MPs remember International Brigade homecoming

Post date: 05/12/2023

Members of Parliament are signing up to an Early Day Motion (EDM) marking the 85th anniversary of the return of the International Brigades from the war in Spain. 

The motion also praises the work of the IBMT in keeping alive the memory of the volunteers ‘who fought on the side of the Republican Government against fascism of Franco, Mussolini and Hitler’.

The EDM has been tabled by Beth Winter, the Labour MP for Cynon Valley in Wales, and has attracted cross-party and UK-wide support from Scottish National, Plaid Cymru and Social Democratic & Labour Party MPs.

It was on the evening of 7 December 1938 that the remaining 304 members of the British Battalion arrived at London’s Victoria Station. They received a rousing welcome from tens of thousands of well-wishers and were addressed by labour movement dignitaries, including Labour leader Clem Attlee.

Some 2,500 men and women from Britain and Ireland had volunteered to fight in Spain, and 530 of them lost their lives in a conflict that presaged the Second World War.

The International Brigades were disbanded in the final months of the Spanish Civil War as the Spanish Republic tried in vain to increase diplomatic pressure on Hitler and Mussolini to withdraw their forces from Spain.

Beth Winter.

As well as Winter, the other five sponsors of the EDM are Richard Burgon (Labour, Leeds East), Ian Byrne (Labour, Liverpool West Derby), Jeremy Corbyn (Independent, Islington North), Claire Hanna (SDLP, Belfast South) and Chris Stephens (SNP, Glasgow South West). The signatories also include several Plaid Cymru MPs.

IBMT supporters are being urged to press their own constituency MPs to sign up to the EDM.

Throughout this week, events are being staged by the IBMT around the country to commemorate the anniversary of the return of the Brigades.

The full text of the EDM 149 says:

That this House notes that 7 December 2023 marks the 85th anniversary of the return to Britain of the British and Irish volunteer members of the International Brigades who fought on the side of the Republican Government against fascism of Franco, Mussolini and Hitler in the Spanish Civil War; recalls that 304 volunteers of around 2500 who served from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth were met at Victoria Station by Labour Party leader Clement Attlee MP; regrets the 530 deaths the British and Irish volunteers suffered; notes there are now over 100 memorials to volunteers across Britain and that they continue to increase in number; and celebrates the ongoing work of the International Brigade Memorial Trust, including through its work in schools, and through its close relationship with official governmental and civic society sister organisations in Spain, to keep the volunteers memory alive.

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