Meet one of the young campaigners fighting against Brexit…
Madeleina Kay is a difficult woman to track down. But it’s no wonder – the 23 year old activist better known for her stint as ‘EU Supergirl’ seems to exist in a whirlwind of protesting, interviews and creative pursuits.
Madeleina first came to many people’s notice after she made headlines in October 2017 when she was expelled from a Brussels press conference on Brexit – despite having press accreditation.
“I had won the #EUinmyRegion blogging competition with an article I wrote about regional funding in Sheffield,” Madeleina explained. “The prize for winning the competition was a trip to Brussels, to attend a mobile journalism course and access to the events at the European Week of Regions and Cities with a Press Pass.”
But Madeleina’s decision to wear her Supergirl outfit to the conference attracted more attention than she was expecting.
“[It]caused a bit of a fuss when I sat on the front row. The press became totally focused on me, and they couldn’t start the press conference because they were all interviewing and photographing me. I was escorted from the building because they were scared I would pull a stunt like the prankster at the Tory party conference a few weeks beforehand. But it became a story in itself, when the press reported on the disastrous state of the Brexit negotiations.”
It’s fitting then, that the issue that brought her to prominence was also the issue that got Madeleina involved in politics.
“When Brexit happened, it shocked me into political activism.” she said. “It was a wake up call to the dangerous levels of Euroscepticism in the UK and also emphasised the lack of political education which leaves the population vulnerable to manipulation by political influencers.
“My immediate reaction was an unemotional one, I wrote my first protest song on the 24th June, I also started drawing satirical cartoons to mock the Brexit elites and express my frustration at the mess they have created. But I also realised that we need a fundamental change in the UK, we need to better educate people about the political system and we need to start a positive pro-European narrative in this country.”
“we need to better educate people about the political system and we need to start a positive pro-European narrative in this country.”
Madeleina’s own actions have definitely helped to contribute to that narrative. For one, she’s even attracted the attention of the European Commission – when Stand Up caught up with her, she was on her way to Berlin for an interview for Young European of the Year. As one of only five candidates shortlisted, it’s an incredibly impressive accolade – and the winner will receive a £5000 grant towards a six month internship at the European Parliament or a project which aims to promote the EU.
But Madeleina has also seen a positive response to her heroic twist on protest, as she explained.
“I’ve had an amazing response to my campaign, especially in the media who have credited me with my own hashtag #EUsupergirl. One thing I realised very early on in campaigning is that standing out and making a visual impact gets noticed and gets attention – the media love a good image they can use to convey a story.
“So my campaign has been highly visual and highly emotive from the start, which is why so much attention goes into choosing costumes and outfits for me and my dog. And it has paid off, I have had unprecedented media coverage, not only in the UK but across Europe. I have also been invited to participate in panel debates on Channel 4 News and BBC radio 4 Any Questions.”
“my campaign has been highly visual and highly emotive from the start, which is why so much attention foes into choosing costumes and outfits for me and my dog.”
It’s partly that need for a clear visual that prompted her to don the cape, as she elaborated.
“EU Supergirl is one of several costumes, including; a pirate, an EU Christmas Elf, a Royal Mail Postwoman and a pro EU nurse. The EU super girl concept was the very basic idea of Britain needing saving from the perilous consequences of Brexit. But it was also about grabbing attention and creating a positive narrative about the EU that normal people, of any age, can engage with. Superheroes are a concept that everyone understands and can engage with, it’s light-hearted and fun but gets across an important message in a non confrontational way. It also inspires people to join our campaign and fight for our cause.”
But it’s also garnered support from other campaigners.
“On the ground I am very well known, and I hope well loved, by the grassroots Remain campaigners,” Madeleina said. “These are the people I adore spending time with, they are passionate and hard working and devote their time and energy to campaigning for what they believe in. travelling around the country to meet them and perform at their events is an absolute pleasure, and I seem to be well received, with people wanting selfies, sending presents and I was once given a bunch of flowers! On social media I get trolled a lot, but the outpouring of support for what I do is phenomenal and spurs me on. I am incredibly grateful for the support of the grassroots Remain movement.”
It’s clear from Madeleina’s protest page, Alba White Wolf (named after her dog) that she is just as devoted as other grassroots Remainers – she’s even turning her birthday into a pro-EU protest – Superheroes vs Brexit Villains.
“The protest is being organised on 29th March to mark one year after the day Theresa May triggered Article 50, starting the 2 year countdown to supposed “Independence Day”. Or as I like to think about it, it means we have a whole year left in which to stop Brexit!” Madeleina said.
Now, more than ever, young people need to speak up to keep us in the EU.
“Our plan on the day is to gather as many protestors as possible in full super hero outfits, and we will be travelling around London on an open top red bus, with an EUsuperhero banner on the side and making lots of noise from the top. We will then be stopping at locations around London to distribute leaflets encouraging people to join the campaign and increase the public pressure for a vote on the Brexit deal.”
That said, Madeleina isn’t completely ignoring her birthday.
“In the evening we will be joining the No.10 vigil protest opposite Downing Street, where there will be musical performances and a birthday party to celebrate my birthday! People who can’t join us in London will be encouraged to tweet with the hashtag #EUsuperheroday on social media. We are also running an ‘EUsuperheroes’ nomination on the website to encourage people to celebrate their personal heroes who have contributed to the Remain campaign. My hope is that after we have stopped Brexit, ‘EUsuperheroday’ will be an annual celebration of the EU in Britain!”
Madeleina is still confident that we can stop Brexit – and she thinks that now, more than ever, young people need to speak up to keep us in the EU.
“Now is the time to act. We have one year left to stop this Brexit madness and it is imperative that you speak out and make your opposition know. It’s our future, our opportunities and our dreams that are being thrown down the sewer, and we should be outraged about it. People under 40 voted in a majority to Remain in the EU and we will be the ones most affected by the impacts of Brexit.
“This is not a future we asked for, yet it is being imposed on us against our will. There is time still to make a difference, and despite what the media may have you think, it is perfectly possible to stop Brexit. So please speak out and make your views known, for your own sake and the sake of future generations.”
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