UK Honours Citizens Rights In Spain Campaigners

The 2021 Queens Brithday Honours list have included 4 prominent Spain activists for British citizens rights post- Brexit.

Michael Harris, Anne Hernández, Debbie Williams and Sue Wilson, who all run prominent citizens’ rights organisations in Spain, have been awarded MBEs for services to British Nationals in Spain and the European Union, in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List published on Friday 11 June 2021.   

Based in Madrid, Michael Harris is the founder and Vice President of EuroCitizens and a British in Europe committee member. A long-time resident of Spain, and a former teacher and writer of English-language textbooks, Michael founded the grassroots organisation EuroCitizens in September 2016.
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The group’s purpose was, and remains, to defend the rights of UK nationals in Spain and has particularly provided a forum for those of working age. Michael has worked consistently to keep citizens’ rights firmly in the public eye, both informing the UK community and lobbying the Spanish government to great effect. 

The British Ambassador, Hugh Elliott said: “Mike has made an exceptional contribution in standing up for the rights of UK Nationals in Spain and his work to effectively lobby key political interlocutors in Spain and the EU on their behalf has been hugely impressive. 

Michael Harris said: “I am pleasantly surprised to receive this MBE for my work with EuroCitizens and British in Europe, campaigning for the rights of Britons in Spain and the EU affected by Brexit.” 

Anne Hernández, a retired university lecturer, moved to Spain over 30 years ago. Based in Andalucía, Anne spearheaded the formation of Brexpats in Spain. As its President, Anne has worked tirelessly to inform UK nationals of their EU exit rights and responsibilities. 

She said: “I have never in my life refused help to anybody and, to think that just by offering that same kindness to my fellow Brits in Spain could result in this prestigious award, it is honestly overwhelming”. 

A former member of the armed forces,Debbie Williams, based in the Valencia region, set up the grass roots organisation Brexpats – Hear Our Voice (BHOV) as a pan-European group a few days after the EU Referendum in June 2016.

She said that she was “ surprised and humbled to hear” that she had been recognised and that it would not ” have been possible without the assistance of so many other wonderfully dedicated campaigners who, for the last five challenging years, have been volunteering on behalf of so many people, especially the vulnerable.” 

As Chair of Bremain in Spain, Sue Wilson is one of the most visible campaigners for the rights of UK nationals in the EU. As a result of the 2016 EU referendum she has worked on the issue of UK nationals’ rights in various different ways including lobbying  UK and EU influencers and made great efforts to inform the UK Government’s work on citizens’ rights. 

Hugh Elliott said: “Sue has worked with great determination to raise the profile of citizens’ rights amongst politicians and key influencers. Her remarkable contribution and collaborative approach has helped the UK government minimise preventable consular cases by ensuring UK nationals in the EU are reflected in the negotiations and that they have a clear understanding of their rights and how to access them. 

Sue Wilson said: “ It has been a labour of love – a tough one at times – but to have that work recognised and appreciated is a wonderful and unexpected surprise. I’m absolutely delighted!”