Our Anglo-Hungarian adventure begins
This is the first story about two septuagenarians from different countries who have yet to meet physically but are about to embark on an adventure together. We formed a crazy plan to buy an eight-seater Japanese import car together that she would drive to her little wooden house by a lake in the Hungarian countryside. I will fly from Spain to Budapest – with my EU Commission certificate of Covid vaccination in my passport.
I, Mike Phillips, am the English guy living in Spain for 16 years who suddenly found his acquired rights of freedom of movement removed by Brexit and then lost his second wife of 40 years. I have served my country all my life in the Royal Navy, from engineering apprentice to Commander aircraft engineer. I served in the Falklands War and NATO Italy during the Balkans War, the latter with special responsibility for Greek and maritime airfields. I have children and grandchildren in England (including Kent) and Australia.
Who is the Hungarian? None other than Kent Bylines’ own Magdalena Williams. We met online when I offered to write an article for KBL. Then I read her story of her family’s escape from Hungary after the Soviet invasion and welcomed by Britain as refugees. That made me proud of my country.
What did the UK ever do for Magdalena?
They even gave Magdalena various civil service jobs in the UK government. One of the roles was a secondment to the UK delegation to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. The UK had the six months’ Chairmanship of the CoE in 2011 and did some great work getting the Istanbul Convention signed by 45 countries.
The Istanbul Convention
The Istanbul Convention is widely recognised as the most far-reaching legal instrument to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence as a violation of human rights. The UK signed the Istanbul Convention in 2012, but it quickly became apparent that the UK’s domestic laws were not in a fit state to meet its requirements. The issue came to the fore again during the passage of the much delayed Domestic Abuse Act 2021.
Despite pressure from the House of Lords, the government has resisted amending its domestic laws. One is left with the impression that protecting all women from domestic violence is not the priority of the Home Office in circumstances where such a policy might hinder the immigration enforcement rules of the current UK government.
Great Britain has changed. It is no longer the welcoming country it was. It is no longer Great. I can only remain loyal to my country by working to retain close ties with the EU. Magdalena wishes to be a refugee again – from Britain – and find sanctuary in Europe. I cannot stand idly by.
“So, what’s our plan?”
The EU may not be perfect, but its nations have a wonderfully diverse culture and history that must be preserved. Now I have the chance to expand my knowledge of Spanish, Italian, Greek and Scandinavian music, food, architecture, literature etc.
I will look through the unacceptable policies of an Orbán Hungary and racist abuse of Hungarian football fans to find the true strength of the Magyar nation that has a proud legacy, like so many other ethnic groups, of migration across the globe we all share.
Then our adventure really begins with a tour through the post-Brexit EU.
“Where are we going, and why?”
Our plan is flexible. We want to enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes everywhere we go. And listen to local people’s concerns. Our adventure will take us through Slovenia, Northern Italy, Southern France and, eventually, back to my home in the southernmost part of the Costa Blanca in Spain. We will stop over as and when we wish.
But it will be a working holiday. We want to take you with us. We will be writing a travel blog so you can follow our adventure and the impressions we get from the people we meet along the way.
“But that’s not the end of the adventure”
I am involved in three different Spanish Associations – Sailing on the Mar Menor, Spanish Barbershop Singing and a pro EU group Bremain in Spain. All have been badly affected by both covid and Brexit.
The mission of Bremain in Spain is to campaign to protect the rights of UK citizens living in Spain and the EU and to maintain strong links with the EU. We are aware of many consequences of Brexit that are in the interest of neither Britain nor Spain. So we work closely with the British Ambassador and his staff, and have given evidence to UK Parliamentary Committees.
We have a strategy meeting and annual general meeting in Málaga in late October. Magdalena will attend as our guest. She already has friends in our Council and membership who have met her before. We want her to know she will always have friends within the British in Europe communities.
We want the EU to know that the British in Europe believe that, in the words of Gary Barlow’s song, “We’re better when we’re together.” How does this adventure end? Que será, será.