‘I won’t be intimidated’ - High profile campaigner says she’s become a target for Brexit abuse
PUBLISHED: 18:47 29 March 2019 | UPDATED: 19:19 29 March 2019
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Madeleina Kay – aka EU Supergirl – is one of the Remain cause’s most high profile campaigners. BETHANY WALES speaks to her about intimidation from Brexiteers, getting thrown out of an EU conference and her new attempt at chart success
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She has become one of the best-known faces of the anti-Brexit movement.
Madeleina Kay – known as EU Supergirl to her fellow campaigners – is an instantly recognisable figure at protests, with her cropped blue hair and cartoon costumes.
Now, she has teamed up with Blur drummer Dave Rowntree and Guy Pratt of Pink Floyd to produce a pop-punk ‘battle track’ to pay ironic homage to the date Britain should have left the EU.
The collaboration follows a chance meeting with Pratt at Sussex festival Bylines, which lead to a Twitter discussion about a joint musical venture. The result is We Won’t Go Down Without a Fight, which is out now.
“It’s amazing the people you meet through activism,” she says. “It’s actually been very casual making these connections.”
The trio recorded the track at the Abbey Road studios and produced an accompanying video comprised of footage from Brexit demonstrations in Sheffield, York and London.
The single is the latest anti-Brexit initiative from Kay, who has also released books and videos campaigning against Britain’s departure from the EU. She has also been a high-profile figure at pro-Remain events held across the UK, as well as on the continent.
The 25-year-old said her distinctive appearance at protests had made her a target for some opponents. She recently clashed with a group of ‘yellow vest’ Brexiteers in central London, but said it was good-natured. Indeed, nearby security guards accused Kay of provoking the men.
“As soon as the protestors saw me they instantly started chanting – my appearance lights a spark so I become a target,” she says. “It was light hearted, telling me to ‘sing a song love’, taking the piss out of my ripped jeans. I’m not intimidated by it – even yellow vests need someone to listen to them. It was funny that security had a go at me for provoking them.”
It is not the first time Kay has made the authorities nervous.
In October 2017, security officials removed her from the front row of a Brussels press conference, despite the fact she had the correct press accreditation.
“I was dressed in my supergirl outfit so they thought I was going to pull a stunt like the guy who handed Theresa May a P45 form during her conference speech. I was holding a ‘Theresa Maybe Brexitland’ card that I was planning on giving to Michel Barnier at the beginning – not during his speech – but it was the outfit that made them nervous.”
Her high profile campaigning since the referendum is in stark contrast to her previous apathy towards politics. In June 2016 Kay, the daughter of academics, was in her second year of a landscape architecture degree at Sheffield University. But following the referendum result she decided to get involved in activism.
“Lots of my tutors were involved with projects funded by the EU,” she said. “They were pretty perplexed by the decision but I just thought why am I getting a degree in an industry that’s being damaged by this decision?”
Initially, she balanced regular trips to the capital to demonstrate with her studies, but after a few months Kay put her university work to commit to the anti-Brexit cause full-time.
The source of her funding has been the subject of much scrutiny from online critics with many accusing her of being backed by the philanthropist George Soros, a frequent target of anti-Semitic smears from trolls. She has received so many of these attacks that her ‘pinned tweet’ includes a message to those she calls her “Soros trolls”.
“Conspiracy theorists love to allege I’m funded by Soros, which is not the case. All the money comes from crowdfunding - it was tough starting out but the work pays for itself now.”
She has her own YouTube channel, with 188 videos – which have been viewed 59,000 times – detailing the process behind her campaigning activities, from an explainer clip on why ‘bollocks’ is not a swear word, to a tutorial on how to iron gold stars onto superhero outfits.
Predictably, her online anti-Brexit activism – she also has 28,000 Twitter followers – has attracted a backlash. Videos branding her an “arrogant bimbo” and “skank” have been posted on YouTube. But Kay shrugs off the criticism.
“I take my work seriously but not myself. My appearance lights a spark so I become a target. I’m not intimidated by it. Mostly I’m interested in who these people are and why they think the way they do. They’re not going to get a fight out of me because their opposing views don’t make me angry.”
• Madeleina Kay’s single We Won’t Go Down Without a Fight is available now on iTunes
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Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.Become a supporter