MumsnetGuestPosts (MNHQ) Thu 28-Feb-19 14:32:56

Guest post by Caroline Criado Perez: “For parents in particular, Brexit represents a crossroads”

Caroline Criado Perez is campaigning for a People’s Vote - in this guest post she outlines the impact Brexit will have on women in Britain.

Caroline Criado Perez

Women for People's Vote

Posted on: Thu 28-Feb-19 14:32:56


Lead photo

“We have the opportunity to stand up for a different future for women, for children and for Britain.”

Summer 2016 feels like a long time ago doesn’t it? Prince had just died, the Olympics were unfolding in Rio and… the United Kingdom had just voted to leave the European Union.

Fast forward three years and the promises made by the Leave campaign are in tatters. Theresa May has spent three years negotiating a Withdrawal Agreement that has nothing at all to say about our future relationship with the EU, and which she can’t pass through Parliament anyway. With less than thirty days to go, we have no idea how, when and under what terms we will leave the EU.

The uncertainty over Brexit is already hitting hard: the price of butter has gone up 32% since 2016 and yet wages have remained stagnant. With women - particularly those on low incomes - often responsible for managing household budgets, these costs hit them first, especially since history shows that we tend to try to shield our families from the worst by going without ourselves.

And women have already been going without for long enough. The House of Commons library estimates that women shouldered 86% of austerity cuts: it is women who are more likely to leave paid work to fill the care gap; it is women who are overrepresented in precarious and low-paid employment. 900,000 of our jobs are at risk from a no deal Brexit, while the medicines and fresh foods we rely on could be hit by shortages.

As for May’s so-called deal, within the paltry 26 pages the government has dedicated to the hand-waving Political Declaration there is no mention of women’s rights at all. These will be left entirely at the whim of future governments.

Women are overwhelmingly underrepresented in the Brexit debate: only one woman was sent to Brussels as part of the senior negotiating team and while in Parliament male MPs hogged a staggering 90% of debate time on Brexit.

And that’s a worry, because the UK has a track record of fighting the EU all the way as it drags us kicking and screaming (sometimes through the courts) towards implementing anti-discrimination laws on equal pay, part-time workers’ rights and maternity leave. And these EU-driven rights have been incredibly important for women. They have been used to improve employment standards, propel gender equality and redistribute the amount of unpaid care work women often do.

For parents in particular, Brexit represents a crossroads.

If we leave the EU the problems begin from birth: 7,000 nurses and midwives have already left since 2016 while 7% of care workers are EEA nationals. Without Freedom of Movement or sufficient citizens’ rights guarantees, why would our midwives and nursery workers stay? As our children grow up their universities could receive less funding and they will have less freedom to travel, work, live - and love - around Europe.

Meanwhile, the EU will be busy implementing new laws - agreed on in January 2019 - that give parents more rights to work in a flexible way that reflects the reality of the 21st century family.

There are those who claim we don’t need the EU to ensure workers’ rights - after all, what is to stop us from instituting these laws on our own? These people are living in the past. In this increasingly globalised world, individual countries find it much harder to stand up to huge multinational corporations in defence of workers’ rights. Witness Amazon simply backing out of opening an HQ in New York when it started to be quizzed on allowing its workers to unionise. It will instead open an HQ in Washington where no such awkward questions were raised. And bear in mind that with a GDP of $1.5 trillion, New York is one of the world’s twenty largest economies. It is only working as part of a bloc that we have any chance at all against such enormous corporations.

The reality is that women, particularly mothers, ethnic minority women and economically disadvantaged women will be disproportionately impacted by a Brexit of any kind. And we haven’t had a proper say. Women are overwhelmingly underrepresented in the Brexit debate: only one woman was sent to Brussels as part of the senior negotiating team and while in Parliament male MPs hogged a staggering 90% of debate time on Brexit. This Brexit, however it manifests, does not represent us.

Luckily, there is another option.

We have the opportunity to stand up for a different future for women, for children and for Britain. A People’s Vote would allow women to have their say on what we want our future to look like. You wouldn’t buy a house without checking the contract first - and you wouldn’t be forced to buy a house you’d made an offer on if the survey came back and told you it was about to fall down. That’s all a People’s Vote is: the opportunity to have our voices heard on the biggest political decision of a generation, now that we know what Brexit actually means.

The truth is that we will not get a better deal for women than we already have in the EU. And now that we know what the true impact of Brexit will be, we deserve a final say. If you agree, join our campaign to fight for our future.

Register here to join us on the Put It To The People March on 23/03/19.

Caroline Criado Perez will be back at 1pm on 01/03/2019 to answer your questions

By Caroline Criado Perez

Twitter: @CCriadoPerez

bellinisurge Thu 28-Feb-19 15:30:11

I fear No Deal being an option on a People's Vote. I fear the bad feeling (that's being polite) that overturning the 2016 referendum result would cause.
My maternity care was utterly shit 12 years ago so I don't really see that it being as shit for different reasons is a compelling argument.

george1st Thu 28-Feb-19 17:37:45

what a nonsense conflation of issues

bellinisurge Thu 28-Feb-19 17:53:34

I have to agree @george1st . And I voted Remain.

Peregrina Thu 28-Feb-19 18:38:20

So if your maternity care was shit 12 years ago, why encourage EU midwifery and nursing staff to leave and make it even more shit, because those left are short staffed?

Leighhalfpennysthigh Thu 28-Feb-19 19:09:46

Brexit means we are all fucked, not just women and nit just mothers. Yet another example of forgetting about the 20% of the population that doesn't have children. Well done.

bellinisurge Thu 28-Feb-19 19:10:31

Because I find the idea of No Brexit = better maternity care faintly ridiculous. Poor maternity care in the UK has a number of complex causes of which staffing is only one. Poor staffing levels were only one of the causes of the poor care I received, back when there were allegedly plenty of E.U. nurses.


bellinisurge Thu 28-Feb-19 19:17:20

And @Leighhalfpennysthigh is right. Brexit will affect everyone negatively.

Melao Thu 28-Feb-19 21:50:44

Love the reference to 32% increase in the price of butter. Genuinely intrigued so I clicked the link, hoping to find a reliable source only to land on a page about a spoof brexit shop! Well done. Typical of the misinformation that plagues this debate. Shameful.

jasjas1973 Thu 28-Feb-19 22:13:02

Butter has risen substantially, from between 25% to 40%.... that the link is wrong, does not change that fact......
Its little to do with brexit - it's more to do with higher feed prices due to weather and demand from China.

user1494050295 Fri 01-Mar-19 07:34:02

She recently spoke at my work and was obviously anti May then which was completely inappropriate for the event

bellinisurge Fri 01-Mar-19 07:36:12

Just as Brexit will not fix all the problems in our country, it is not the cause of all our problems in this country. Brexit will have a devastating effect if we No Deal but that is on top of problems that were already there.

Minsei Fri 01-Mar-19 09:15:36

How many times a day can i give pacimol100mg drops to my 50days baby

Leighhalfpennysthigh Fri 01-Mar-19 09:24:17

If we want Brexit stopped then we have to explain clearly and unemotionally what is going to happen in this country as a result of not being in the EU for everyone. That doesn't mean singling out a specific group of people and employing scare tactics about maternity services and the price of butter.

The stereotypes employed in this post are sexist. Women are more than their reproductive status and they deserve to be respected and treated like equals. No one would dare to write a post like this aimed at fathers only. Why are women to be patronised in this way?

One of the reasons why so many people voted leave was to give the govt a kicking for austerity. The domestic problems mentioned here are not new to Brexit. All NHS services have been struggling for a long time due to Tory cuts. That is nothing to do with Europe and by trying to make it part of the argument for cancelling Brexit, you are bringing us down to their level and peddling lies and false promises.

Remain now needs to tell the absolute truth about what is going to happen.

bellinisurge Fri 01-Mar-19 09:50:09

Again agree @Leighhalfpennysthigh .

Peregrina Fri 01-Mar-19 09:57:07

Remain have been telling the truth about what is likely to happen, and it's still not being listened to. I don't know how many business I have heard say that they don't know what's happening, they can't plan or will have to enact contingency plans. Even Grease-Smugg saying that we won't know the benefits for 50 years doesn't seem to have sunk in.

Grinchly Fri 01-Mar-19 13:49:50

I'm a Remainer to my core.

But I join with fellow posters above in saying this article is not only poorly-written - it is facile patronising and insulting.

We really need to do better than this. Much, much better.

NiamhMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 01-Mar-19 14:16:25

Hi everyone. Caroline has answered some questions in her statement below:

“Brexit will impact everyone badly, why single out parents or women?”

Brexit looks set to have a negative impact on most of us, but the impacts are not gender blind. There are specific reasons that these consequences will hit women and economically disadvantaged families particularly hard. This is because we are already paid almost 10% less than men, rely substantially more on public services, are employed to much greater extent in the public sector and shoulder a disproportionate amount of the UK’s unpaid care work. Consequently, high levels of inflation, less investment in the economy and less money for public services generated by tax revenue will affect women’s lives disproportionately.

“Wouldn’t a People’s Vote be divisive?”

The country is already divided -- the 2016 referendum did that. In the three months following the referendum hate crime spiked nearly threefold. And the way the government has handled Brexit has done nothing to alleviate that: just last week a female MP who is vocal about Brexit was told to move house to avoid harassment. Away from the extremes, the country is sick of Brexit and just wants us to move on -- but MPs have made it glaringly obvious that they cannot decide. Meanwhile, May's deal means years and years of uncertainty and wrangling over what comes next for Britain. The only way to avoid a decade of deepening divisions on Brexit is to make a clear and democratic decision on the best way forward. That is what a People’s Vote will do. A People’s Vote gives us the opportunity to break the parliamentary gridlock, make a decision once and for all about the future of our country, and return to the business of healing society.

“It is austerity not Brexit which is damaging our public services”

Austerity has damaged our public services, particularly for women. However, this is not an either/or situation. Every single economic analysis of Brexit, including by the Treasury itself, says that leaving the EU will result in economic downturn due to less investment from abroad and less economic confidence nationally, as well as the impact on inflation and the value of the pound. Indeed, this is already happening, and the result will is that there will be lower tax revenues and therefore less money for public services. In other words: more austerity.

Then there’s the staffing issue, we have already seen net migration fall to an all time low which means less European staff to support our NHS and less tax revenue from people living and working in Britain. And it’s no good expecting homegrown staff to fill the posts -- we have relied on immigrants to do the work, meaning we simply haven’t trained them up. They don’t exist.

Many people voted to leave the European Union in protest against economic inequality in the UK. It is a sad irony that Brexit is going to have the opposite effect people hoped for.

bellinisurge Fri 01-Mar-19 14:47:14

A people's vote with no deal as an option would be economic suicide.

Leighhalfpennysthigh Fri 01-Mar-19 18:06:30

economically disadvantaged families

People. Not just families. Many single people in low paid/zero hours jobs are as affected, if not more so, than families.

Leighhalfpennysthigh Fri 01-Mar-19 18:07:44

particularly for women

For some women. Also some men. Please get it correct.

lorirexsins Fri 01-Mar-19 18:27:29

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

BlingLoving Fri 01-Mar-19 19:54:58

The responses to this are full 9f "whatabout". As far as I know, those calling for a people's vote aren't doing so only because of women. But this looks at one aspect of brexit - a group of people.who are undeniably affected. Why is that a problem? There are similar posts and reports elsewhere about other groups! For example, we are already seeing the impact on the manufacturing sector, which is widely discussed.

Why must the issues for women, particularly lower paid women, be ignored?

Palominoo Fri 01-Mar-19 21:28:40

I voted leave and still would. I don't know anyone that voted to remain so am not in very good company here but I hope Mumsnet will have allow some balance and have a post or posts from a Leaver/s with their positive views about Brexit.

Peregrina Fri 01-Mar-19 22:13:44

We have been asking on these threads for getting on for three years now, about the positive views. So far, we have heard sound bites.

We haven't yet got a long list of those countries wishing to trade with us - the Faroes, Switzerland and one or two others mentioned, but the biggies like India - no dice yet. I am puzzled as to what we will trade with the Faroes - those chunky knits that Sarah Lund wore in The Killing, perhaps.

We could see it as an opportunity to train up medical staff - there doesn't seem to be a shortage of people wanting to get into medical school, but it would need a proper plan and could only be done on something like a 10 year timescale. I don't see that happening yet.

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