In the run-up to the EU referendum, men dominated 74.5% of TV coverage and 84.4% of print media coverage. Our government sent only one woman to Brussels as part of the UK’s senior negotiating team, and the Department for Exiting the EU is 62% male, according to research done by the fact-checking organization InFacts.
Women have already borne the brunt of austerity, with 86% of cuts since 2010 having fallen on our shoulders, according to figures published by the House of Commons.
Now we are once again on the frontlines of the downturn. Women, especially those from poorer households, tend to be the ones who manage family finances and when there’s less to go around, women try to shield their families by going without themselves. With Brexit-driven rising inflation and falling wages, this is already happening.
Spain threatens Brexit deal over Gibraltar
In the run-up to the 2016 referendum, we were promised a “Brexit dividend” of £350 million a week for the National Health Service. It was a clever lie, and one that was particularly attractive to women, who make up 77% of the NHS workforce.
But no one is talking about a Brexit dividend now. Instead, we are talking about stockpiling medicine, while an exodus of EU nurses and doctors has already created a severe staffing crisis in the NHS.
We have an aging and a sickening population; someone is going to have to take care of them. If the state can’t or won’t, history shows that it is women who will have to plug the gaps — and that will result in women having to reduce their paid hours. This won’t just make women poorer, it will also have a knock-on effect on the economy as the state loses out on vital income tax contributions.
Given the parlous state of female representation in the Brexit negations, it is perhaps unsurprising that May’s deal has nothing to say about any of this. But that doesn’t mean it’s OK, and it doesn’t mean women have to accept it.
In her first speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May spoke eloquently about the need for the country to unite, and her mission as a leader to end social injustice. She promised that the government she led would be driven by the people, rather than the interests of a privileged few. And this leads me to my final reason for signing the letter: I believe Theresa May to be a woman of integrity.
I disagree with her on almost everything — but I believe she is a patriot. I believe she is doing the very best she can with the appalling hand she’s been dealt by a group of unscrupulous, incompetent (who could forget Dominic “I hadn’t quite understood the full extent of this” Raab’s memorable realization that the Channel crossing is rather important for British trade) and deceitful men like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage with their made-up promises.
But the best she can do with an appalling hand is still a terrible deal for women — and having been excluded since the beginning of the debate, women deserve a say now.
And women want a say now: a recent YouGov poll found that 62% of women want a referendum on May’s final deal.
May says she is a democrat who respects the will of the people. Well, the will of the people clearly is for us to have a vote on her Brexit deal. We ask her please to respect it.
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