StopBrexit Manchester March on September 30

Amy Racs, radio producer from London

Sara Hayward, British artist from Worcestershire



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Join us!

melissa.notobrexit@gmail.com 





8 commentaires:

  1. Although a scientist by training, I volunteer in a small museum (where we have German volunteers and French/Spanish staff. We have stopped discussing Brexit as so many of the aging volunteers seem to have closed their minds to Remaining (although some of us - I'm 73 - are ardent Remainers)

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    1. I think nothing is definite yet. The negotiations are not really efficient for now. We need to get voices heard in education, the arts, and of course science. A group of scientist is campaigning to stop the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

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    2. meant EU not UK

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  2. I had a similar experience to you but in the reverse. My love for France and all things French happened when I was about 9 years old, learning a new language for the first time. Much much later, in 2003, married with two small children, we decided to up sticks and move to Brittany. I wanted to give our girls a first hand experience of a different culture and the opportunity to be truly bilingual. Since then, they have worked so hard, achieving mentions in the Brevet(tres bien), and the Bac and are both now at university here in France. The brexit vote came as a real shock, we were all stunned, little by little over the past year we have experienced a huge variety of emotions but have been left finally today with anger being the most predominant one. I run a gite, my husband is retired. We have people from all over the UK and europe who come to stay. As for family in Britain, my parents voted to leave as did my brother, despite lengthy discussions about how it could detrimentally affect our futures. We now no longer have any real meaningful contact as we feel that we have been betrayed by our family and now by our country. Personally I blame the UK right wing politicians and press who have spent years spreading lies, rumours and downright propaganda against the UK. Maybe the EU will actually be better off without the continual troublemaking from these same asses.

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    1. meant eu not UK

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    2. Thank you for sharing your story! I know we, in France, are still very privileged to have a special way of life, good schools, great doctors, even if all this is under threat. I absolutely agree that British people have been lied to for too long. Now I want to stand in favour of more exposed truth about our Union. British people and all European people deserve to know what is possible for their future.

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  3. I'm not sure another referendum is the right way. It is very expensive and people experience voting fatigue. It was a bad enough idea from the start to offer simple answers to very complex issues! With horrible campaigners (I mean, Boris Johnson! former mayor of London, shame) and professional liars (do I need to quote any?). A political solution between the British parliament and the EU's main institution should be in order. And I hope for you that Theresa May will resign soon!

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  4. A first step here: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jul/01/scientists-artists-give-young-people-a-say-in-shaping-brexit
    Scientists and artists unite to warn: ‘give the young a say in shaping Brexit’
    Document with 400 signatories says that exchange of ideas must survive

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